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214

Lessons Learned from Eight Years of Experimental Organizing in Southern California’s Logistics Sector

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Kaoosji, S. (2018). Lessons Learned from Eight Years of Experimental Organizing in Southern California’s Logistics Sector. In Ness, I. and Alimahomed-Wilson, J. (eds) Choke Points: Logistics Workers Disrupting the Global Supply Chain. Pluto Press, pp. 214-229

216

The power the Teamsters built was based in constant organizing and growth in trucking and in the sites of pickup and delivery for the drivers. This depended on the opportunity gained from the threat of secondary pickets--when drivers came across pickets at a gate and refuse to deliver or pick up at a factory, warehouse, or store, created pressure on the employer to allow the goods to move--at any cost. The cost, of course, was a Teamster contract [...] But trucking was not the only sector of the economy impacted by the innovations of the Teamsters. The actions of these drivers at strategic sites moved Teamster organizing into manufacturing, food processing and dairies, coalmines and sawmills. Pickets at delivery sites made warehouse workers and retail workers into union members.

—p.216 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days, 1 hour ago

The power the Teamsters built was based in constant organizing and growth in trucking and in the sites of pickup and delivery for the drivers. This depended on the opportunity gained from the threat of secondary pickets--when drivers came across pickets at a gate and refuse to deliver or pick up at a factory, warehouse, or store, created pressure on the employer to allow the goods to move--at any cost. The cost, of course, was a Teamster contract [...] But trucking was not the only sector of the economy impacted by the innovations of the Teamsters. The actions of these drivers at strategic sites moved Teamster organizing into manufacturing, food processing and dairies, coalmines and sawmills. Pickets at delivery sites made warehouse workers and retail workers into union members.

—p.216 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days, 1 hour ago
218

[...] As Southern California changed with the influx of Latinos in the 1980s, the workforce also changed. Central American men, in particular, flooded into the sector and created a culture able to simultaneously contain, on one pole, individualism and enrepeneurism, and at the same time fierce and radical solidarity exhibited through regular wildcat strikes. These occurred despite the fact that as independent contractors, any form of collective action by drivers was legally actionable collusion. This scared unions away from organizing these workers, and their efforts instead focused on bringing back the employee model. [...]

had no idea. fascinating. does this apply to gig economy workers??

—p.218 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

[...] As Southern California changed with the influx of Latinos in the 1980s, the workforce also changed. Central American men, in particular, flooded into the sector and created a culture able to simultaneously contain, on one pole, individualism and enrepeneurism, and at the same time fierce and radical solidarity exhibited through regular wildcat strikes. These occurred despite the fact that as independent contractors, any form of collective action by drivers was legally actionable collusion. This scared unions away from organizing these workers, and their efforts instead focused on bringing back the employee model. [...]

had no idea. fascinating. does this apply to gig economy workers??

—p.218 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago
219

[...] Findings of employee status do not magically change a driver's situation, but they create legal grounding for organizing. And as companies the Teamsters have organized have hired on their drivers, they create living examples, paid by the hour, with benefits and 40-hour work weeks, Social Security, workers' compensation, and unemployment benefits, right there at the port terminal.

—p.219 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

[...] Findings of employee status do not magically change a driver's situation, but they create legal grounding for organizing. And as companies the Teamsters have organized have hired on their drivers, they create living examples, paid by the hour, with benefits and 40-hour work weeks, Social Security, workers' compensation, and unemployment benefits, right there at the port terminal.

—p.219 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago
219

[...] Teamsters have utilized the ambulatory picket, using a rule that allows them to follow trucks and picket at their terminus. Port strikes have become famous in the LA labor movement as massive operations, with up to 20 primary and ambulatory picket teams operating at any given time manned with strikers, rank and file Teamsters, union allies, and community supporters, across container terminals, truckyards, railyards, and warehouses.

!!! so cool

—p.219 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

[...] Teamsters have utilized the ambulatory picket, using a rule that allows them to follow trucks and picket at their terminus. Port strikes have become famous in the LA labor movement as massive operations, with up to 20 primary and ambulatory picket teams operating at any given time manned with strikers, rank and file Teamsters, union allies, and community supporters, across container terminals, truckyards, railyards, and warehouses.

!!! so cool

—p.219 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago
220

[...] While there are thousands of union members in the region, its labor movement lacks the cohesion and power that exists in Los Angeles. Warehousing exploded in the early 2000s, thriving in a region hungry for jobs, loose with development subsidies, and low on regulation. Many of the 100,000 workers in the 300-plus warehouses in the Inland Empire have consistent, regular, decent-paying jobs. But others, perhaps 30 percent, move from job to job, with little or no permanent employment relationship. These workers are employed through staffing agencies, paid the minimum wage or slightly above. They are provided with no benefits, and consistently have to fight to keep their employment. The use of these staffing agencies was originally justified by the industry to account for the ups and downs of goods movement, but their presence now functions to create a permanent underclass in the sector - a pool of hungry temps willing to do any job offered, and a credible threat to undercut the conditions of the directly employed.

Inland Empire = San Bernardino and Riverside

—p.220 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

[...] While there are thousands of union members in the region, its labor movement lacks the cohesion and power that exists in Los Angeles. Warehousing exploded in the early 2000s, thriving in a region hungry for jobs, loose with development subsidies, and low on regulation. Many of the 100,000 workers in the 300-plus warehouses in the Inland Empire have consistent, regular, decent-paying jobs. But others, perhaps 30 percent, move from job to job, with little or no permanent employment relationship. These workers are employed through staffing agencies, paid the minimum wage or slightly above. They are provided with no benefits, and consistently have to fight to keep their employment. The use of these staffing agencies was originally justified by the industry to account for the ups and downs of goods movement, but their presence now functions to create a permanent underclass in the sector - a pool of hungry temps willing to do any job offered, and a credible threat to undercut the conditions of the directly employed.

Inland Empire = San Bernardino and Riverside

—p.220 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago
222

[...] The NLRB excluded temp workers from its scope with its 2004 Oakwood decision, ruling that in the context of a union campaign, the eligibility for organizing of temp workers was up to the manager of the workplace. This effectively kept union organizers out of the warehouse sector, because any employer could quickly bring in more temps to displace direct employees in the case of a campaign or strike.

—p.222 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

[...] The NLRB excluded temp workers from its scope with its 2004 Oakwood decision, ruling that in the context of a union campaign, the eligibility for organizing of temp workers was up to the manager of the workplace. This effectively kept union organizers out of the warehouse sector, because any employer could quickly bring in more temps to displace direct employees in the case of a campaign or strike.

—p.222 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago
226

The lesson of the last eight years (and the last 80), is that it really doesn't matter who is in the White House or Congress. Only focused, sustained organizing with local investment blended with a national or global strategy can affect capital at the level necessary to make real change. Perhaps that is beyond the capacity of the labor movement as currently situated. Only such organizing efforts - and many of them, not just one or two - will result in a movement ready to organize "on scale."

there's a section heading earlier called "don't count on politics to save you" lol

—p.226 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago

The lesson of the last eight years (and the last 80), is that it really doesn't matter who is in the White House or Congress. Only focused, sustained organizing with local investment blended with a national or global strategy can affect capital at the level necessary to make real change. Perhaps that is beyond the capacity of the labor movement as currently situated. Only such organizing efforts - and many of them, not just one or two - will result in a movement ready to organize "on scale."

there's a section heading earlier called "don't count on politics to save you" lol

—p.226 by Sheheryar Kaoosji 4 days ago