Friday, September 11, 2009

An Open Letter To Supervisor, Frank Spencer

By John Musumeci

I am writing to you in response to your letter to the membership dated August 25, 2009. You wrote, as supervisor of the “emergency supervision” your “first and only concern is the membership”, and you have “every confidence in the members of the district council”.

Forgive me for some skepticism here, given your prior performance as supervisor of the 2007 Local 157emergency supervision”, where among other things you refused to answer membership questions (see video) which were emailed and posted on, a blog I started to keep the membership informed.

Specifically I am troubled by your highly questionable action of naming Peter Thomassen as your assistant supervisor of the district council and naming Martin Deveraux, business manager of Local 608.

As supervisor you could have used your authority and named an individual from outside the district council and/or local union untouched by scandal and corruption. Maybe some other business manager or business agent could have brought a fresh perspective and new direction to both council and local operations. Instead by naming Mr. Thomassen who has become embroiled in so many disgraceful scandals that he has proved himself entirely unworthy of membership trust or authority you have signaled to the membership you are not serious in cleaning up the District Council and its “business as usual”.

In June of 1996, the first supervision of the district council, UBC General President Douglas McCarron appointed Vice President Douglas Banes, as supervisor.

In contrast to your predecessor, (with no arrest or indictment of any council officer) Banes removed the entire elected administration from office, including the president, first vice president, second vice president, secretary-treasurer, and trustees to the benefit funds.

At the time GP McCarron stated, that the administration among other things “had mismanaged the district council's funds, hired unnecessary employees to administer the council, leased luxury cars and run up excessive legal bills”.

In December 1999 as the council emerged from UBC supervision, Mike Forde campaigning for EST promised the membership that this would be “the most ethical and corruption free administration ever”. He picked Thomassen as his right hand man for the most important and powerful intersection between the membership and the district council, president and chairman of the delegate body.

Contrast the actions of 1996, with your actions of only removing Forde as EST, after being arrested and charged with a 29-count indictment on August 5, 2009 for corruption, racketeering, bribery and perjury, in a conspiracy that stretches over a decade, involving six contractors, business agents, business manager, benefit fund trustees, shop stewards, associates, council employees and testing positive for cocaine use, is startling to say the least.

A poll on shows 83% do not trust you to supervise the district council’s affairs honestly and support the federal government being brought in to jointly administer the supervision.

Peter Thomassen along with Dennis Sheil was part of Mike Forde's “Unity Team”. Both were and are his biggest supporters, defenders and enablers of the “culture of corruption” that exist at the district council.

As a delegate to the district council from 1999 to 2008 and a candidate for district council vice president in 2008 I can state conclusively that Mr.Thomassen never once informed the delegate body about the corruption the Independent Investigator, Walter Mack, discovered and reported in numerous reports (Boom, Tri-Built, Special Request, among others) taking place at the district council.

From 2003 thru 2005 Mr. Mack uncovered nests of job site corruption, where shop stewards routinely falsified reports and accepted bribes to allow certain contractors to routinely operate large “cash jobs” on major construction sites without detection from the district council.

Mack’s detailed reports show not only that corruption continues to infiltrate the union, but also that District Council officers and business agents have done an “inadequate job of weeding it out and have been either complicit in corruption or, at a minimum, not doing their jobs”.

On June 3, 2005 Mack filed a report on Tri-Built Construction, a corrupt drywall contractor that operated in New York City and Long Island. In the report, among other things, Mack wrote “unfortunately, I have been stymied in my attempts to explore how and with whose assistance a corrupt employee would be able to remove shop steward reports from the District Council’s offices. At the current stage of the investigation, it is impossible to know how many other contractors were able to cheat the District Council and the Benefit Funds with this crude but effective methodology, but I am certain that others exist”.

It is well documented that the district council knew of Tri-Built’s corruption as early as April 2004, most likely even earlier, and did nothing to stop it. No job shut downs, no audits, no business agents informed, no shop stewards removed, nothing.

In November of 2004 Thomassen obstructed Mack's investigation of Tri-built and hired Kroll to take over the investigation from Mack. Thomassen never informed or reported to the delegate body Mack's detailed reports, investigations of corruption, the blocking of Mack's investigation and the hiring of Kroll. To date the findings of the Kroll investigation are unknown.

Time and time again what was Thomassen response to Mack’s revelations about corruption, ignore it and attack the messenger.

In December 2004 the District Council, led by Thomassen, gave notice to Mack by letter, of its intent to fire him; the termination letter cites no reason or cause for terminating Mack.

Thomassen informed the delegates of this action, after the fact on May 11, 2005 at a regular schedule delegate body meeting. Thomassen said the council was unhappy with the “run away cost and the abuse” from Mack. “You don’t know what we went through; It’s been a rough two years of abuse to our members and business agents.” Thomassen also chastised the frivolous anonymous callers to the Hotline Mack operated saying, “if a member has corruption to report he should leave his name”. In the two years that Walter Mack has been investigating Thomassen said, Mack “did not find one business agent doing anything wrong".

Supporters of Mack believe he was fired because of the corruption he was uncovering (which Forde and others have been indicted) and the lack of will by the District Council Officers to combat it.

Mack also reported that the Districts Councils “anti-corruption program” lacked any truly independent investigator responsible for looking into allegations of corruption and found that the District Council was guilty of “at the very least negligence” and has been compromised and questioned the council’s commitment to combat corruption.

It should be noted that while Forde was distracted with his prior indictments and alleged drug use, twice he would be tried, the first he would be convicted and acquitted on appeal; the second he would be acquitted at trial, Thomassen was running the day-to-day council operations (Forde said as much during the 2008 elections).

In June 2001, in violation of the UBC constitution, 1994 Consent Decree and more importantly the trust of the membership, Thomassen along with Forde secretly bargained away the job referral rules, without notifying or seeking the approval of the 15-member negotiating team, the 88-member elected delegate body, the rank-and-file and the federal government who has oversight supervision.

On November 5, 2004 Mack filed a report on the 50/50 Rule and Request System. Mack concluded that bargaining away the job referral rules and the “current request system reduces the out-of-work-list into a paperwork dance with little value to anyone but the contractors who can select the Carpenters they want to work for them.” All the while, the district council encouraged out-of-work carpenters to use the out-of-work list as their source of employment.

Once again Thomassen never informed the delegates about Mack’s report or the devastating effects of the “request system”.

According to Thomassen's sworn testimony on April 12, 2005, the council negotiated the 2001 contract change with Joe Olivieri, (also indicted with Forde) a benefit fund trustee and director of the Association of Wall and Ceiling and Carpentry. According to Thomassen in exchange for “the best contract we have ever negotiated”, he “sold” the job referral rules to the association, and gave them what they wanted, the ability to request and hire 100% of the carpenter work force.

That contract change which Forde and/or Thomassen never reported to the delegates or membership, eviscerated the job referral rules, effectively rendered the 50/50 rule a nullity, left carpenters vulnerable to corruption, reduce the out-of-work list into a meaningless “paperwork dance”, violated the 1994 Consent Decree, led to a guilty of contempt charge on February 20, 2007 by the United States Court of Appeals, cost millions of dollars in litigation, left carpenters to languish on a phony out-of-work list without knowledge that their was little hope of getting a job, deprived the union of having at the job site carpenters whose primary loyalty is to the union rather than the contractor and led us to where we are today!

Thomassen deceived everyone, from the delegate body, to the membership to the federal government. For that act alone Pete Thomassen should be brought up on charges for defrauding the union and egregious breach of fiduciary responsibility.

Mr. Thomassen has never acknowledged any wrong doing on his part and has stated, everything he did “was with the knowledge of the delegate body”. Minutes of the delegate body meeting and current indictment however do not support that claim.

Thomassen also has never ever presented to the delegate body (which he has a duty to do so) a detailed budget of the district council for approval by the delegates. Since the “Unity Teams” election in 1999 District Council spending has skyrocketed from $19 million to over $50 million in 2008!

In June of 2003, Thomassen and the benefit fund trustees created a new benefit fund know as the “Supplemental Pension Fund”. Thomassen at the time told the delegates “our welfare fund was doing so well that the trustees have decided beginning July 1, 2003 to reduced the hourly contributions in the welfare fund by $1 per hour and reallocate the $1 per hour into this new fund”.

Thomassen also stated “this reallocation of $1 per hour from the welfare fund to the “supplemental pension fund” is seamless to the membership and only a temporary measure as a way to infuse some extra money into the pension fund to help build up the pension fund assets” and "the trustees will monitor the funds closely and move the $1 per hour back to the welfare fund should it become necessary."

Fast forward present day: this $1 dollar per hour “Supplemental Pension Fund” has now grown to over 100 million dollars where members see no pension benefit credit. Members have had a portion of their yearly hourly raises directed into the welfare fund and yet this “temporary supplemental pension fund”, which we never had before, still exists! It begs the question, why?

In all these action’s, Mr. Thomassen has failed to inform and has deceived the delegate body and the membership of this union that pays his salary. Time and time again Mr. Thomassen has mislead and lied to the membership and delegate body.

As president, Thomassen not only has demonstrated his moral failings, but his unwillingness to detect corruption and/or drug use taking place foot steps from his office. Instead he has enabled it, protected it, covered it up and watched it flourish on his watch.

Your appointment of Thomassen does not surprise me; this is not the first time you appointed an individual who finds himself at the center of corruption.

In the 2007 “emergency supervision” of Local 157 you appointed Lawrence D'Errico, business manager. D'Errico one of the five local 157 business agents and a benefit fund trustee appointed by Forde, at the very least had knowledge and witnessed daily corruption (which he has a fiduciary duty and obligation by law to report) detailed in the November 13, 2007 report by Independent Investigator, William Callahan. You also appointed Mike Forde assistant supervisor.

Your letter also states, “We will conduct a thorough internal investigation of all council operations and conduct a financial audit of council and trust funds”.

Who is “we”? The same individuals who have betrayed the carpenters and who have been running this criminal enterprise known as the district council? Anything less than a fully independent review and audit of the council and trust funds will show that your actions are phony, an attempt to cover-up and defender of the “status quo”.

If this were a real supervision you would have brought in a fully independent team from the outside to assist you in your efforts of rooting out corruption.

If this were a real supervision you would have used your granted authority and remove all Forde appointed trustees to our benefit funds and all individuals in council leadership position.

If this were a real supervision you would have immediately began drug testing all district council employees.

If this were a real supervision you would have visited each local and answered member’s questions directly and keep the membership updated on your progress, if this were a real supervision...

I look forward to you reporting back to the membership the findings of your through investigation. (below is the original letter sent to Supervisor, Frank Spencer)

Letter to Spencer


  1. Interesting how Thomassen and Sheil have not commented since Forde was arrested. If they didn't know what was going on they should feel betrayed and outraged that their friend and partner lied and betrayed them all these years.

  2. I have written a few times here and on the jawin web sites about testing our officials. Polygraph and drug test will weed out the riff-raff, however I noticed no response by anyone as to weather this is possible, or acceptable. The non reaction tells alot about the many of you would fail these test. "Proud to be union" I'm wondering why?

  3. It is said that Pete has 7 to 10 friends and family members working at the district council, and his son who makes over $150,000 a year just got a fully loaded jeep! what exactly does his son do?

  4. Corruption is uniquely reprehensible in a union because it violates the system's first principle, that the union exists to serve the membership, not particular companies or individuals or even elected officials. We Are the Union, this union belongs to us and its about time we start speaking up!


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.