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“I often have no choice in the matter,” said Willie Brown, 51, president of Transport Workers Local 234, the union representing SEPTA’s bus drivers, subway operators, and trolley drivers.”I don’t think it’s a matter of if we strike,” he said. “It’s simply a matter of when, unfortunately.”On Sunday, union members moved a step closer to a strike, voting to allow Brown to call workers off the job – any time, and without warning.

via SEPTA union boss ponders effects of a strike.

All aboard. Just not the bedbugs.Sixteen subway cars on eight trains have been treated for bedbugs in recent weeks, and riders and transit workers are getting creeped out.”I try to avoid taking the N train, if possible,” said one rider. “I take the D or I can take the F since I found out about the bedbugs because I don’t want none of that coming into my house.”The bulk of the bedbug sightings have taken place on the N, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority taking those trains out of service once the presence of the nasty critters is confirmed.However, the Transport Workers Union said that’s not enough and wants the entire fleet fumigated before school starts.”The TA is not being proactive. They’re just dealing with it as the situation pops up,” said Joe Costales of TWU Local 100. “We’re asking them to address this proactively so that we can stop the scenario from spreading.”

via Presence of Bedbugs in Subway Scares Riders, Transit Workers – NY1.

ST. LOUIS • Dozens of Metro workers picketed outside Metro headquarters Thursday afternoon to demand the agency finalize a new contract with their union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788.The union represents about 1,500 bus and commuter train drivers, mechanics and clerical workers, who have worked without a contract for about three years. Its members say they are angered that Metro President and CEO John Nations was recently given a contract extension through 2020 and a $75,000 raise. Nations will earn a salary of $325,000 starting in the fall of 2015.“If you can get a raise, why can’t you give us a fair contract?” asked Pandora Holman, 49, of East St. Louis, who said she had driven a bus for Metro for 26 years. “We need to feed our families.”

via Metro workers picket outside transit agency’s headquarters, demand new contract : News.

Virgin America Inc. flight attendants voted to establish the first union at the airline partly owned by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson, ending its status as the largest U.S. carrier without organized labor.Collective bargaining with the Transport Workers Union raises the prospect of higher operating costs for the airline, which filed July 28 for an initial public offering. The carrier reported second-quarter net income of $37 million yesterday after posting its first annual profit in 2013.Today’s vote follows a decision in April by pilots at JetBlue Airways Corp. to join the Air Line Pilots Association, ending that carrier’s status as the largest nonunion U.S. airline at that time. JetBlue flight attendants also are seeking an election on TWU representation.“With this vote, flight attendants will have a say on how to further improve Virgin along with their own work lives,” John Samuelsen, TWU International executive vice president, said in a statement. “This is a chance to make the airline better for both customers and workers.”Virgin America’s attendants supported the TWU with 58 percent of the ballots cast, the labor group said. It was the second union vote for attendants at Burlingame, California-based Virgin America, who rejected the union in December 2011.

via Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote to Create Union – Bloomberg.

Sixty of the 762 Muni operators involved in the infamous three-day sickout in June were apparently well enough to pick up their paychecks at the transit agency’s headquarters on the same days they called in sick.If they don’t come up with a good explanation, the operators could have their pay docked – the same penalty facing more than 300 of their colleagues who called in sick and haven’t been able to back it up.The sickout, which led to missed runs and long delays and shut down the cable cars, came after operators overwhelmingly rejected a contract that would have given them an 11.25 percent raise over two years, but also would have had them make a 7.5 percent pension contribution that previously had been paid by the city.The drivers called that unreasonable, and though their union didn’t call the sickout, the operators’ solidarity was apparent. More than two-thirds of Muni’s 600 vehicles were kept off the street the first day of the sickout, June 2, a number that only marginally improved by the time operators went back to work.

via Muni sickout: Too ill to work, but just fine for payday – SFGate.

After months of speculation, low-cost U.S. airline Virgin America Inc. has finally filed a registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission SEC to launch its Initial Public offering IPO. The California-based carrier has timed its IPO well given a recovering U.S. aviation market.Virgin America plans to raise $115 million from the IPO. However, as of now, it remains tight-lipped about the number of shares to be offered and the price range. Further, the stock exchange and ticker symbol have also not been mentioned by the carrier. Although the timing of the IPO is unknown at present, it generally takes two to three months to get the SEC clearance.Notably, the filing follows the carrier recording its first full-year profit in 2013 in March this year. The company, partly owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, has had a torrid time since its launch in 2007.Virgin America provides service to 22 different destinations in the U.S. and Mexico using a young fleet of 53 narrow bodied Airbus A320 aircraft. The carrier is currently expanding to serve an increased number of markets from the base cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. With a population base of 27 million people, expansion from these markets will boost its long-term prospects. The twin slot wins at LaGuardia Airport in New York and Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. in addition to two gates at Dallas Love Field airport from American Airlines Group Inc. AAL – Snapshot Report will also strengthen its operations from these markets.We believe the IPO, when launched, will get a good response from investors as the U.S. aviation sector is now showing signs of improvement, having recovered from the impact of a lackluster first quarter dampened by a severe winter. Most of the legacy airline companies managed to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the second quarter of 2014, with only JetBlue Airways Corp. JBLU – Analyst Report reporting in-line results.Further, two of the traditional carriers – United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL – Analyst Report and American Airlines – have initiated their respective share repurchase programs with the latter even declaring a dividend for the first time since 1980.However, Virgin America, which had so far been facing price competition from listed peers like Delta Airlines Inc. DAL – Analyst Report, will now have to cope with stock price volatility once it gets listed. Meanwhile, the IPO will ensure that another floating airline stock adds to the investors’ wide choice range within the sector. If Virgin America can improve further on its previous year’s performance, it can eventually go on to become an attractive bet in the stock market.

via Virgin America Files for IPO amid High US Airline Earnings – July 31, 2014 – Zacks.com.

A coalition of eight unions representing 5,400 Long Island Rail Road LIRR workers accepted a takeaway contract settlement in New York July 17, blocking a threatened strike that could have crippled the country’s largest commuter rail line.The agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority MTA was proclaimed by United Transport Union president Anthony Simon, the lead union negotiator, as a “fair deal,” adding he was “comfortable our members will support it.”In reality, the LIRR settlement is only the latest in a series of concessions contracts negotiated between public employee unions in New York and the Democratic-led state and city administrations of Governor Mario Cuomo and the self-proclaimed “progressive” Mayor Bill de Blasio. These Democratic politicians, promoted by the unions as “friends of labor,” have been able to push through givebacks that their Republican predecessors were unable to achieve.

via Long Island Railroad unions accept concessions – World Socialist Web Site.