Friday, October 24, 2008

Bus Stops?

So I had a more transit type postings backlogged, but I am not sure many make sense to get into with the newest development that Port Authority management has unilaterally declared an impasse to negotiations and say they are imposing their own new contract on the drivers. I suspect the legal beagles will have to sort out if that really is the way that works. Not sure this is how it has ever evolved before which is curious. My non-lawyerly guess is that PAT really is stretching the law to think this works this way... but we will see.

On the general state of labor management relations in Pittsburgh. My web/news filter picked up this interesting story of a union roundtable just the other day in town. What is odd to me is the inconguity these days of how far ahead Obama appears to be in the polls around here, yet how anti-union public sentiment has become. In another era in town there is no way the Port Authority could get away with voiding a contract as they are trying to do. Yet I suspect the public backlash will not be very much. That came to mind just because the article reminded me that the two issues are evolving in opposite ways than they should.


Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Do you think people are making a distinction between defending the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the right to whatever a given union happens to be negotiating for at a given time?

From what I understand, the Unite Here branch offshoot of the US labor movement was much more immediately on-board with Obama than the AFL-CIO holdouts. Unite Here is also more in to organizing, outreach and new models of advocacy than their AFL-CIO counterparts, who tend to be conventional. If I've got that right. Rachel?

Friday, October 24, 2008 10:53:00 PM  
Anonymous rachel c said...

Bram, you're confusing UNITE HERE with Change to Win. UNITE HERE Is a member union of Change to Win with SEIU, UFCW, the Laborers, the Carpenters, the Teamsters and the United Farmworkers.

The Change to Win unions disaffilated with the AFL in 2005 at the national level. Locally and in states, many of the local Change to Win unions participate in central labor councils and state federations of labor. (the AFL state and local bodies)

Organizing is indeed a central principle of Change to Win, but I'm not sure that they were the only unions early on-board with Obama. I know that SEIU and UNITE HERE were.

Unions, because of their relationship with electeds are generally more conservative than the other parts of the left in terms of endorsing candidates.

Friday, October 24, 2008 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous AMD said...

On the ATU/transit issue, I think that the public opinion is, generally speaking, anti-union is because the public so heavily depends on transit. IMO, this is true with police, firefighter, teacher contracts, too. If UAW goes on strike at Ford, it has little or no direct effect on most people. If your school teachers go on strike, it can screw everything up for you personally (and professionally, if you can't get day care).

Perhaps Pittsburgh is becoming less of a "union town" because it, like most areas, has little exposure to unions outside of the public sector unions. As I said earlier, public sector unions just don't engender the same type of pro-union sentiment.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Yes, Rachel, I was confusing the terms. I was wondering however if Change to Win unions were both a little more liberal and perhaps Obamist than your average AFL-CIO union (it sounds like this is the case), and whether your average AFL-CIO union might be more likely to take bargaining positions that are a bit not great for cities like Pittsburgh, as opposed to the Change To Wins, who just want janitors to have a contract *of some kind* already.

Who knows, maybe this transit situation will result in a Big Showdown and a watershed or at least teachable moment; however, I'd feel a lot better if I had confidence that both sides are struggling to be productive, walking out of meetings, calling people clowns, and declaring impasses and new terms unilaterally seems a bit aggressive to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 4:34:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

If public opinion is against the union in this case, I think it has more to do with views on local transit than with opposition to unions. At the very least, I don't think you will see any greater likelihood to disparage the union than to disparage management.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

Yeah, I think the public sector unions have an increasing image problem because of the City's and the County's increasing financial problems. We are all waiting to for the City to declare bankruptcy and for County property taxes to go through the roof (so to speak). Meanwhile, although PAT has little to do with the County directly, the drink tax mess and the greed the union appears to be showing, plus fare hikes and route cuts, all combine to leave a bad taste in people's mouths. What's frightening is that the state legislature could listen to some of the suburbanites who call for PAT to be privitized and come in and impose that on us. Then the Port Authority will be reduced to car service for state legislators.

Monday, October 27, 2008 12:22:00 PM  

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