Bright parasols, wooden sun loungers and expanses of golden sand suddenly appear every summer on what was once a traffic-clogged, 3.3 kilometer road along the banks of the River Seine in the heart of Paris. The so-called “Paris Plages” have been coming to the picturesque waterside location since 2016, after Mayor Anne Hidalgo, following two years of consultation, decided to take the controversial step of closing the road to motor vehicles. “This used to be such a stressful corner of the city,” says Françoise Genet, 38, sipping on a glass of lemonade as her two boys dig around in the sand. “It’s not quite the Côte d’Azur, but now I almost feel like I’m on vacation here.” Under Mayor Hidalgo, Paris has done as much as any city in the world to wage a war on cars amid a growing awareness of the damaging impact they have on cities.
An ad hoc group of rank and file working railroad workers has come together to call for informational pickets at rail terminals around the country. In the face of the controversial Tentative Agreement (TA) that has been reached by the myriad of unions in various forms, this informal grouping has called on railroad workers to join in the protests scheduled for Wednesday. The group has not identified itself by name. It is an expression of working rail workers who are angry and unhappy with the treatment that railroad workers have endured in recent years. The group posted an announcement on social media Sunday. While not party to organizing the Wednesday actions, Railroad Workers United (RWU) supports these types of efforts and encourages all rail workers to take part in the events at rail terminals where planned.
In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package into law, which allocates $1.2 trillion toward infrastructure and was meant to reduce transportation emissions. While the federal government is guiding states to use the funding toward public transit and other improvements, like increased bike lanes, a new report finds that state and local governments may lean toward using the money toward highway expansions instead. The report from U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit organization, maps out highway projects across the country that could use up infrastructure funding while making climate change worse.
In North America we think in extreme terms when it comes to last-mile freight delivery. Whether the cargo is a couple of bags of groceries, a small parcel, a large-screen TV or a small load of lumber, we routinely dispatch vehicles with hundreds-of-horsepower engines. This practice has never made sense, and there have always been niche markets where some products and parcels have been delivered by bicycle couriers instead of truck drivers. Historically, cargo bikes were in wide use in many cities in the decades before cars and trucks cemented their death grip on most urban traffic lanes. Today the cargo bike industry is growing rapidly due to several factors.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The union representing 2,000 Philadelphia school bus drivers and maintenance workers authorized a strike Saturday if they don’t have a new contract by the end of the month. Hundreds of representatives of 32BJ SEIU District 1201 took to North Broad Street, chanting and clapping, after members voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary. The vote does not mean a strike will definitely happen, though — union leaders will make that call. “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” the union members said. 32BJ also represents the mechanics, bus attendants, building cleaners and engineers, and trades workers who support Philadelphia’s 215 schools and 114,000 students. Union officials say the two sides are split on matters of pay, safety, and training. Negotiations resume Tuesday.
Last month, for The Real News, I reported on the egregious working conditions that rail workers on Class I freight railroads are facing, including punitive and inhumane attendance policies, chronic understaffing (after rail companies collectively laid off 30% of their workforce since 2015), stagnant wages, and dire safety threats as trains have gotten longer and heavier while rail carriers have simultaneously sought to reduce crew sizes down to one person. This long-simmering crisis recently came to a head when a coalition of negotiators representing more than 115,000 rail workers were unable to come to an agreement with the rail carriers, who have left workers without a contract for nearly three years.
Although you don’t need to pay for gasoline to fuel up an electric vehicle, driving one still comes with a carbon emissions price tag. However, according to a science advocacy nonprofit, the emissions associated with an electric vehicle throughout its lifetime — meaning production to driving to disassembly and disposal — are still dramatically lower than their gasoline-powered relatives. In a recently released report, the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed emissions data to determine that for almost the entire population of the U.S., driving an average electric vehicle would be less emissions-intensive than an average vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Just 3% of Americans would be better suited with an average gasoline-fueled vehicle, although the report did not make clear which areas that included.
The rail network was brought to a standstill today as thousands of RMT and TSSA members walked out over jobs, pay, pensions and other conditions. RMT is in dispute with Network Rail and 14 train operators while TSSA is striking at Avanti West Coast. Speaking from the Euston picket line, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the union had received an “inadequate” pay offer from Network Rail last week. He said: “It’s a pay offer over three years which is nowhere near the rate of inflation. “And the conditions that they wish to impose on that are not acceptable to the members.” TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes told Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to “get out of the way or get involved directly in talks. I don’t care which one it is, but unless he does that we’ve got no way to reach a settlement.”
Over 40,000 railway workers across Britain are taking a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, bringing another day of widespread delays and cancellations. The action by workers from Network Rail, 14 train companies, and members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), has left only one out of five trains running on average and stopped train service altogether in some parts of the country. The strike is part of the ongoing dispute between unions and companies over pay, job security and working conditions. People across the United Kingdom are struggling against rising living costs and seeing their salaries eaten up by soaring inflation. The latest data showed Britain's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 9.4 percent in the 12 months to June, hitting a fresh 40-year high.
After waiting over two years to secure a new union contract, and still reeling from the impacts of Wall Street-ordered cost-cutting measures, 115,000 beleaguered workers who operate the nation’s freight railroads are inching closer towards a possible strike, which could come as soon as September. In an effort to drive down operating expenses and reward their wealthy shareholders, in recent years railroad companies have implemented “precision scheduled railroading,” or PSR — a version of just-in-time, lean production that centers on reducing the workforce and closing facilities. “For years, they cut and cut and cut. It didn’t matter which department or terminal, it was indiscriminate,” said Michael Paul Lindsey, an Idaho-based locomotive engineer with Union Pacific.
Airport workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic and the labor struggle in recent years. In Florida, for instance, workers in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and beyond have staged multiple actions over the past year to demand a living wage. Many airport workers in Florida earn as little as $7 an hour, tips included. Now, a new bill, the Good Jobs for Airports Act, could establish national wage and benefits standards for airport workers. To learn more about airport workers’ ongoing fight for dignity and higher wages, freelance journalist and new TRNN contributor McKenna Schueler talks with Scottie Walker, a cabin cleaner at Tampa International Airport and a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ .
Freight train workers are fed up. One conductor said he nearly missed his wife’s funeral because he couldn’t get time off. An engineer said he was put on a disciplinary path after having to stay home to fix a broken water heater. Other freight train workers blamed the industry’s on-call, 24/7 scheduling requirements for health problems and divorces — a lifestyle they said had turned one of the best-paying blue-collar jobs in the country into one marred by misery and neglect. After years of cutbacks and service tumult, the country’s freight rail workers are pushing to strike, which could further clog supply chain networks and amp up political heat on a White House already under the microscope for economic woes. The Biden administration said Friday it will appoint a three-person commission to stave off what would be the first strike by freight rail workers in 30 years.
Members of the Aslef union, the 150 workers rejected a 3 percent pay offer from operator First Group and voted almost unanimously to strike, on a turnout of 86 percent. With inflation at 11.7 percent RPI, the company’s offer amounts to a deep pay cut. Services were severely disrupted, affecting the Wimbledon tennis tournament, with no trams running between Croydon and Beckenham Junction, Elmers End or New Addington, and only at 20-minute intervals between Croydon and Wimbledon. A second round of strikes is planned for July 13-14. First Group has a contract to run the service on behalf of Transport for London until 2030. It receives a fixed fee from TfL, pegged to November’s RPI—7.1 percent in 2021. The company has a market capitalization of over £1 billion and is listed on the FTSE 250.
There’s lot of nonsense flying around in the establishment media about the rail strikes. Curtis Daily explains why the strikes and unions are an essential line of defence against the destructive capitalist system the press and politicians are fighting to uphold.
More than 1,300 Southwest Airlines pilots protested the carrier at Dallas Love Field on Tuesday amid tense contract negotiations, holding signs that read “Our passengers and pilots deserve better” and “Southwest’s operation: From first to worst.” The union representing 8,300 pilots at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said the company’s antiquated and inefficient scheduling practices are making life hard on aviators and creating more delays and cancellations. There were enough Southwest pilots to make a line of sign-holders in front of the entire terminal, with another group inside near ticketing, one on the road leading into the airport and another along Mockingbird Lane outside the airport. “Our point is that you have enough pilots today to operate the airline,” said Southwest Airlines Pilots Association president Casey Murray.