Monday, May 5, 2008

Local 157 Wins One for The Rank and File

by Silence Dogood

The question of rank and file member’s success with a web site or blog that “Rocks the Boat” so to speak has been answered at Carpenters Local 157 in NYC. Local 157 Blogspot created by members John Musumcei and Pat Brennan is a FREE and OPEN blog without restrictions set by the Union. All are welcome to post and the only restrictions are civil behavior. All Union business can be discussed and there is no attempted to hide the so called dreaded “Dirty Laundry” There are no Teamster Power type gag orders just free and open discussion of all UBC Union business.

There has been much discussion on the subject of uncontrolled open forums on the Internet by Union members and its potential to result in the sky falling if unchecked by Union Officials Control. I have always argued that it is just plain censorship by those with quite a bit to hide. Supporters of this type of censorship and Union Propaganda sites have given us speech after speech trying to rationalize and justify the need for Union Officials to censor their membership for the good of the Union. We have been given the doom and gloom warning about the potential for irreversible damage to the Union movement if members are allowed to have democratic rights or free speech. We have been warned that we must hide all negative Union actions behind closed doors for the sake of the movement. The 157 blog has given us an example of free rank and file speech that has not resulted in the sky falling. That is not to say that the UBC Officials who now have to answer for their actions are very happy that they did not attempt to impose Teamster Power gag restrictions on this site. It is however to late. By the way John Musumeci is a 157 Treasure and Pat Brennan is a Trustee.

Local 157 has been seized by the International in a Trusteeship, which as it turns out might be in violation of the LMRDA and at the least in violation of the UBC Constitution. For all the possible violations click here.

The issues that have been allowed to be posted on the 157 Blog for the past two months have resulted in a special call club meeting for the 157 members to discuss the continued supervision and to discuss the Constitutional issues raised on the 157 blog. This meeting is the direct result of the member’s discussion and postings on this blog. It would have been business as usual otherwise. After the postings on this blog the required LM15 appeared at the DOL, which was not there in February when the blog discussion began. The outcome of this meeting and the actions taken to resolve the issued raised on the blog will have a wide ranging on all members of the UBC.

Local 157 Blogspot is a shining example that rank and file members can engage in open and uncensored discussion on all Union business. The result is not doom and gloom as predicted but a positive and beneficial conclusion for the rank and file 157 members. Members and outside posters conducted themselves in a civil and positive manner and worked towards a goal that was in the best interest on the membership. Rude behavior and vulgar language was dealt with as Matt Noyes predicted in his previous post. It was done so in an expedient and constructive manner and the blog and discussions continued on. The Local 157 blog further proves that the membership can conduct itself in a productive manner without the guidance or restrictions of the Union Official who would rather keep his activities in the dark.

The Local 157 blogspot should also give us an insight into the need for open and uninhibited exposure of possible illegal and detrimental actions by Union Officials. Had the issues raised been not posted in public and had the UBC moved to censor the blog than the possible illegal actions would have gone unchecked and unchallenged. The result would have only benefited those that hide behind the cover of gag orders to continue their questionable activities. The end result of the 157 blogspot is that free and open discussion has resulted in the membership demanding and receiving the rights they are guaranteed in a democratic Union. Thank god John Musumeci did not build just another Union Propaganda site. Had we listened and keep these possible illegal activities in the dark behind closed doors than we would have enabled the behavior. If Union Officials engage in questionable or possible illegal behavior we have a duty to expose it for all to see. If they are so worried about the negative impact on the Union then perhaps it is THEIR duty to act in a positive manner. It IS NOT our duty to help them cover it up

Update: As a result of the very public exposure at 157 Blogspot it has been announced that regular meetings will resume on May 7, 2008 and that Nominations will take place in July and Officers elected in September. The people illegally planted as officers by the District Council will now face nomination and election as is dictated by the UBC Constitution or must be sent packing. The UBC has informed the members that their lawyers are drafting a response to the possible After the NYDCC attempting to shut down the club meeting it was held APRIL 21,2008 by the members. While there are many issues still to be resolved this is a great victory for the rank and file members of Local 157. It was made possible by the PUBLIC FORUM and EXPOSURE that the Union "Dirty Laundry" received at 157 Blogspot. Not only was it essential to stop the UBC from railroading the Local but it should dispel the theory that Union members need to be guided, censored and controlled by the very people who are attempting to railroad them. The question was asked if the Union should be responsible for providing the membership with an open forum at their expense with the possibility of ridicule. The answer is a resounding yes. Why. Because the sites are built with member’s dues and built by Union employees who are paid with members dues and assessment money. The question should have been should the Union Officers spend money on building Propaganda sites where they censor the membership with member’s money. You see the Unions are operated under the premise that the members need someone to think for them. The theory is promoted that the membership are too ignorant and uncivilized to solve their own issues in a public forum. Local 157 blogspot is an example for the future of the Internet and Unionism.

9 comments:

  1. I could not have said it better, Great job John

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  2. The Local 157 blogspot site is great -- lots of nice features and it plays an important role in the struggle to rid the local of corruption and promote member control over the union.

    Interestingly, the posting guidelines for comments on the Local 157 Blogspot site suggest members should conduct themselves as if they were at a local union meeting and include this line: "Rude, mean, or obnoxious comments are not welcome and will not be approved to post."

    As a posting policy, this is not much better than the one on TeamsterPower -- one person's obnoxious is another's vital truth. Again, like a broken record, why not be more specific -- ban foul language, porn, spam?

    There are many tools that could be used as well to organize the "offending" content without killing it -- tags for flaming, or for off-topic comments, flags for inappropriate content, etc.

    But what is more interesting about this to me is the relationship between the posting guidelines and the larger purpose. The Local 157 Blogspot site functions as an independent, rank-and-file site, a forum for member participation in reforming the local and holding the UBC accountable. The guidelines seem intended to create a space which encourages participation, including criticism and challenges to the leadership. Those on the TeamsterPower site, which is a forum for promoting officially chosen campaigns seek to ensure that the comments reinforce the blog's official message.

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  3. I can say with conviction someone, some one member will have had the balls soon enoughto force open the dirty secrets re: 157 and the NYCDCC's cover up for them. In no uncertain terms it is impossible for the council to distance themselves from one or two rogue BA's who intermittently were involved in corruption. The district council would have you believe they like Hanley Kennedy and the others didn't know this was going on. It won't work for 157 leaders and it can't work like that coming from the district council. They were charged with looking for it and they didn't. Then in order to save Callahans job ( After all he's the inside man for them @ DOJ because Haight accepted NYDCC's suggestion What reality is that I ask you ) He stumbles onto evidence that seemingly enough was much earlier available with subpeoana power by a seasoned investigator all this time Yet ???????

    The individual set on putting light on this subject, Not to mention 20 yrs of discreditation to the NYCDCC anti corruption efforts, will need the members support to remove the present leadership. Are ya up for that.

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  4. How do we get this information and how soon is soon.

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  5. Thats a very interesting post. I have been inspired. Thanks.

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  6. Thanks for the nice information.This will help a lot of users.

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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.