Unions Representing Majority of Railroad Workers Reject Deal – Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Hosed in FTX Cryptocurrency Scam – Union of Southern Service Workers Launched


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Unions Representing Majority of Railroad Workers Reject Deal

Today, the two largest rail unions split on whether their unions would accept the deal to avert a railroad strike.  

BLET, a division of the Teamsters and the largest union, narrowly voted to accept the deal. Meanwhile, SMART-TD, the second-largest rail union, narrowly voted to reject the railroad deal. 

SMART joins three other unions, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE), Brotherhood-Railroad Signalmen (BRS), and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), who represent the majority of the nation’s 115,000 rail union members, in rejecting the railroad union deal. Railroad Workers United (RWU), a rank-and-file group of union members from 13 different unions, applauded the decision. 

With the union deadline for strike action set to expire on December 5, rail carriers are putting pressure on the unions to accept the deal. 

“Despite being straight-jacketed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), starved into submission, and facing intense political and economic pressure to accept the contract and move on, more than half of railroad workers have had the strength to reject the contract,” RWU co-chair Gabe Christenson said in a statement. 

However, it’s unclear if the unions will strike as they are still seeking a tentative agreement. 

“It’s now back to the bargaining table for our operating craft members,” Jeremy Ferguson, president of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, said in a statement. “This can all be settled through negotiations and without a strike. A settlement would be in the best interests of the workers, the railroads, shippers and the American people.”

For more, check out CNBC. 

Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Hosed in FTX Cryptocurrency Scam

The collapse of the cryptocurrency juggernaut FTX has sent shockwaves throughout the financial industry community. Still, one group that got hosed more than most is the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan which invested $95 million in the cryptocurrency plan.

Bloomberg has more on how it happened: 

Ontario’s process seemed to have missed red flags — including FTX’s conflicts of interest with Alameda Research and its lack of a proper board of directors. 

The latter is a particularly strange miss for Teachers, an early adopter of the view that pension funds should pay close attention to the boards and governance of their investments and disclose their voting on public companies. The fund and its first CEO, Claude Lamoureux, were central to the founding of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, an alliance of institutional investors, two decades ago. 

Ontario Teachers said the FTX position accounted for less than 0.05% of the fund’s assets, “small-scale exposure to an emerging area in the financial technology sector.”  

Some experts defend the approach. “We need to realize that the growth of cryptocurrencies over the past five, six, seven years has been tremendous,” Sebastien Betermier, an associate professor of finance at McGill University, said in a phone interview. “From the perspective of a long-term investor like a pension fund, it raises the question, should we invest a piece of our wealth in crypto?” 

For more, check out Bloomberg. 

Union of Southern Service Workers Launched 

In a sign of growing union support in the South, SEIU launched a new union this Saturday called the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW). The group hopes to initially focus on organizing just in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. 

“With eyes wide open to the past and immense hope for a better future, we are building a union to fight for living wages, fair working conditions, and a voice on the job,” Brandon Beachum, a Panera Bread worker from Atlanta, told Common Dreams. “We’re coming together and digging in for the long haul as a union because collective action is the best solution to improve our lives and support our families.”

For more, check out Common Dreams. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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