Could Caucus of Working Educators Oust PFT Leadership?

City Paper’s Daniel Denvir has a lengthy article today about the Caucus of Working Educators, a 141-member group founded in March that just held its first convention. Denvir compares it to Chicago’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators, which took over the Chicago Teachers Union in 2010 and held a successful, well-supported strike in 2012.

Of course, Philadelphia teachers are banned from striking by state law. But the article paints a picture of a group of teachers upset (or at least disappointed) with PFT leadership. The state takeover of schools in 2001, changing attitudes about unions, and the pro-charter school movement have stripped PFT of a lot of its power.

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Baggage Handlers Picket at PHL Airport

A group of baggage handlers have been picketing at Philadelphia International Airport since this morning.

Though the Pennsylvania director of SEIU 32BJ called the action a strike, Philly.com reports no flights appear to be affected. The airport previously said airlines have a contingency plan in case of a strike. The striking workers are employees of PrimeFlight, an airline contractor, working in ground transportation at the airport (baggage handling, wheelchair transport, curbside check-in, etc.).

The non-union workers make as little as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage hike for city contractors Michael Nutter ordered in May does not apply to the PrimeFlight workers. Read more »

There Is No Way Philly Unions Are Going to Pick the Next Mayor

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Remember how, just about a month or two ago, everybody was speculating that Philly’s unions were going to unite and pick the city’s next mayor?

Folks, it ain’t gonna happen.

In the last week, we have two major data points that suggest the city’s labor movement — while large and collectively powerful — is simply too diverse, and maybe too disjointed, to pull off a power play like picking a mayor for the rest of us.

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Philadelphia Unions Quarrel Over New Convention Center Work Rules

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

While the day was subdued inside the Convention Center Monday, tensions between unions “erupted” outside, the Inquirer reports. The fracas started when leaders of IBEW Local 98, Laborers Local 332 and Stagehands Local 8 walked their workers into the Convention Center past a group of jeering Teamsters.

The dispute stems from new work rules at the Center, which told unions they had until Monday of last week to sign. Carpenters Local 8 and the Teamsters Local 107, didn’t, and are currently shut out of the process.

Teamsters picketed outside the Convention Center on Monday, leading to the Inquirer getting some fantastic quotes for the newspaper. Check out the war of words between IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty and people from the Teamsters and Carpenters unions.

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A Primer on the Pennsylvania Convention Center Mess

Convention-Center

If you’re confused about the union protests at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, you’re not alone. So let’s break it down.

There are six unions that work at the Convention Center: carpenters, teamsters, riggers, stagehands, laborers and electricians. Of those six, two of them (the Carpenters and Teamsters) did not sign a revised Customer Satisfaction Agreement, which contains new rules governing the unions’ work at the Center. Some of the terms of the agreement were favorable to the unions, it seems, such as 3 percent pay raises for 10 years.

Other terms look less favorable, perhaps. For instance, exhibitors have been granted new leeway in setting up. As long as they use full-time employees (unionized or not) and don’t go beyond 600 square feet, exhibitors can assemble booths themselves, and even use “uncomplicated” power tools. That’s a big change.

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Union Rejects SEPTA Contract Offer, Wants Binding Arbitration

The last of several union contracts with SEPTA expires on April 6, and the head of the Transit Workers Union told the Daily News Thursday he’s not taking the current offer.

[TWU Local 234 president Willie] Brown told the Daily News yesterday that he won’t accept SEPTA’s initial offer of a five-year contract with no raises during 2014 and 2015, a 6 percent raise spread over the next three years, increased employee contributions to health care and no pension plan for new hires.

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