Uber drivers in NYC petition for a union election

Uber drivers at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a union representation election.

The workers want to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1430.

The petition for union representation came after Uber imposed a 15 percent fare cut.

Local 1430 organizers have been talking to some Uber drivers at LaGuardia for the past year about organizing a union, but the fare cut ignited outrage among drivers that set the union representation process in motion.

Jordan El-Hag, Local 1430 business manager, said that drivers wanted a voice on the job.

“Uber’s imposing changes unilaterally and (the drivers) want to have a say, said El-Hag to the International Business Times. “It’s about having a say over their livelihood.”

Uber recently announced fare cuts in 100 cities in the US and Canada. The cuts range from 15 percent to 45 percent.

The cuts caused some Uber drivers to walk off the job in New York and San Francisco.

In New York, 600 Uber drivers demonstrated at Uber’s New York City headquarters to protest the fare cuts.

Tsering Serpa, an Uber driver, told the New York Times that because of the fare cut, he will have to work 10 to 14 hours a day. Serpa told the Times that before the fare cut went into effect, he was working eight hours a day six days a week.

“New York City just keeps getting more and more expensive,” said Sherpa to the Times. “How are we supposed to survive on less money?”

The New York demonstration was organized by the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance.

There are about 30,000 Uber drivers in New York City, but rather than trying to organize all of them at once, Local 1430 decided to organize a small group of drivers that share a community of interests.

Uber drivers at La Guardia learned that in order to pick up fares at the airport, they needed to stay in close proximity to it. As a result, they began gathering at the same airport parking lot waiting for dispatches from Uber.

The parking lot became a de facto work site, said El-Hag to the International Business Times.

Even though Uber has not responded publicly to the petition, it is certain that the company will challenge it before the NLRB.

As it has in the past, Uber will likely argue that its drivers are independent contractors and therefore have no rights to form unions and bargain collectively.

But a recent ruling by an NLRB regional office in Arizona could have some impact on how the NLRB rules.

NLRB Region 28 Director Cornele Overstreet recently rejected arguments by Tucson Yellow Cab that its drivers are independent contractors.

Overstreet wrote that independent contractors must have “actual entrepreneurial opportunity for loss or gain,” but Yellow Cab sets fare rates and controls other facets of the job that limit entrepreneurial opportunity.

Consequently, Overstreet ruled that a union election take place at Yellow Cab.

Local 1430 is hoping for the same result at LaGuardia.

The fact that an IBEW local ended up helping LaGuardia Uber drivers organize is an interesting story in itself.

At one time, Local 1430 represented workers in New York City’s electrical manufacturing industry, but most of those jobs have been moved out of the city.

Instead of fading away, Local 1430 decided to reinvent itself. It became a self-described organizing local.

“Seventy percent of our time and resources are spent organizing,” said El-Hag to The Electrical Worker. “The rest of the time is devoted to servicing existing units. This is the reverse of many locals.”

“All of our business agents act as organizers,” continued El-Hag. “Our goal is for each business agent to organize 100 new members each year. We conduct staff meetings each week to review targets. Our guys are on the street every day making contact with workers inside and outside industries we are focusing on. Even as they service locals, agents stay busy in the mornings, afternoons and evenings visiting workplaces to collect organizing contacts and information.”

Local 1430 represents workers at about 40 companies throughout New York City and surrounding  areas.

The organizing culture at Local 1430 led its organizers to make contact with some Uber drivers at LaGuardia.

When the fare cuts set off a spontaneous demonstration by Uber drivers, Local 1430 organizers began collecting signatures on union authorization cards, the first step toward getting the NLRB to hold a union election.

Three days later, Local 1430 petitioned the NLRB for an election.

A lot will be riding on the final outcome of this organizing drive. If successful, it could change the way that Uber and other sharing economy businesses treat their workers.

Unions protest shared services layoffs at UC Berkeley

Union members at the University of California Berkeley (UC) on February 4 delivered a petition to UC leaders urging them to stop the layoffs of 28 employees who work for the university’s Campus Shared Services.

Campus Shared Services (CSS) is a centralized administrative unit that provides academic support services such as information technology, human resources, finance, and research administration to faculty and students.

The idea of centralizing administrative service at UC first surfaced in 2010 when a consulting firm called Bain & Company recommended doing so.

Bain & Company estimated that centralizing administrative support services could save UC between $12 million and $15 million a year.

UC leaders said that they needed to find ways to save money because state funding was declining.

In 2013, UC began implementing CSS.

Almost as soon as UC decided to centralize support services, unions representing campus workers warned that doing so would lead to layoffs and diminished services.

CSS was implemented gradually. Full implementation was finally complete in March 2015.

In November, the first layoff notices were sent out, and the University Professional and Technical Employees CWA Local 9119 and Teamsters Local 2010, which represent the laid off workers, began a campaign to stop the layoffs.

On February 4, members of both unions demonstrated in front of UC’s administration building and delivered the petition to a representative of UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

The petition said that centralized shared services had not delivered the efficiencies that the consultants had predicted and that “cutting jobs at CSS won’t eliminate the problems we all know exist with CSS, it will only make them worse.”

Those at the February 4 demonstration had the same message,

“Layoffs (are) not really going to solve the problem of making workloads more efficient, which is what CSS was created to do,” said Alicia Flores, an administrative assistant at UC, who took part in a union sponsored demonstration.

Before CSS was implemented some faculty also warned that centralizing support services would create inefficiencies rather than efficiencies.

Their warnings proved to be prescient.

The Daily Californian reports that a 2014 survey of faculty found that half were spending more time on routine matters previously performed by support staff.

According to Panos Papadopoulos, chair of the Academic Senate, survey responses about the performance of CSS were “overwhelmingly negative.”

Sam Davis, professor emeritus of architecture, in a 2015 blog post laid out some of the problems that centralized shared services created.

For one thing, writes Davis, “Placing 600 University employees on 4th Street (two miles from campus) was problematic from the beginning.”

“Separating the management and administration from its academic and intellectual enterprise undermines a main motivation for employees, creates a caste system, and limits collaborative problem solving. We are not making widgets,” writes Davis.

Davis also notes that the separation of CSS support staff from the campus has created more work for staff who remain on campus because interfacing with CSS is so difficult.

Problems created by CSS have, according to Davis, caused some schools and colleges at UC to hire additional staff despite tight budgets.

Davis goes on to write that “it is unclear whether CSS is saving money, but I doubt it.”

“Savings must be offset against the cost of purchasing and operating the new building,” which according to Davis cost $24 million.

In fact the original cost savings estimated by Bain & Company to be $12 million to $15 million a year were subsequently scaled back to about $6 million a year.

In 2014, reported cost savings amounted to $2.1 million.

An opinion piece appearing in the Daily Californian put the implementation of CSS at UC in a much wider context.

According to the opinion piece’s authors, centralized shared services is being implemented on other campuses and in the private sector “across the US economy.”

The effect has been the deskilling and division of  work in order to save money. The cost savings rarely end up resulting in better services, but they do benefit those at the top of the organization.

“The benefits of ‘streamlining,’ ‘efficiencies’ and the like ultimately accrue to the of upper-level managers, who are rewarded for perceived cost-savings at the expense of quality of service,” write the authors, Dan Russell, who works in CSS, Jean Day, the president UPTE, and Lyn Hejinian, a John F. Hotchkis professor of English at UC.

UPTE and Local 2010 said that the petition urging the administration to halt the layoffs is only the first step in the fight to stop the layoffs and prevent future layoffs.

Local 2010 has filed two grievances charging that the layoffs have violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement with UC.

“UC faculty, staff and students have a vested interest in standing together with workers at CSS for a university that serves all our interests — and those of the vast majority of Californians — not simply those of the few who stand to profit from a leaner, less effective and frankly demoralized group of campus workers,” write Russell, Day, and Hejinian.

CWA: It’s time to take on Wall Street

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has launched a campaign to restore economic and political democracy in the United States.

“We see our democracy being drowned by the unchecked mega-contributions of  Wall Street banksters and hedge fund moguls,” said Chris Shelton, CWA president on a nationwide teleconference with thousands of CWA members.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1 percent, said Shelton has tipped the balance power in their favor, and the result is a number of bad policy decisions that have enriched the few at the expense of many, said Shelton.

Shelton described some of the problems that the new concentration of wealth has caused:

Taxpayers were forced to bail out the too-big-to-fail banks in 2008 when their wild speculation crashed the world economy.

The wealth of the 1 percent has “grown obscenely” while everyone else’s wages have stagnated.

Congress last year passed fast track authority for the job-killing Trans Pacific Partnership.

“Enough is enough,” said Shelton. “It’s time to take on Wall Street. Its time to rebuild an America that works for working people, not just the 1 percent. It’s time to build a mass movement to take on the banks. That’s why CWA is launching our Take on Wall Street Campaign.”

The campaign has four immediate goals:

1. Break up the big banks so taxpayers don’t have to bail out banks that have grown too big to fail.

In the 1990’s, the government broke down the barrier between retail and commercial banking, said Sen. Elizabeth Warren who spoke to CWA members during the conference call. As a result, Wall Street banks were able to use the bank accounts of every day Americans to speculate on the economy, which led to the financial crash in 2008.

“The banks got rescued,” said former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who also spoke during the teleconference. “But the ensuing recession cost millions of workers their jobs, their homes, and their savings.”

That can’t be allowed to happen again, said Warren. We need legislation that breaks up the big banks, ensures that they can’t use government insured funds for speculation, and prevents banks from cheating people.

2. Tax Wall Street speculation.

“A 0.5 percent tax on Wall Street trades could generate as much as $130 billion a year,” said Shane Larson, CWA’s national legislative director. “That’s enough to fund Bernie Sanders’ free higher education proposal and there would be enough left over to build schools, improve health care, and fix our deteriorating highways, bridges, sewer systems, and water works, which would create thousands of good paying jobs.”

3. Get money out of politics.

Corporations and the super rich have taken control of the political process by making huge campaign contributions, said Shelton. We need legislation that limits the amount of money that corporations and individuals can contribute to political campaigns.

4. Make fund managers pay their fair share of taxes.

The tax code is stacked against working people, said Sen. Warren. Hedge fund managers get more than a  50 percent discount on their income taxes. Their income should be taxed at the same rate as working people.

Also, there are too many loopholes in the tax code that allow the rich to avoid paying taxes.

“The carried interest loophole alone allowed 25 people to avoid paying taxes on $11.6 billion of their income,” said Sen. Warren.

CWA plans to build a broad coalition around this agenda. In the next few weeks, CWA will announce the organizations that have agreed to take part in the Take on Wall Street Campaign.

CWA will also conduct an information campaign directed at CWA members. The union will hold train the trainer workshops to teach union leaders and activists about the campaign. Leaders and activists will then return to their locals to give this information to members.

Shelton said that it’s important for CWA to take on Wall Street because every time the union sits down with an employer, the banks are either directly or indirectly at the table on the side of the companies.

Verizon is a good example.

Verizon has a close relationship with Wall Street banks.

Two banks, Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corporation are among the ten largest institutional shareholders in Verizon.

JP Morgan Asset Management, a division of JP Morgan Chase, is also a big institutional shareholder in Verizon.

JP Morgan Chase and Verizon have a long, symbiotic relationship.

When Verizon in 2013 bought out its partner  Vodaphone,  JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley provided a $60 billion bridge loan that made the deal possible.

JP Morgan also was one of the Wall Street underwriters of bonds that financed the buyout.

The bond sale generated tens of millions of dollars in fees for JP Morgan and other Wall Street banks.

Wall Street has supported–some might say encouraged–Verizon’s divestment in its traditional wireline services.

This divestment has led to a decline in wireline services and to Verizon’s hard line against its union workers at the bargaining table.

Even though Verizon is an immensely profitable company, it is still demanding concessions from its union workers, the vast majority of whom work in its wireline division.

It’s going to take a mass movement to reduce the power of Wall Street, said Shelton.

“One thing that members can do right away to get this movement off the ground is to support, Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign for President,” said Shelton. “Bernie has made curbing Wall Street’s power one of his main issues.”

“Wall Street has destroyed our economy,” said Larson. But we can rebuild it by engaging our fellow union members in the fight to take on Wall Street.

Detroit teachers union sues to get crumbling schools repaired

The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and a long list of parents and students on January 28 filed a lawsuit asking a judge to compel the Detroit school district’s emergency manager to repair dilapidated school buildings that threaten the health and safety of Detroit’s public school students.

The lawsuit also asks the judge to require the emergency manager to create a capital fund that will fund upgrades to Detroit’s crumbling school buildings.

Finally, the suit asks the judge to return the school district to local control.

“Educators and parents have been raising the red flag for years about dangerous school conditions, only to be snubbed, ignored, and disrespected by (Detroit Public Schools) and the emergency managers . . . ,” said Ivy Baker, DFT’s interim president.

The lawsuit suit describes the deplorable conditions under which students, most of whom are African American, must learn and teachers must teach: Gaping holes in walls, fallen ceilings, rodents and their droppings in the halls and classrooms, swarms of roaches, black mold, unrepaired water damage to walls and ceilings, poorly maintain restrooms, and classrooms where students must wear coats to keep warm in the winter and where they swelter when it gets hot.

These conditions were brought out in the open by a series of sickouts carried out by teachers.

The sickouts began in December and picked up momentum in January. At their height, 88 of the Detroit’s 100 public schools were closed down.

The school district’s emergency manager Darnell Early asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to get DFT to end the sickouts, but the judge refused the request because the sickouts weren’t organized or sanctioned by DFT.

Instead, they were organized and carried out by rank and file teachers frustrated by the poor learning conditions in their schools.

A week after the judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order, the union filed its lawsuit in a Wayne County Court.

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) in 2009 was put under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the Michigan governor. Poor student performance and mismanagement that put the district in financial peril were the reasons given for taking away local control.

The emergency manager was supposed to improve academic performance and fix the district’s financial problems.

Since 2009, four people have served as emergency managers of DPS. None has been successful at either task.

The school district’s debt has increased since an emergency manager was appointed and academic achievement has not improved.

Early, the latest emergency manager, also was the emergency manager who oversaw the conversion of the Flint water system that rendered the city’s water undrinkable. He was appointed to both positions by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

Like the water problems in Flint, Early and Gov. Snyder knew about the problems in Detroit’s school building before they were exposed to the public by the teachers’ sickout.

And like they did in Flint, they ignored the problems.

The lawsuit suggests that they decided to ignore the school problems school because the governor had other priorities.

“Under emergency management, DPS’ assets have been practically given away and its student body split amongst charter schools and the Education Achievement Authority (EAA),” reads DFT lawsuit.

EAA is Governor Snyder’s experiment in education policy. It’s a state board controlled by the governor that has taken control of 15 Detroit schools.

The EAA schools instruct students through the use programmed learning software developed by Agilix and the School Improvement Network (SNIP), two Utah-based companies.

EAA schools employ education facilitators to help students to navigate the software. Some of these facilitators are recent college graduates with no formal education training recruited through Teach for America.

EAA schools have been plagued by controversy.

E-mails between EAA officials and representatives of Agilix and SNIP show that they were using EAA’s Detroit schools as an experimental testing ground for the software in hopes that its numerous defects could be corrected. The companies then hoped to market the software more widely.

The software had proved to be ineffective in Kansas City where it was first implemented.

EEA touts the success of their schools, but Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter, reports otherwise:

“The most recent MEAP (Michigan’s statewide achievement test) results show that a high majority of EEA students are either stagnating in terms of math and reading proficiency, or falling further behind,” reads Guyette’s investigative report in Detroit Metro Times.

While Gov. Snyder’s EEA was experimenting with unproven education software, Detroit schools continued to crumble and its financial situation has continued to deteriorate.

According to the lawsuit, under Gov. Snyder’s watch, “DPS’ per pupil funding has dropped significantly. As a result, DPS’ fiscal emergency is worse than ever. After six years of state control, the annual budget deficit is larger this year than the last fiscal year that a locally elected school board governed the District.”

“DPS’ fiscal condition and administrative indifference has left facilities in disrepair,” continues the lawsuit.

After the lawsuit was filed, Bailey accused the state of bringing “the school district to its knees” and called for a return to local control.

“Detroit teachers should be commended for bringing these problems to light,” said Bailey. “They work so hard despite the poor conditions and make so many sacrifices to give their kids a great education.”

Sharing economy workers seek their fair share

As the result of a grassroots campaign by Seattle ride-share  and taxi drivers, the Seattle City Council in December voted 8-0 to allow drivers who work for Uber and Lyft as well as taxi drivers to form unions and bargain collectively.

Ride-share and taxi drivers in Seattle are classified–some would say misclassified–as independent contractors, and as such, they do not have the same protected right to organize and bargain collectively that most workers have.

The Seattle ordinance gives them that protection.

Ride-share drivers aren’t the only unprotected workers. They are joined by a large contingent of workers who work in many fields.

These so-called independent contractors make up the bulk of labor in the new sharing economy, businesses that operate internet platforms that link customers to service providers by apps.

In California, state Representative Lorena Gonzalez has introduced the 1099 Self-Organizing Act, which if enacted would extend organizing and bargaining protections to workers in the sharing economy.

The sharing economy is a growing part of the US economy. About 20 percent of jobs created since the end of the Great Recession are in app-based companies like Uber and Lyft and temporary staffing agencies, both of which rely heavily on a precarious workforce, unprotected workers who work for low pay and receive few if any benefits.

Companies like Uber have been able to stay afloat and attract investors such as Goldman Sachs, which has $1.6 billion invested in Uber, by shifting much of their business costs and risks to their workers.

Uber drivers pay for their vehicles, pay for their insurance, don’t have any safety net benefits such as company-sponsored health care.

If they are hurt on the job, they won’t be able to collect workers compensation because the company doesn’t pay their workers compensation insurance premiums.

If the economy takes a downturn and drivers don’t work because there isn’t enough demand for Uber services, drivers can’t collect unemployment insurance because Uber doesn’t pay for it.

When Uber drivers are too old to work and must retire, they won’t collect Social Security because Uber doesn’t make Social Security contributions for its drivers.

The lack of protections and other reasons led some Uber drivers in Seattle to organize the App-based Drivers Association, which is affiliated with Teamsters Local 117.

“Since I started driving for Uber, Uber has cut our pay without notice, terminated drivers without giving a reason, and blocked our efforts to improve our working conditions. We’re looking for fairness and the ability to earn a living wage,” said Peter Kuel, a member of the App-based Drivers Association after the Seattle City Council passed its worker organizing ordinance.

The Seattle ordinance allows drivers for app-based companies and taxi companies to choose a non-profit organization to represent them.

The ordinance requires the city to share the names and contact information of app-based and taxi drivers registered with the city to any non-profit organization interested in helping the drivers form a union.

When a majority of drivers for a company express an interest in joining the non-profit organization, the company must recognize and bargain with the non-profit organization.

“This (ordinance) means a lot to us drivers,” said Fasil Teka of the App-based Drivers Association. “It can have a positive impact, not just for drivers in Seattle, but for independent contractors across the country.”

The bill introduced in the California General Assembly by Rep. Gonzalez seeks to accomplish the same thing for workers in the sharing economy but in a slightly different way.

The bill would allow independent contractors working for app-based companies to organize themselves and bargain collectively. The bargaining unit wouldn’t have to be affiliated with an established union.

“There are pitfalls and benefits to the (sharing) economy,” said Rep. Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Times, “We need laws that promote it and protect it, but also protect workers and ensure they don’t slip through the cracks.”

Gonzalez’s bill is far from being a sure thing to become law, but it does represent an acknowledgement among some policy makers that rights of independent contractors need to be redefined and expanded.

It’s not likely that companies like Uber will give up their ability to shift their business costs to their workers without a fight.

Uber has already indicated that it will challenge the Seattle ordinance in court.

Nevertheless, passage of the Seattle ordinance and the introduction of the California bill show that the fight to extend basic protections to independent contractors has begun and won’t be going away.

Day of Action at United Airlines

Flight attendants who belong to the Association of Flight Attendants-Communication Workers of America (AFA-CWA) on January 21 staged a day of action at airports around the world to protest United Airline’s collective bargaining stalling tactics

For the last three years since the merger of United and Continental airlines, the two sides have been trying to reach an agreement on a new contract that will replace the collective bargain agreements in place when the two airlines completed their merger in 2012.

According to the union, United is employing stalling tactics in hopes of forcing a concessionary contract on the flight attendants.

United’s concessionary proposals include new scheduling rules that, according to the union, would be “the worst in the industry.”

Scheduling rules not only affect when and where flight attendants work, they determine how much time they will have to rest, to spend with their families, and to enjoy their away-from-work life.

In a bargaining message to members, the union said that United wants to eliminate scheduling protections that flight attendants currently enjoy, so that the company can have “total discretion” in scheduling work..

The union also said that the company wants health care and retiree health care concessions.

The January 21 day of action included public picketing and meetings to discuss strike information at more than 20 locations.

“Flight attendants are done waiting for management to negotiate a (fair) contract,” said AFA presidents Ken Diaz (pre-merger United), Randy Hatfield (pre-merger Continental) and Kathleen Domondon (pre-merger Continental Micronesia). “We are serious about reaching an agreement flight attendants can be proud to ratify.  We are hopeful new leadership at United translates to efforts by management to conclude these negotiations and absent resolution we are preparing to exercise all of our legal options as necessary.”

One of those legal options is a contract bargaining strategy that AFA has successfully used since 1993 called CHAOS, or Create Havoc Around Our System.

Depending on the situation and the strengths and weaknesses of management, AFA employs the appropriate CHAOS tactic or tactics to give its members the maximum amount of bargaining leverage with the least amount of risk.

Some of the tactics used in past CHAOS campaigns include intermittent strikes, system wide strikes, a media campaign to warn potential customers of potential flight delays or cancellations, and actions that demonstrate union members’ solidarity and resolve.

In 1993, AFA was locked in a tough round of bargaining with Alaska Airlines. The company was looking to provoke a strike, so that it could use replacement workers to bust the union.

The union defeated the company’s anti-union strategy by creating CHAOS. In this particular case, the union used selective intermittent strikes, short strikes that end when workers agree to return to work unconditionally, to disrupt flights.

The tactics led to a new collective bargaining agreement that was strongly supported by the membership.

When United changed its leadership team in September, there was some optimism that the bargaining deadlock could be resolved without using CHAOS.

But optimism faded when United’s leadership continued using negotiators from the old leadership team and continued to insist on concessions at a time when United’s business is booming.

United recently reported $7.3 billion in net income for 2015, a 560 percent increase over 2014’s net income of $1.1 billion.

The company will use this surge in wealth to reward shareholders by buying back $3 billion worth of stock, which will also richly reward United executives who own stock in the company by increasing the price of their shares.

The huge increase in net income is primarily due to lower fuel costs. When fuel prices were rising, United and other airlines used the high cost of fuel to justify fare increases and new fees.

United has given no indication that it plans to lower fares or eliminate the fees, but it is returning some of its immense profits to passengers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “starting in February, United . . . plans to bring back free snacks to passengers in economy seats.”

While passengers will be receiving their share of United’ profits in the form of peanuts, United flight attendants won’t be so lucky.

United still wants flight attendants to work longer and harder without adequately compensating them; moreover, the company wants more control over one of the workers’ most precious possessions, their own time.

The flight attendants on the other hand want a bigger piece of the profit pie. Part of this bigger piece should be in the form more worker control over their work schedules and the time that they spend away from work.

“We are standing up for our fair share of the profits we help create,” said Sara Nelson, AFA international president. “This isn’t just about United, it’s about setting the new standard for flight attendants across the industry.”

Europe inches toward implementing a Financial Transaction Tax

The finance ministers of ten European countries reached a tentative agreement in December on a plan for implementing a financial transaction tax (FTT), a small tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments.

Supporters of the tax say that even a tax as small as 0.01 percent on the trillions of euros worth of trades that take place in the 10 countries could generate billions of euros in public revenue that could be used to offset the austerity cuts to public services and public infrastructure.

A financial transaction tax would have the extra benefit of reducing the kind of market volatility and risk taking that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

The tentative agreement does not, however, mean that implementation of the financial transaction tax is a done deal. There are a number of details that need to be worked out and how these details are finally resolved will determine how much revenue the tax generates.

The finance ministers agreed to set a six-month deadline for working out the details of the final agreement.

Some supporters of the tax cheered the agreement.

Simon Chouffot, spokesperson for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, which has been advocating for the tax, told Equal Times that the tentative agreement “is good news.”

“It was never an easy task to implement a new tax on the financial sector, but we are getting there,” said Chouffot to Equal Times. “And importantly, there seems to be an appetite for making the tax as broad as possible, so that it includes derivatives.”

Others were less sanguine.

The European Public Service Union (EPSU), a confederation of public sector unions whose member unions represent 8 million employees, expressed concern that as the ministers work out the details of the tax, they would grant exceptions that weaken it.

“The FTT is an opportunity to make the financial sector give something back to the societies from which it has taken so much over recent years,” said Jan Willem Goudriaan, general secretary of the EPSU. “The countries involved need to agree (to) a strong FTT, without loopholes. European governments have no problem coming to a decision on budget cuts, so they should be able to reach an agreement on the FTT.”

Discussions among European Union (EU) members about implementing a financial transaction tax began after the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, proposed that EU members coordinate their implementation of an FTT.

Progress toward implementation has come in fits and starts.

After failing to achieve a consensus of all 28 EU members, 11 nations–Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain–decided forge ahead with implementation.

Estonia didn’t agree with the terms of the tentative agreement and dropped out.

One of the details that needs to be worked out before a final agreement can be reached is who and what financial instruments will be subject to the tax.

Reuters reports that the tentative agreement stipulates that all share transactions would be taxed including derivatives.

France, however, has proposed exempting market makers, super large brokerage firms that keep markets liquid by buying and selling stocks that they own.

There also appears to be no agreement on the tax rate, and some worry that banks, which have opposed the FTT, will continue to lobby for more exemptions that would weaken the tax.

During the interim period, the finance ministers will also consider how the tax will affect large pension funds and sovereign debt markets.

Public support for a financial transaction tax is widespread in Europe. One poll found that 64 percent of the population in the countries considering implementation favor the tax.

Many of those who support the tax do so because their governments spent billions of euros bailing out banks that engaged in the risky financial speculation that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

The expense of saving the banks played a role in government decisions across Europe to implement austerity programs that resulted in reduced public investment in public infrastructure such as education, health care, transportation, and human services.

The FTT would allow governments to recoup some the bailout money and use it to invest in the public good.

The FTT would be “a much-needed boost for investment to tackle unemployment, generate growth, make Europe more competitive and deal with the refugee crisis,” said Julian Scola, head of communications at the European Trade Union Confederation to Equal Times.

It would also enable Europe “to invest in education and training, in infrastructure, in the shift to a low-carbon economy, in research and development, and in health, housing and social care,” added Scola.