Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

March 1, 2011: Libya

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

At UN, Attacks on Labor Extend to Elevator Operators, Security, Tradespeople

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- Beyond the anti labor moves the UN has deployed on its UN TV and other engineers, now the elevator operators at the UN are under fire.

  In the week since Inner City Press wrote about moves under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop collecting dues for the UN Staff Union, and to more slowly pay lower level staff, the UN hasn't answered but other workers have stepped forward.

  The elevator operators face cut backs; the Trades and Crafts staff are threatened with downgrade to General Service. UN Security officers see this impacting them, although senior UN official Franz Baumann denies or distances himself from it.

  But the pattern is unmistakeable: under Ban Ki-moon, the UN is eroding labor and collective bargaining rights. The UN TV and engineers jobs have been advertised, at G-7 posts. And under Ban, payments for injury in the line of duty at the UN in New York have reportedly been decreased by 42%. Will the outside union working on the Capital Master Plan respond?

On Friday the UN Dispute Tribunal shot down the attempt to stop collecting union dues. Click here to see the decision. But still the UN Controller Jun Yamasaki wants to dictate where the funds are deposited.

UN's Ban & Kane over left shoulder Alderstein at right, labor moves and impact on CMP not shown

On March 7, after writing a first round up on Ban's anti labor moves, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for a response:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about a couple of labour issues that seem to have arisen. One is the Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, that represents the UNTV, UN Radio and Conference Services people, put out a press release over the weekend complaining of how they… complaining that their labour rights are being destroyed. I know that the Staff Union here has said that the UN no longer collects dues for it and essentially seems not to recognize it as a union. And the G-level staff have submitted a petition — maybe you could confirm that — to the Secretary-General about changing the ways in which they are paid and saying this violates their rights. What’s… is it… what would you say to those who say they see a trend of kind of anti-labour actions by the Secretary-General and on each…? Can you confirm the receipt of the petition, and will there be a response to complaint of these IBEW workers that they have now made public?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I really don’t agree with the notion that there is some kind of trend here. On the other specific questions you have asked, if I have further details, then I would get back to you.

  But no response has been forthcoming. We have to go back some time to a written response from earlier this year, to just one of the issues, from UN official Franz Baumann:

Subject: Re: Three Press questions
From: Franz Baumann [at]
To: Matthew R. Lee [at]

Dear Matthew, Thanks, as usual, for checking... On the Publishing staff: I can confirm that DGACM has requested OHRM to convert to the General Service (GS) category all Trades and Crafts (TC) category posts and staff in DGACM. This, incidentally, is not at all a downgrading, and our request emphasized that the conversion is to be done in a cost-neutral fashion and that the emoluments of the staff should be what they are now. Converting the TC staff makes them more marketable.

The reason for this request is that technological advances – the replacement of traditional offset printing by digital, high speed photocopiers and much reduced print-runs - obviates the need for licensed tradesmen since digital equipment can be operated by GS category staff. And by considerably fewer. So, when switching from steam to electric trains, what to do with those who have shovelled the coal? A compassionate employer converts them so that they can find useful & satisfying employment.

In reality, the TC category has long been obsolete in the Publishing Section. Of the currently 70 or so TC staff, less than a quarter came with licences. It is worth noting also that the staff at the three other DGACM conference-servicing duty stations, UNOG (Geneva), UNOV (Vienna) and UNON (Nairobi), who work in similar printing facilities, are – and always have been - in the GS category.

   While Baumann says he has nothing to do with UN Security staff, the same argument is being made, that outside of New York, UN Security are General Service staff. But under Ban, payments for injury in the line of duty -- taking a bullet, as one argues -- at the UN in New York have reportedly been decreased by 42%.

   March 11 at the UN, Department of Safety and Security staff told Inner City Press of fight back at the ISCE, and of more fights to come. Others spoke of solidarity with the elevator operators, and with the Aramark food service workers, also hurt by the Capital Master Plan. But would the Plan be slowed, by the Teamsters and AFL-CIO workers? Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Under Ban Ki-moon Attacks Unions, G Staff & IBEW Engineers, Will Labor Fight Capital Master Plan?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 -- With the US polarized by fights between labor and state governments, and with the UN attributing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East to employment and cost of living issues, the UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has moved on several fronts to undercut labor rights.

  For some time, Ban's administration has been trying to break the UN Staff Union, most recently by moving to no longer collect dues for it. Meanwhile, it has moved to pay its General Service staff less frequently, and to downgrade Tradespeople to general service staff.

  Ban's office has been served a petition with hundreds of signatures attached, protesting his move to pay General Service staff less frequently.

  The text of the petition, attached, notes the UN's “United States Headquarters Agreement, Section 7(b) which states, 'Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement or in ,the General Convention, the Federal, State and local law of the United States shall apply within the Headquarters district.'”

   That then is a question: does US and local labor law apply to what Ban's UN does to workers in the Headquarters district?

   If it does, not only would or should the UN have problems with the Democratic Party constituency it works most closely with -- most recently in defense, along with Peter King (R-NY), of the UN keeping $100 million in US Tax Equalization Funds -- but also with the organized labor groups from the AFL-CIO and Teamsters who are on the UN campus as part of the Capital Master Plan.

One labor side observer mused that Ban Ki-moon is creating a little Wisconsin on the banks of the East River.

After weeks of telling Inner City Press to hold off the story because negotiations continued, on March 6 the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, Local 1212, sent Inner City Press and a handful of other UN correspondents a press release about workers of UN TV, as well they say of IBEW engineers in UN Radio and Conference Services:

NEW YORK, NY, TBD 2011: Local union representatives are preparing for what they describe as United Nations actions' that could result in bankrupting their pension fund and significantly reducing the size of their bargaining unit. The United Nations has notified IBEW Local 1212 through its contractor, Priority Productions Services, Inc., (PPS), that it intends to remove seventeen union positions and place them under the direct auspices of the United Nations. The individuals hired in these positions will receive less pay than the individuals they will be responsible for supervising. In addition to decreased benefits, these individuals will lose not only their collective bargaining rights, but also the protections provided by Federal and New York State Labor Laws.

The Union is concerned that this is just the first step, eventually leading to the UN's absorption of the remaining bargaining unit positions by the end of June 2012. The Union currently has 67 members employed as broadcast engineers by PPS at the UN. After this initial "reorganization", the unit size will be decreased to fifty. Although, the Union engineers have provided uninterrupted television and radio broadcast, and conferencing services at the United Nations headquarters in NYC for the past sixty-seven years, the UN seems focused on decreasing, if not eliminating, the Union's presence.

The UN's actions will require seventeen current supervisors and maintenance engineers to reapply for their jobs as UN staff employees at a lower pay rate and with a considerable reduction in benefits. They will have to compete for their positions with UN staff members, as well as with applicants from the general public. The supervisors and maintenance engineers may opt to decline to apply for the UN positions, in which case they will automatically be demoted to non-supervisory positions at a significant reduction in compensation. The scheme will result in a ripple effect as one IBEW engineer will be laid-off for each supervisor or maintenance engineer who declines to apply for the new UN position. Additionally, the elimination of seventeen positions would seriously impact the Union Pension Fund's financial stability as there would be a reduction in contributions to the fund. The resultant decrease in participants in the medical coverage offered by contractor PPS may also lead to an increase cost for the remaining engineers.

The UN intends to implement these changes on June 30, 2011 when the current union contract expires. The United Nations has stated that its plan is a cost cutting measure that will provide the UN with continuity. Union representatives have offered cooperation in negotiating an alternative resolution with the UN in exchange for protecting the collective bargaining rights of its members. The union maintains that it is prepared to offer workable, alternative scenarios. The UN has not commented.

  Inner City Press previously covered when the UN, under officials Angela Kane, Andrew Nye and Joan McDonald, gave the contract for this work to sports broadcasting company Venue Services Group on the verge of bankruptcy which as it shrank moved its furniture inside the UN for storage. Now Ms. McDonald is back, as one of many Ban administration returning retirees, making new decisions, with no accountability, some say.
    But this time, with the CMP underway and being questioned, there could be consequences for these anti-labor moves. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -