Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Carpenters Terminate Federal Monitor

May 11, 2005 Delegate Body Meeting—President Peter Thomassen informed the delegate body that Judge Charles Haight of Federal Court for the Southern District of New York agreed to end federal monitor, Walter Mack, as Independent Investigator of New York City's carpenters' union, saying that his two-year tenure was up.

On December 2, the district council sent a letter to Mr. Mack stating that under the court order appointing Mr. Mack, the district council can issue a sixty day notice of termination at the end of the twenty four month term.

In response to the district council’s notice of termination, the government filed a motion with Judge Haight to extend Mr. Mack’s role for another eighteen months.
Judge Haight conducted a hearing in early April and after three days of testimony between the district council and the government, Judge Haight agreed with the council to end Mr. Mack's term.

President Thomassen told the delegates that when they agreed to hire Mr. Mack in 2003, Mr. Mack was charging the council $20,000 a month, however Mr. Mack fees soon escalated to over $80,000 a month.

President Thomassen said the council was unhappy with the “run away cost and the abuse” from Mr. Mack. “You don’t know what we went through, It’s been a rough two years of abuse to our members and business agents.” 

Mr. Mack was like a “run away train” spending over $85,000 a month of our member’s money. Spending was “out of control” and it’s costing us too much money, “we had to get the spending under control,” Thomassen said.

Thomassen cited an example of Mr. Mack billing the council $100 per hour, $300,000 total for a girl to answer the Hot Line from 6am to 5pm.

Thomassen also chastised the frivolous anonymous callers to the Hot Line, “if a member has corruption to report he should leave his name”. In the two years that Walter Mack has been investigating "he did not find one business agent doing anything wrong". 

There was no mention to the delegates, of Mr. Mack’s May 2, report, finding that Boom Construction Enterprises, a Queens construction company paid thousands of dollars to union officials so it could hire carpenters for far below the union pay rate.

According to the report, each day at various job sites, over a five-year period, Boom made payoffs to carpenters' shop stewards. The shop stewards, Mr. Mack wrote, then let Boom hire carpenters at less than the union wage and without union benefits.

In the report, Mr. Mack criticized the District Council of Carpenters for not reacting more vigorously after suspicious were first raised.

Mr. Mack will continue as Independent Investigator and operate the Hot Line until a new company is hired, pending government approval. The council has interviewed five other qualified companies to take over the role as Independent Investigator.

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