Friday, November 30, 2007

Construction Jobs Increased by 5.4 percent in the City

Job growth in the New York area over the past year outpaced every other region in the nation, with more than 77,500 new jobs reported in the latest national survey released yesterday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Construction jobs increased by 5.4 percent in the city to 121,700 jobs, the largest increase in this industry since February 2001, even as the number of construction jobs nationally fell by 1.4 percent.

"This is really good job growth for the city," said Martin Kohli, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The city outpaced the national average of a 1.2 percent increase over last year.

Immediate Release To All Union Members

For Immediate Release November 26, 2007-- Over the last several weeks, the officers of the District Council have been presented with credible information, showing that some business representatives assigned to work in Local 157 were not performing their jobs in the manner expected of them by the District Council and that they had, in other respects, acted inconsistently with the standards expected of District Council employees. In response to this information, we interviewed those representatives to get their side of the story. After considering the matter, the Local 157 Business Manager and one Business Representative have resigned their employment by the District Council and from all Local 157 and District Council elected positions. Another Business Representative has been suspended and reassigned to work in another area. Another Business Representative was discharged.

To stabilize the governance of the Local and restore the service the Local 157 membership and all District Council carpenters working in that Local’s jurisdiction deserve, the District Council invoked the procedures of the UBC Constitution and asked General President Douglas McCarron to order an emergency, temporary supervision over the Local. Under our constitution, only General President McCarron has the authority to order such measures to protect the welfare of the Local and its members. On November 26, 2007, General President McCarron, acting on our petition, ordered an emergency supervision be imposed on Local 157. Mr. McCarron has appointed the UBC’s Eastern District Vice President Frank Spencer to lead this supervision and the District Council’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Mike Forde, as his first assistant supervisor, to oversee the orderly restoration of internal self-governance and the responsible management and conduct of the Local’s and the District Council’s business in Local 157.

The officers of the District Council thank General President McCarron for his prompt response to their request for assistance in this matter, and are committed to working with the UBC, the officers and members of Local 157, to ensure that the important tasks ahead of us are carried out with respect and honor for the rights and welfare of all our members.

Michael J. Forde- Executive Secretary Treasurer, Peter Thomassen- President, Denis Sheil- Vice President 395 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014. Contact: Audra Donohue (212) 366 – 7523

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pickets protest contractor at job site

Union carpenters have been picketing at 48th and Broadway to protest some work being done by a nonunion contractor.

Mike Martin, business representative for Carpenters and Joiners Local 189, said the picketing began Monday because the union feels that Maas Construction "is not paying area standards" in wages and benefits to its workers.

Jerry Maas, owner of the construction company, refutes that claim. Maas says his nonunion employees not only are paid a fair wage but probably make more in a year than most union workers do.

"I guess what they call 'area standards' and what everybody else calls 'area standards' are just two different things," Maas said.

Martin said no union carpenters are doing work on a Maas Construction job site in a portion of the former K's Merchandise building.

"He (Maas) is not a union contractor, so our guys wouldn't be able to go to work for him," Martin said. "So we're basically informing the public that we don't believe he's paying area standards — and that's wages and benefits."

Maas admits his firm is "not union and I don't hire a lot of union carpenters." However, he says he has a regular crew of solid, reliable employees who are given a fair wage and a wide range of benefits, including health insurance, pension and paid holidays.

Union carpenters "want to work for one wage and work six months out of the year, and we work for another wage and work all year round," Maas said.

"I've got guys that have been with me 10 to 20 years, and they work all year round, and they're making more money than those guys, regardless of what they tell you."

Maas believes the picketing is intended to try to prevent him from winning a bid to build the new County Market store that will go inside the old K's Merchandise building. Bidding is currently under way for that project, and Maas Construction is one of the bidders.

"They're trying to squeeze Niemann Foods into not hiring us if we're the low bidder," Maas said.

A pet supply shop has already been built on the west side of the old K's complex. Maas said his crew is currently working on a Pampered Pets business that will occupy about 1,000 square feet in one corner of the 88,000-square-foot building.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Supervision for Carpenters’ Local Union 157

By Steven Greenhouse --The New York Times
The carpenters’ union local for the East Side was placed under emergency supervision yesterday by Douglas McCarron, the president of the parent union in Washington. In a news release, the parent union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, said officials with Local 157 here had acted inconsistently with the standards expected of the union’s employees. Members of the carpenters’ union said its independent investigator was looking into allegations of no-show jobs at Local 157. Also yesterday, the union announced that the business manager of Local 157 had resigned. One business representative was fired, a second resigned and a third was suspended, the union said. Mr. McCarron has appointed the union’s Eastern District vice president, Frank Spencer, to temporarily oversee Local 157.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Local 157 Under Temporary Supervision

Latest Update: I went to the local Monday morning, here's what happened. President and business manager Bill Hanley, Vice President/ business representative George Dilacio and Financial Secretary/business representative Fred Kennedy have resigned. Trustee/business representative Danny Demorato has been reassigned to work in another area. The local was placed under an emergency supervision by General President Douglas McCarron. Eastern District Vice President, Frank Spencer has been appointed to temporarily oversee the supervision of Local 157.

NYC District Council EST Michael Forde, has appointed council organizers Rambo Ibric and Anthony Puglise as temporary business representatives and Lawrence D’Errico has been named business manager.

All schedule local 157 meeting have been suspended, the annual Christmas party has been canceled. The district council has mailed a letter to all members explaining the supervision. Will update as more information becomes available.

Related Articles

District Council Bulletin-posted Friday, November, 30

New York Times Article-posted Tuesday, November,27

Local 157 Officials Suddenly Resign-posted Wednesday, November,21

New York’s Construction Boom Puts More Women in Hard Hats


November 26, 2007--Olga Aguilar walked through a tunnel of scaffolding at 6:30 a.m. on a recent weekday and into the Brompton, a 20-story condominium building going up at 86th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.

Passing groups of men in the lobby, she made her way into the basement and through a maze of plywood shacks, and opened the door to one of them in a corner.

Inside, there were none of the Playboy centerfolds that typically line construction shacks. Instead, there were vitamins, moisturizing creams and energy drinks.

The shack — a cross between a locker room and a tool shed — is reserved for women. “This is unprecedented,” said Ms. Aguilar, 31, who is one of four women working as apprentice carpenters at the Brompton.

Ms. Aguilar is part of a small but noteworthy shift in the construction industry: since 2005, more women have gone into the building trades in New York City than at any other period in history, according to trade union officials.

The women are training to be electricians, plumbers, steamfitters, ironworkers, bricklayers and, most often, carpenters. In the New York City District Council of Carpenters, 280 of 2,000 apprentices, or 14 percent, are women. Most are finding commercial construction jobs.

Though the work sites are decidedly male-dominated, the appearance of more women in hard hats is a result of a campaign by the city and some unions. In 2005, as a construction boom swept the city, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg formed a commission to recruit members of minorities, military veterans, high-school dropouts and women into the building trades.

At the same time, local trade unions agreed to fill 10 percent of new positions in apprenticeship programs with women — the carpenter’s union set its goal at 15 percent — and the State Department of Labor allowed women to jump to the front of the line when trade unions recruited apprentices instead of making them go through the traditional lottery system.

Two years ago, women made up 2.2 percent of the city’s 175,400 construction workers, according to the United States Census Bureau. That figure has inched up to about 3 percent today, industry officials said.

“We have a construction boom and a commitment by the unions to employ women,” said Amy Peterson, the local president of Nontraditional Employment for Women, a group that offers a free six-week training program in the building trades. “We can turn it around and make it not unusual to get women into construction.”

This year, the group placed 158 women in building trades apprenticeships, compared with 139 in 2006 and fewer than 50 in 2000.

For many women, the building trades represent an escape from poverty. Apprentice wages start at about $16 an hour, plus benefits. After a five-year apprenticeship, a carpenter makes about $42 an hour.

For some, a construction apprenticeship also is an opportunity to start over. Yordanis Jusino, 23, took a plumbing class while she was serving a prison sentence for attempted murder and is now enrolled in night classes held by Nontraditional Employment for Women. “There’s a big stigma,” said Ms. Jusino, who lives in the Bronx and was 16 when she went to prison. “Everyone thinks that once you’ve been an inmate, you can’t change.”

Elaine Stanley, 28, is a third-year apprentice at the Brompton and part of a different group of women going into the building trades: those who have college degrees or are changing careers. Ms. Stanley was teaching sixth grade in the Bronx but had not decided on a permanent career when she learned about the Nontraditional Employment for Women training program in 2005. “I was interested and open,” said Ms. Stanley, who added that she had long found architecture-related careers to be appealing.

Ms. Aguilar used to be a night manager at a bar in the West Village. “I knew from growing up that working with my hands was something that I enjoyed doing,” said Ms. Aguilar, who helped her father, a factory worker originally from Guatemala, renovate a building when she was a girl growing up in Chicago.

From 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every weekday, the apprentices at the Brompton unload tractor-trailers, deliver materials, erect metal frames, lay down insulation and strap themselves into harnesses to hang and repair safety netting. “We started this building,” Ms. Aguilar said.

Elly Spicer has a rare perspective on how the construction industry has changed. She has been a construction worker and an organizer in the carpenters’ union for 22 years, and there was a time, she said, that “if a woman set down her hard hat, she could pick it up to find a male co-worker had used it as a toilet.”

When Tamara Rivera, 41, became a carpenter’s apprentice in 1994, she said, foremen routinely ignored her when handing out assignments. Co-workers would call her “butch” or, conversely, “precious.” She often did not have a separate bathroom to use. “Sixty guys, and I would be the only girl,” she said. Now, she added, “you might still be the only girl, but the attitude is changing.”

There is a new camaraderie between men and women in unions that veteran women carpenters said was once unheard of. “They’re just happy that you can pull your weight,” said Eva Paz, 36, a second-year apprentice in the carpenters’ union, who has a “No Cry Baby” sticker on her hard hat.

Dane Finley, 50, a shop steward at the Brompton who has been a construction worker for 28 years, said: “When there’s ladies on the job, you can’t be animals, knuckleheads. It changes the way everyone acts.”

Pat A. Di Filippo, executive vice president of Turner Construction Company, one of the city’s largest general contractors, said: “Women are finding this is a business, that it is not the boys’ club it once was. It’s a business that needs people to perform tasks, and you’re a woman who can do that task.”

The foothold that women have gained during the construction boom may expand in the coming years. Developers working on large projects at the World Trade Center site and the Atlantic Yards complex in Brooklyn are aiming to employ a work force that is at least 15 percent women.

“As long as the industry remains strong, there will be continued opportunities for women and minorities to join the building trades,” said Louis J. Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers Association, which represents 1,500 contractors in the city that employ union workers.

But what will happen when construction slows is an open question.

“I do fear that,” said Ms. Stanley, the former teacher. “That’s why I try to learn as much as I can, so when that happens, I will have a reputation and people looking out for me.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We Are In It To Win!

Some of you suguested I repost this excellent speech by General President Doug McCarron, addressing the delegates at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Convention in Las Vegas, August 2005 “Rebuilding the UBC”. Click here for video

Carpenters International President Doug McCarron Endorses John Edwards

Brothers and sisters in cased you missed it, John Edwards receives the endorsement of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in Nashua, N.H. on September 8, 2007. Hear International President Douglas J. McCarron introduce and endorse him.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Union smells a rat as art school work continues

The School of Visual Arts continues building its newest dormitory on the Lower East Side to house hundreds of students by next fall, regardless of a menacing-looking, 15-foot inflatable rat overseeing construction.

A group of workers from the New York City District Council of Carpenters has been protesting construction, with the red-eyed rodent as their mascot, alleging that the laborers being used at the site are underpaid and haven’t received proper safety training.

The planned 20-story, 80,000-square-foot residence hall, located at 101 Ludlow St. at Delancey St., will hold 350 beds in a mix of private and semi-private rooms, said Michael Grant, the art school’s spokesperson.

Grant deferred judgment of the allegations to the city’s Buildings and Labor Departments, while Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, said the union has asked the board to take a position at next month’s meeting regarding worker wages and safety conditions.

“This has only come up once in the past,” Stezter said, noting that C.B. 3 “is not an investigatory board.”

The locally based Charles Blaichman Real Estate Development Corp. approached S.V.A. to develop the project, which has only been built to about three stories so far and also endured D.O.B. stop-work orders.

Charles Blaichman, who has developed extensively in the Village, did not return calls for comment.

Andres Puerta, an organizer for the carpenters’ union, said his workers — and their fanged friend — plan to protest each weekday, “hopefully until they open the front doors,” he said. “We’re not going to give up.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Brothers and Sisters


The first Thanksgiving in the New World was celebrated in mid-October 1621, nearly one year after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Much later, George Washington was the first of many American presidents formally to proclaim a day of thanks. The following prayer was offered in 1789, in appreciation of the hard-earned independence of the United States of America: (click here)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Local 157 Union Officials Suddenly Resigned

New York Breaking News...Three local 157 union officials suddenly resigned on Wednesday November 21, 2007. President and business manager Bill Hanley, Vice President/ business representative George Dilacio and Financial Secretary/business representative Fred Kennedy met with carpenter union head EST Michael Forde at NYCDC headquarters early Wednesday morning in a closed door meeting, and sources say resigned. Union officials at the District Council would not comment other than saying "it's a personal matter". Story still developing...

Tri-Built Construction Admits Fraud

NEW YORK -November 21, 2007 - An Ardsley contractor faces up to five years in prison after admitting yesterday that he defrauded a carpenters union of millions of dollars by bribing union officials, using non-union workers at union job sites, and paying union carpenters off the books.
Patrick Noel McCaul, 48, of Winding Farm Road, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to one count of conspiracy. His partner in Tri-Built Construction Co., James Dermot McGonnell also pleaded guilty.
The two admitted they engaged in a decade-long plot to defraud the District Council of New York City and Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of millions of dollars. Tri-Built was a drywall contractor that held itself out as a union contractor and did business in New York City and Long Island. The company had contracts on numerous publicly funded projects, including a construction site at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
When they were indicted in December, federal prosecutors said the two men illegally skimmed $6.5 million in benefits that should have gone to the union.
McCaul and McGonnell were able to underbid other companies for jobs because they knew they would pay workers cash at non-union rates without any benefits or tax withholding, federal prosecutors said. They admitted paying an employee of the union benefits fund to destroy internal records which might show the fraud if the books were ever audited.
As part of their plea, the two men agreed to forfeit $1.5 million which will be paid to the benefit fund, federal authorities said.

Contact and About Us

Let's be heard! Hi, I’m John Musumeci and I write this blog to help keep you up-to-date and informed about the United Brotherhood Of Carpenters (UBC) in New York City.

I started this blog in November 2007 when Local 157 was placed under emergency supervision by General President Douglas McCarron.

I think of this blog as your online meeting hall where union brothers and sisters’ can Communicate, Connect and Stay Informed.

This blog is dedicated to empowering and mobilizing the membership into an irresistible force through the free and open exchange of information, ideas and opinions in the belief that as Union members you have the right to information, to hear, and to be heard!

I have over twenty five years experience as a carpenter and ten years experience as a elected leader. I am committed to reform, members rights, free speech and empowering the members of this union. I hope this blog will empower you to become more active in union affairs.

To contact me, please email me at or you can call me at 646-812-3527

Friday, November 2, 2007

Former NYCDCC shop steward, David Veltri, gets 27 months in prison

On Friday, November 2, former NYCDCC shop steward, David Veltri, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for accepting at least $8,000 in cash bribes during the period of January through May 2004, from the owners of Tri-Built Construction Inc. in return for leaving Union Carpenters off his shop steward reports for the Kings County Hospital project in Brooklyn.

Veltri's actions helped Tri-Built defraud the NYC District Council Benefits Fund out of at least $70,000 in contributions. Veltri, who pled guilty to charges of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of an employee benefit plan on June 15, will also serve a term of 3 years supervised release, pay a fine of $8,000 and provide $70,000 in restitution to the NYCDCC Benefits Fund.

Tri-Built owners Patrick Noel McCaul and James Dermot McGonnell have been charged under a separate indictment for a long-running scheme to defraud the Council and its Benefits Fund.

B.C. carpenters end 'epic struggle'

Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun--Members vote in favour of breaking away from U.S.-based union-- B.C. carpenters have voted in favour of a settlement allowing them to break from their U.S.-based union in favour of a newer Canadian union. (read full story)