"more labor news than a month of the L.A. Times"


L.A. Labor News * Editor: Jim Smith * April 18, 1995 * #2




* Companies don't pay OSHA fines.

* Union-busting at SoCal Edison.

* Janitors ratify contract.

* County worker layoffs halted.

* Newt News.

* How to get the Media to your union's event.

* Labor Notes conference.

* Sin Fronteras conference.

* Workers' Memorial Day.

* UAW strike in Van Nuys.



Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

April 18, 1995 * #2



What if fines on only a twentieth of all speeding tickets were collected? How effective would parking citations be if only 6 percent of those fines were collected?

You now have an idea why many employers seem to thumb their noses at Cal/OSHA. The California State Employees Association (SEIU Local 1000) released the results of a study, April 13, showing that Cal/OSHA had collected only 5.9 percent of the fines it has levied in large cases for violations of workplace health and safety standards since the beginning of 1991.

Fines initially totaling $9,189,264 in 138 cases resulted in collections of only $571,916. The study conducted by CSEA through the California Public Records Act focused on those cases where private employers were initially fined at least $20,000.

Three workers died in the L.A. subway in a tunnel explosion that resulted in the issuing of safety violation charges to the contractor Shea-Kewit-Kenny in Oct. 1994. To date, Cal/OSHA has yet to collect a dime. The initial fine of $447,000 is still on appeal. If Cal-OSHA's track record since January 1991 is any indication, then that fine will be reduced to about $72,000.

In all 24 instances where the appeals process has been completed for "willful-serious" violations &endash; the most serious offense &endash; fines have been reduced by 84 percent.

This is a sad record for a department that was once head and shoulders above the federal agency. "Cal/OSHA used to be a leader in setting new standards on health and safety," said Linda Delp, director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) program. "The Wilson administration has made it a low priority and now we are falling behind," she added.

Meanwhile federal OSHA is under attack in Congress. In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act put the law squarely on the workers' side. Since then the job fatality rate has been cut in half with an estimated 140,000 lives being saved as a result of OSHA.

HR 707, sponsored by Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) would repeal all of OSHA's enforcement authority including the right to conduct inspections and issue citations.

S. 526, sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) would cap OSHA penalties for non-serious violations at $25, less than many parking fines. Most employers would receive warnings instead of citations under this bill.

S. 592 would make it more difficult to assess fines against companies and would exempt many from OSHA inspections. It also shifts significant responsibilities for maintaining a safe workplace from employers to workers!

For more information contact CSEA Communications Rep. Drew Mendelson at 71112.145@compuserve.com or 916/326-4342.



The Southern California Edison Company has hired a union-buster, is laying off 466 employees and trying to undermine members support for their union. They're also playing hard-ball on concession demands at the bargaining table.

In response, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 47 is playing hard-ball right back. "We have opposed making concessions at the bargaining table. Right now there is a stand-off," says Local 47 Rep. Scott Hanlon. Bargaining is continuing in the presence of federal mediator Jan Sunoo.

The utility has hired consultant David J. Burke who is mentioned in Marty Levitt's book, Confessions of a Union-Buster. Hanlon says Levitt and Burke both worked for Modern Management Methods (3M), a notorious union-busting outfit. Burke is just one of an army of consultants to whom the electric company paid $50 million last year.

"Edison's agenda has been to crush the life out of this organization and the independent voice of its employees," charges Local 47 Business Manager Rae Sanborn.

Deregulation is apparently driving the war on Edison's employees, Hanlon believes. "Their rationale is that as the industry is restructured along competitive lines, price becomes more important than environmental concerns, being nice to low income rate payers and treating employees fairly," says Hanlon. Since labor costs make up only 10 percent of total costs, they'll have a hard time making a larger profit even with major concessions.

The state legislature keeps a close watch on Southern California Edison, which has an annual income of $8 billion. Local 47 wants to make sure the utility doesn't get any breaks from elected representatives while its busting its union.

The local, headquartered in Diamond Bar, is working furiously to prevent the recall on May 16 of that area's state legislator, Paul Horcher. He's been target by the right-wing for siding with Democrats in reelecting Willie Brown as speaker of the house.

"We have to persuade Edison it is contrary to their long-term interest to kill our organization," says Hanlon. "Otherwise, they will cancel the agreement, end our union security provisions and come back demanding even more concessions."

IBEW Local 47 represents 5,200 of the utility's 17,000 workers.

For more information, call IBEW Local 47

at 909/860-4239.



Janitors signified their belief that justice had been won by ratifying a new master agreement, 779 to 39, in a secret ballot vote, April 8.

The new contract, which will equalize wages of 8,500 janitors throughout the county, capped a eight year organizing drive. Since 1987, SEIU Local 399's Justice for Janitors campaign has built the unionized workforce from 1,500 to 8,500 or 70 percent of the industry.



SEIU Local 660 won a temporary restraining order (TRO), April 12, to stop county layoffs until a hearing can be held.

Judge Diane Wayne set a hearing for April 28. The union is requesting a permanent order against the terminations.

The county voluntarily halted layoffs of 53 workers who are members of other unions or are non-union.

Local 660 has been able to defeat the initial county plans to layoff 1,200 workers and to convert 90 percent of the 300 layoffs authorized by the Board of Supervisors into transfers.

However, some of those transfers are arbitrary and Local 660 intends to grieve those, says General Manager Gil Cedillo.



About the same time Newt Gingrich's office was announcing the Speaker of the House had decided not to sue union members who took over his office March 15, the Atlanta Labor Council (ALC) was planning another demonstration he won't like.

There will be an "angry protest" held at a Republican fund raiser featuring Newt to be held in Atlanta, April 25, says council president Stewart Acuff.

On March 15, 300 union members took over Gingrich's office in suburban Marietta. Two union members were arrested at the office and charged with inciting a riot and obstructing police. Gingrich vowed to sue the ALC for obstructed a federal office. His lawyers backed off however when it was learned Gingrich has privatized his own office. He rents space from a private landlord not the federal government.

"Everything that Mr. Gingrich stands for is taking away from the American worker," said Tom McGuire, president of IBEW Local 613 at a press conference announcing the protest. The Atlanta Labor Council has invited national labor leaders to join the protest.




by Bobbi Murray

There are a lot of tricks to getting coverage and sometimes you can do them all and still not get coverage. That's how it goes. Nevertheless the essential elements to coverage are credibility and timing.

1. Don't drag reporters out for something that is not newsworthy. Leafletting is not generally newsworthy. Most picket lines are not considered newsworthy unless they are colorful, visual, well-attended and timely. Press conferences to announce something are generally not newsworthy unless you have some surprise elements or they are timed with another larger news event. When you are planning a news event, watch a news show on television. Notice what they focus on in a story. Try to imagine your event being covered that same way - plan elements accordingly.

2. Pay attention to which reporters cover the subject you are promoting. Send news releases to them and the assignment editor.

3. Make phone calls to media in the morning. Reporters and editors get more frantic as deadline draws near. Always ask "Have you got a minute?" or "Is this a good time to talk?" Have your pitch ready and down in a few sentences. Remember, this is a relationship you're building.


1. The best times to hold them are between 9 and 11 a.m. Late afternoon is almost always bad.

2. Whenever possible, do a news event rather than a news conference. At an event something happens - "Several dozen janitors marched through downtown Westwood today, blocking traffic.... " Have your spokespeople picked out with their message ready. Have wranglers to keep an eye out for the press so they can be hooked up with the spokespeople.

3. If you do news conferences, keep them brief. Figure out the message you are trying to convey. Be able to say it in a sentence or two - it should be that clear. Have only as many people as you need speaking - make sure they each have a distinct role to play.

4. Have signs, banners and other things for them to film. Think always of what you can bring in that will convey a message - mothers and children, bags of fake money, color charts showing the point you're trying to make, etc.

5. Fax your press announcements the day before. Follow them up the following morning, early.

6. Have press packets prepared. These tell the reporters who you are and what you are doing. Sometimes a station will send only a crew to get footage - no reporter - and the news that night will feature images of your event with the anchor voicing over what's going on. They may be reading from what you prepared, so make it easy. In your press packet, include a press release, press statements with the names, titles and organizations of people making them, some literature about your group, a one-page fact sheet on your issue, any cute bumper stickers or buttons you may have. Don't cram it with stuff - the media won't read it.

7. Have someone to manage the event - open and close it, get speakers up on time.

8. Have someone else to manage the press -hand out press packets, direct them to the right people to respond to questions.

9. If it's outside, a sound system helps.

Bobbi Murray is Communications Director of CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.





Labor Notes Detroit April 28 -30.

More than 1,100 rank-and-file oriented trade unionists are expected to gather at the 8th Labor Notes Conference entitled Stress and Struggle in the Changing Workplace, says that publication's editor, Jim West.

More than 70 workshops will be held including Inside Strategies, Community-Labor Coalitions, Fighting Privatization, Winning Contract Strategies, Organizing for health and Safety, Organizing Contingent Workers, Giving Your Boss an Art Attack, Union Approaches to Participation, Fighting Racism on the Job, Running for Local Union Office and many more.

In addition to stewards, members and local officers from scores of unions, attendees will include the president of the South African Chemical workers union, Abraham Agulhas; Bob Wages, president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) union; and Bob Clark Secretary-Treasurer of the electrical workers (IUE) union.

Locked out Staley workers, strikers from Diamond Walnut and railroad workers who are preparing for a major strike will be there.

The conference, held at Detroit's downtown Westin Hotel, will begin Friday afternoon and end sometime Sunday afternoon. Registration is $75. Hotel rooms begin at $66 and air fare is discounted 5 percent on Northwest Airlines. For more information, call Labor Notes at 313/842-6262.

Sin Fronteras Chicago April 28 -30.

This is an international conference on immigrant workers. Participants will attend from throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

L.A. participants include John Perez (MAPA), Juan Gomez Quinones (UCLA), Humberto Camacho (UE), Maria Elena Durazo (HERE Local 11) and Juan Jose Gutierrez (One-Stop Immigration). Also attending will be UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and United Mine Workers President Richard Trumka.



More than 6,000 workers die on the job every year, 50,000 die of occupational diseases and the Republicans want to cut already meager OSHA protections!

The L.A. labor movement is not sitting still. A press conference will be held in front of the Ronald Reagan Federal Building at 3rd and Los Angeles streets on April 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The press conference, sponsored by the County Federation of Labor, Sierra Club, UCLA-LOSH and Labor Communicators, is being held the day before Workers' Memorial Day in order to get the maximum press coverage. The organizers are encouraging local unions to hold events at their work sites on April 28.



When Aelco Corporation in Van Nuys demanded a 5 percent pay cut from the salaries of 30 women workers, UAW Local 509 went on strike. The company promptly hired permanent replacements for the strikers, 90 percent of whom are women.

The wage cut affected only women workers since it was targeted at machine operators, all of whom are women. The men in the plant are in a different classification, machinery set-up & repair.

Local Secretary-Treasurer Dwaine Lamothe told L.A. Labor News that the union has represented workers at the plant, which makes plastic and metal squeeze tubes for the auto industry, for the past 15 years. He said NLRB charges were being filed against the company.

Plant Manager Jim Dooling admitted to the union during negotiations that Aelco was profitable, but said a wage cut was necessary if the company was to "stay competitive," says Lamothe. For more information, contact Local 509 at 310/942-1027.



Labor Party Advocates

L.A. chapter meeting. 7 p.m. April 19 OCAW Local 1-547, 4637 Manhattan Beach Blvd (Exit 405 at hawthorne). 213/660-2891.


Meet Lane Kirkland

and Tom Donahue at the AFL-CIO's Regional Conference held at the Bonaventure Hotel, April 21-22. Let them know you're coming - 213/387-1974.


The Wobbles

A film and program about the Industrial Workers of the World. 1 p.m. April 29 Library for Social Studies and Research, 6120 S. Vermont Ave. 213/759-6063.


International Workers Day

The May 1 tradition began in Chicago in the fight for an 8-hour day. Today, May Day is celebrated throughout the world but is ignored by most of U.S. organized labor. The cold war is over, it's ok to celebrate!


Building Partnerships III,

A New Beginning

The California Labor Federation's conference on job training will be held at the Palm Springs Riviera Hotel, May 2-4.

Registration is $125. 415/395-9091.


21st Annual Labor Studies Association Conference

The theme this year is "Organizing and Reorganizing Labor: Past, Present, Future." Academics and workers will rub shoulders in 22 workshops at UCLA's Faculty Center. May 4-6. Registration is $40. 310/794-0385.


National Day of Action to Defeat

the Contract on America

The multi-city fightback has been endorsed by the ILWU. In L.A. a march will be held May 6 beginning at Soto and Cesar Chavez Blvd at 11 a.m. 213/487-2368.


Copyright 1995 L.A. Labor News. To reach L.A. Labor News:

FAX: 310/399-7352 * Voice: 310/399-8685

E-mail: LALabor@aol.com

Postal: P.O. Box 644, Venice, CA 90294

April 18, 1995 * #2