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Supply Chain

Potential Rail Strike Would Cause Historic Disruption Of Supply Chains

Workers at Canada’s two largest rail companies are preparing for a strike vote that could have severe ramifications for commercial and passenger transportation across the country. Combined, Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC, formerly CP Rail) own and operate over 75 per cent of the country’s rail network, though those tracks could soon go quiet as ongoing negotiations with the rail workers union have thus far been fruitless. Separate collective bargaining agreements between each respective company and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union expired at the end of 2023.

Class One Rail Car Loadings Plummet The Last 17 Years

The number of carloads moved by U.S. Class One railroads has dropped dramatically over the course of the past 17 years. In 2006, the Class Ones moved 32.1 million carloads, while in 2023, they moved just 24.4 million, a 24% decline. Statistics are available through the American Association of Railroads (AAR) and Statista. Meantime, these railroads have made exorbitant profits and engaged in massive stock buybacks to boost the price of their shares, at the same time that the workforce has been decimated, customer service has suffered, Amtrak on-time performance has declined, and safety has been downgraded.

BP, Evergreen Suspend Red Sea Tanker Traffic; Yemen Continues Attacks

BP said it will pause all its tanker traffic through the Red Sea following an escalation of attacks on commercial shipping by Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement in response to Israel's brutal bombing campaign in Gaza. “In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea,” the company said in a statement on 18 December. Similarly, Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen said on Monday that it has decided to temporarily stop accepting Israeli cargo and instructed its container ships to suspend navigation through the Red Sea until further notice.

Railroads Seek Permission For Autonomous Container Car Tests

Savannah, Ga. — Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia today asked the Federal Railroad Administration to allow them to conduct a pilot program that would test Parallel Systems’ zero-emission autonomous container cars. The 211-mile Georgia Central Railway and 233-mile Heart of Georgia Railroad would like to test the battery-electric cars – which can run alone or coupled together as an autonomous train – on portions of their lines beginning next year. “GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia – all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.

UPS Teamsters Start Strike Authorization Vote

With the largest private sector labor contract in the United States set to expire on July 31 at midnight, the eyes of the American labor movement are on United Parcel Service (UPS) and the nearly 350,000 Teamsters who work there. The Teamsters announced a UPS strike authorization vote starting this week, with results to be announced June 16. Union leaders are strongly urging a yes vote. “This is how we win,” said Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien. Our contract fight matters for the entire working class. We want workers everywhere—and especially at Amazon and FedEx—to see that organizing a union leads to better pay and working conditions and greater control over their working lives, and opens the door to a better world.

UPS And The Logistics Revolution

The word “logistics” has somewhat of an impersonal ring to it. When you hear it, you think: massive container ships, cranes, eighteen wheelers, aircrafts, conveyor belts, spreadsheets, contracts, and of course, boxes. It’s almost as if all of this infrastructure that moves our goods around the world, around the clock, is running by itself. But undergirding “logistics” is one indispensable element: Workers. Millions of them, without whom the colossal flow of goods and services would come grinding to a halt. In this episode of The Upsurge, we ask how our modern logistics giants, like UPS – and the Teamsters that keep it running – came to wield so much power.

Workers Fight Back On May Day, International Workers’ Day

May 1 is celebrated around the world, and unofficially in the United States, as International Workers' Day. In honor of this, Clearing the FOG speaks with two workers who are fighting for their rights and dignity. SN 'Yeager,' a spokesperson for the Graduate Employees Organization Local 3550, speaks about the conditions that brought them to go on strike at the University of Michigan (now in its sixth week), the tremendous outpouring of support for their struggle and how the University is retaliating against them. Billy Randel of the Truckers Movement for Justice, which is holding a day-long protest at the Department of Transportation today, speaks about the difficulties truckers are facing in the US and their demands that all workers are paid for all hours worked and greater transparency in the industry.

ILWU Alums Tackle Labor Power And Strategy Questions

Workers in the logistics industry often make headlines when their handling of goods is disrupted by pandemic conditions or labor conflicts. Thanks to global supply chains, many consumer products are now manufactured in one country, shipped by sea, rail, or air to another country, unloaded and trucked to huge distribution centers (aka “warehouses”), and then delivered to retail store chains or directly to customers at home by on-line retailers like Amazon. When workers in any one link in this supply chain have a fight with their boss—on the docks, at a trucking company or railroad, or even in a single newly organized warehouse—their chances of winning are greater if they occupy a strategic “choke point” or can enlist labor allies, at home or abroad, who do.

New Report: The Attraction Of Agroecology

Based on findings from transdisciplinary research and drawing on interviews with eleven different new entrant case studies, this report encourages the governments of UK nations to recognise and act upon the urgent need to focus their support for new entrants into farming on breakingfood down the real barriers to entry for agroecological, short supply chain land-based enterprises. The report shows that agroecological farming and land work is an attractive sector, and investing in routes into agroecology for new entrants has the potential to both rejuvenate and diversify the farming and food production sector, while also helping governments to meet their food, climate and green recovery commitments.

Corporate Billionaires Are Wrecking The Supply Chain

Before these past two years, if you were polling passersby on the street, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone ready to admit that they were seriously concerned about the supply chain. You’d be hard pressed, for that matter, to find many who could describe what the supply chain actually is (present company included). That is certainly not the case today. From shortages—and correspondingly high costs—of groceries and consumer goods like baby formula and sunflower oil to medical devices, “supply chain issues” have become a pronounced source of anxiety and frustration for consumers, workers, businesses, and politicians alike.

Shipping Chaos Is The Latest Sign That Capitalism Is Eating Itself

Larry Fink, the CEO of the world’s largest asset manager, recently wrote in his letter to shareholders that globalization as we know it is over. The war in Ukraine, he argues, marks a turning point in the world economy—though the momentum of globalization had been slowing for many years.   Fink’s pronouncement caused a stir among the international capitalist class. The Financial Times featured an editorial opining that ‘global capital has, for the past 40 years or so, flown too far ahead of national economies, creating stresses and inequalities within many nations.’ FT journalists, of course, have been some of the greatest cheerleaders of this process, which made the conclusion all the more striking. But before we decide whether globalization is over, it’s worth considering what it actually amounts to. I

Capitalism And Baby Formula

“Socialism doesn’t work” is repeated like a mantra. We’re told endlessly that capitalism provides jobs, housing, food, and health care in this country when it does a very bad job of doing all these things. The United States is said to be “the richest country in the world,” a strange statement which implies that the people are prosperous even though they aren’t. Gig work, housing insecurity, medical debt, and student loan debt are all common experiences for people in the U.S. Now, to add insult to injury, the system said to be so superior can’t even keep little babies fed. There is an historic shortage of baby formula. There are parts of the country where food for infants simply can’t be found at any price. This headline is the most honest about the situation.

IMF Cuts Growth Forecast And Targets Wages

In its World Economic Outlook report issued yesterday, the IMF said global growth for this year would be 3.6 percent, down 0.8 percentage points from its estimate in January and 1.3 percentage points lower than the forecast six months ago. For 2021, it said growth would come in at 6.1 percent. These figures, however, only partially depict a picture of a rapidly worsening economic outlook amid continuing supply chain constrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and surging inflation, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and tighter monetary policy, as central banks lift interest rates. The WEO report said “unusually high uncertainty” surrounded its forecasts and “downside risks to the global outlook dominate.”

How We Broke The Supply Chain

Anyone old enough to remember the Cold War is familiar with a scene routinely depicted on U.S. television at the time: the Soviet breadline. Warning Americans about life under communism, these clips showed Russian citizens lingering forlornly outside businesses for hours to obtain basic goods—indelible proof of the inferiority of central planning, and an advertisement for capitalism’s abundance. Breadlines, the Big Book of Capitalism assured us, could not happen in a market economy. Supply would always rise to meet demand, as long as there’s money to be made. Only deviating from free-market fundamentalism—giving everyone health care, for example—could lead to shortages. Otherwise, capitalism has your every desire covered.

Longshore Workers Get Blamed For Delays, As Contract Fight Looms

If you ordered a teddy bear or a designer picture frame as a holiday gift, you know that it likely took a lot longer to get here than in past years. There have been problems getting things from point A to point B since the pandemic started. At one point in October, 77 percent of the world’s ports were experiencing long delays. More than most Americans, Longshore Union (ILWU) members grasp what supply chain problems are and how they come about. Many come from multigenerational families of port workers who understand both their militant union’s storied history and its role in the global economy today. ILWU members handle the containers that go into and out of the United States through nine West Coast ports.
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