Boston Teamsters: Paratransit drivers win victory over union-busting contractor

first_imgBostonJuly 20 — Some 350 paratransit drivers in Boston celebrated their victory last night after waging a 100% solid, weeklong strike against Veterans Transportation. The local taxi boss, their profitable new employer, is a notorious union buster.UNITE HERE Local 26 leader Ed Childs and United Steelworkers Local 8751 Trustee Fred Floreal join the Teamster strike line, July 15. WW Photo: Steve GillisVeterans Transportation recently underbid another private outfit for a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s contract for The Ride, which provides door-to-door service for disabled and elder passengers. They then came at the multinational, predominantly Haitian workforce with a list of wage and benefit concessions. Most disgusting and potentially deadly was the company’s and its government client’s demand that these workers, deemed “essential” by local government during the COVID-19 pandemic, pay substantially more out-of-pocket for their families’ health insurance. They also tried to deny wage increases, substituting a one-time bonus with impossible strings attached, and balked at the union’s pandemic-related health and safety concerns. These were the final insults these Teamster Local 25 members unanimously rejected. On July 10, they hit the bricks 24/7.The strikers made headlines and allies during their weeklong shutdown as many other unions, politicians and community leaders, including disabled activists, picketed bus yards in Boston suburbs of Everett, Waltham and Watertown.  Passengers who depend on The Ride have suffered deteriorating service and infuriating delays in recent years, as the state’s bipartisan administration took a budget axe to the essential service. During the strike, professional union drivers and MBTA vehicles were replaced with vouchers for app companies Uber and Lyft, whose drivers under current law have zero worker rights or benefits.  The spirit on the strike lines was fighting mad, as well as inspiring and uplifting, with blaring Caribbean music, barbecue and the Local 25 tractor-trailer soundstage bringing major resources, including personal protective equipment, to the picket lines daily.In a statement issued from Local 25’s parking lot in Charlestown, where physically distanced members ratified the new contract July 19 by over 90%, President Sean M. O’Brien spotlighted “significant health insurance increases.”  “Our members at Veterans Transportation are heroes who have put themselves and their families at risk during the pandemic, providing transit services for our most at-risk citizens,” O’Brien said in a media statement. “Teamsters Local 25 is proud to represent the MBTA [the Ride] drivers and will never stop fighting to make sure our members are treated with dignity and respect and receive fair wages, affordable health insurance and a safe working environment.”Teamsters Local 25 has also moved the workers’ struggle forward on the legal front in recent weeks. State legislators and the attorney general have been forced, by the labor movement and the pandemic’s resulting economic crisis of mass unemployment, to move bills and initiate lawsuits recognizing gig drivers as workers. These bills will mean rights to unemployment insurance, health benefits, minimum wage protections and to organize a union, as opposed to Wall- Street-sponsored, fake “independent contractors.”In Public Service Announcements during the strike, the MBTA urged The Ride passengers to cancel appointments or use Uber/Lyft. Its transparent, ill-advised and ultimately futile attempt to break the strike by running a nonunion, substandard, failure-of-a-scab operation behind the scenes earned local government nothing but hatred from the communities served and from the labor movement.Gillis serves on the Executive Board of USW Local 8751 —the  Boston School Bus Drivers Union. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Institute of Politics announces spring Resident Fellows

first_imgThe Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School Wednesday announced the appointment of six Resident Fellows who will join the institute for the spring semester. The incoming fellows bring diverse experiences in public service and expertise on contemporary issues and challenges in domestic and international politics.“At this important time in civic life we are pleased to welcome an extraordinary group of Resident Fellows from the highest levels of government to national security, foreign affairs, and electoral politics,” said IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78. “Our Resident Fellows are central to our mission of inspiring students to public service and model lives of consequences.”For over 50 years IOP Resident Fellows have provided Harvard students with the opportunity to learn from prominent public servants, engage in civil discourse, and acquire a more holistic and pragmatic view of our political world.Spring 2020 Resident Fellows:Tiffany Cross — Co-Founder and Managing Editor, The Beat DCLord Kim Darroch — British Ambassador to the United States (2016-2019)Mark Harvey — Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy, National Security Council (2018-2020)Rohini Kosoglu — Chief of Staff, Kamala Harris for the People Presidential Campaign and U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (2017-2019)Tara Setmayer — CNN, ABC Political Commentator and GOP Congressional Communications Director (2006-2013)Gov. Bill Walker — Governor of Alaska, Independent (2014-2018)Each semester, Resident Fellows immerse themselves in the Harvard community by residing on campus, mentoring a cohort of undergraduate students, holding weekly office hours and leading an eight-week, not-for-credit study group. This spring, fellows will convene study groups on topics including representation in media, diplomacy, election infrastructure and security, leadership on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, and bridging the partisan divide.“Given the importance of the 2020 election, Harvard students are eager to learn from and engage with this incoming class,” said Carine Hajjar ’22 and Eric Jjemba ’21, student co-chairs of the Fellows and Study Groups program at the Institute of Politics. “The relationships built among students and Resident Fellows help shape and inform our own pathway in politics and public service. We look forward to welcoming this cohort to campus this semester.”You can view the complete bios of our Resident Fellows at iop.harvard.edu/fellows Read Full Storylast_img read more