Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Comptroller Reports Debarring 26 Contractors For Wage Violations

by Brooklyn Eagle

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. reports that over the last six and a half years his office has debarred 26 contractors who have broken the law by failing to pay workers the required wages and benefits afforded to them under state prevailing wage laws.

“Prevailing wage laws exist to protect hard-working New Yorkers who labor on public projects, such as schools, hospitals and other government buildings and offices,” Thompson said. “Contractors who flagrantly break those laws by underpaying workers must be punished and pay the high price of being debarred from doing business with the city and state.”

“Enforcing prevailing wage laws benefits not only workers, but all New Yorkers by helping to ensure quality work on public projects. By enforcing the law, we also try to ensure that only responsible contractors work for the City of New York.”

Thompson’s Bureau of Labor Law has debarred 26 contractors during his tenure. Of the 26, 15 currently are prohibited from doing business with the city and state.

Contractors and subcontractors are ineligible to submit a bid on or be awarded any public works contracts or subcontracts with any state, municipal corporation or public body for five years when two willful determinations have been rendered against them within any consecutive six-year period, or when there is any willful determination that involves the falsification of payroll records or the kickback of wages or supplements.

The following companies were among those debarred by Thompson:

In February 2008, Start Elevator Inc. and several related entities agreed to being debarred from doing business with the city and state for five years. Thompson also reached a settlement with Start Elevator and Prude Construction Corp., the prime contractor in the case, to pay $257,649, which includes restitution to 23 underpaid workers and a civil penalty to the city.

The case stemmed from prevailing wage violations under two contracts. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) contracted with Prude Construction to replace elevators in the West 4th Street subway station in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Prude subcontracted with Start Elevator to perform certain work. Under a separate contract, Start Elevator also provided elevator modernization work for the Department of Transportation. Start Elevator failed to pay prevailing wages and supplemental benefits to its workers under both contracts.

In January 2008, Kelly’s Sheet Metal, Inc., a heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor, was debarred for falsifying payroll records and failing to pay employees prevailing wages and benefits for their work at Bellevue Hospital. Thompson also assessed an underpayment with interest and civil penalty of $215,668.

The debarment and assessment of underpayment came after a five-day hearing at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Kelly’s Sheet Metal hired three workers “off-the-books” to perform sheet metal work on air-conditioning ducts and steam fitting work on air-conditioning and fire sprinkler systems at Bellevue from November 2003 to December 2004. One worker was paid only $100 per day, and the other two workers received no payment at all.

In December 2007, Paradise Construction officials pleaded guilty to a Class E felony for submitting false payroll documents to the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The prevailing wage violations occurred in 2004 and 2005 on two playground reconstruction projects — Patterson Playground in the Bronx and Harry Maze Memorial Park in Brooklyn.

Paradise also paid $236,544 in back wages and interest to the underpaid workers and $23,654 in a civil penalty. The guilty plea was from a joint investigation conducted by the comptroller’s office, the Kings County District Attorney, the Inspector General’s office for DPR, and the DPR.

According to the criminal complaint and plea agreement, Paradise submitted certified payroll reports to DPR indicating that it had paid at least four workers prevailing wages and supplemental benefits in amounts ranging from $48 to $59 per hour. Investigators, however, found that the company had only paid the workers between $10 and $15 per hour in cash off the books.

In February 2007, Integrity Construction & Consulting Services was debarred for failing to pay seven workers (four carpenters, two laborers and one bricklayer) nearly $300,000 in prevailing wages and benefits. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development contracted with Melcara Corp. to serve as construction manager for repairs and renovations at 536-38 West 163rd St. in Manhattan. Melcara hired Integrity Construction to act as general contractor. Integrity Construction, however, failed to pay the workers the legally required wages and benefits for work they performed during October 2003 to July 2004.

An administrative law judge determined that Integrity Construction falsified its certified payroll reports by understating the number of hours its employees worked and reporting payments for supplemental benefits it had not made. The two laborers received only $10 an hour in wages with no benefits, though they should have received $28.05 an hour and $15.19 an hour in supplemental benefits, and the three carpenters were paid $20 an hour with no benefits, though they should have received $38.78 an hour in wages and $26.31 in benefits.

In October 2007, the comptroller entered into a settlement with Severn Trent Environmental Services, which had misclassified employees performing work on a contract involving the reconstruction of eight tanks at the 26th Ward Water Pollution Control Plant in Brooklyn. The company misclassified millwrights as laborers and paid them at the lower laborer wage rate, with a difference of approximately $20 per hour. As part of the settlement, Severn Trent was debarred and also paid $136,000 in back wages, interest and a civil penalty.

In February 2006, the comptroller’s settled with Cappry Contracting Management Corp. for failing to pay prevailing wages to laborers and pointers who worked on two school construction projects in Queens. The company also failed to comply with requests for information, refusing to submit payroll records and other documentation. Administrative Law Judge Kevin Casey found that the contractor willfully failed to comply with the comptroller’s requests and appear at the hearing, and that the comptroller had established that the contactor had falsified payroll records and failed to pay prevailing wages and supplemental benefits to 19 workers. Cappry was assessed $600,000 including interest and a civil penalty.

In August 2005, Florence XVI Century Marble Inc. was debarred as a result of pleading guilty to a Class E felony for falsely reporting that it had paid prevailing wages and benefits. The company conceded that it filed false certified payroll reports between 2001 and 2004 with the New York City Transit Authority in order to conceal nearly $800,000 in unpaid prevailing wages and supplemental benefits to twenty-six workers on five subway projects. The MTA Inspector General’s Office discovered the deception during a routine audit and brought it to the attention of the Comptroller’s Office and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

In June 2005, Olympia Mechanical Piping & Heating entered into a plea agreement with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Company officials pleaded guilty to paying less than prevailing wages to some of their laborers who installed water meters for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection from 1997 to 2002. The Class E felony convictions constituted an automatic debarment under the Labor Law and the plea agreement included an underpayment and civil penalty of $425,000.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some Food For Thought

By Publius

The real focus here is the immediate future of the NYC District. Don't be fool by smoke and mirrors.

The October 15 & 16 are mere formalities that need to take place because of the "Emergency Supervision".

The MOST important thing to the UBC (McCarron) is not losing the District to the Federal government.

Right now, nobody can claim that they have stood by the membership and they have all FAIL us.
Under a federal consent decree AND the UBC International the NYCDCC leadership subjected the members to reckless and illegal activities.

This is a screwed up situation.

Here is the question for all of you: Under whose leadership will we be protected?

The hearings will give them a sense on what the members want.The UBC HAS TO APPEAR to want the very best for the members.

Have changes such as mandatory drugs testing, suspensions, people fired, and new rules and regulations enough for the supervision to end?

If it did, would there be an election? Is there any chance that power will be handed back to Thomassen without an election? Or are we once again going to be under UBC International trusteeship? Or will the feds take over this union and what does mean?

Things to consider:

  • Have they found any financial irregularities?
  • Why haven't we been updated on ANY of the changes since Spencer took over?
  • Who has Spencer fired and WHY?
  • What is the "new" drug policy of the NYCDCC?
  • Has there been any misuse of power discovered?
  • Why did Spencer suspend the delegates VOTED by the members?
  • Why did Pete Thomassen request Walter Mack off as independent investigator?
  • How much union money was used to pay legal services to fend off Mack's inquiries?
  • Why was Forde fired only when he tested positive for drugs and NOT when he was on trial for 10 years under a similar indictment?
  • This has proven to be a disastrous decision by McCarron. Maybe it should be a rule that union leaders under indictment should excuse themselves from office until their cases are resolved.
  • What does it say about our union when our leaders under federal indictments are allow to retain the offices they are accused of abusing?

Here is my problem:

If Spencer or McCarron think that we will buy the BS that Pete Thomassen, Dennis Shield, Local 608, and close NYCDCC associates had NO IDEA that Mike Forde had a long and well-known problem with cocaine they are DEAD WRONG.

If Jawin had drawings of Forde sniffing coke on its' website 5 YEARS ago as well as being referred as purple head for years, there is no way these guys didn't know.

They might have attempted to get him to rehab.

They might of tried to get him help.

But they fail us when it was never acknowledged it to the members.

Hence Mike Forde ran this union under the influence of cocaine.

It now appears that he wasn't the only one in the district council.

Instead of stopping Mike in his tracks, people close to him turn their backs on the members and appear to have enjoyed the lax and reckless work environment all done with OUR money!

Feds, Spencer, McCarron, and UBC: If you want to start over with this union and attempt to win over the members, YOU MUST fire Peter Thomassen!!! (he can take his good for nothing son with him!).

You have to do REAL HOUSECLEANING. Firing Joe Wing and Jim O'Reily is nowhere near enough!

Please look at LU 608 (the source of many of the job-sites under indictment) and make serious changes!

Food for though:

The most senior position since 2000 has been the Office of the Executive Secretary Treasurer, previous to that, it was the Office of President.

  • 8/10/2009-Present - Under trusteeship
  • 2000 - 8/10/2009 -(fired) Mike Forde - currently under indictment for Racketeering and Bribery
  • 1997 - 2000 - Under UBC International trusteeship
  • 1991-1996 - Frederick Devine - Removed from office and later charged and convicted of embezzling union funds.
  • 1986-1991- Paschal McGuinness - Banned from holding office in NYC due to RICO Consent Decree.
  • 1982-1986 - Under UBC International trusteeship.
  • 1978-1982 - Teddy Maritas - Disappeared from the Throgs Neck Bridge, and never found.

Related Items:


If you can stomach more:

Rank and File says what Spencer won't: Boot Thomassen

GOV. PATERSON'S newly picked head of the state Democratic Party yesterday forcefully demanded that embattled Sen. Hiram Monserrate resign immediately from the Senate or be ousted.
Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, in some of the strongest language yet heard in the wake of Monserrate's conviction for assaulting his girlfriend, told The Post that if his party is to stand for anything, it must force the Queens lawmaker out.
"Public opinion understands what he did was tremendously wrong," said Jacobs, who was installed at Paterson's direction as state chairman earlier this month.
"The court had its opinion, but we all know what this was, and, frankly, it doesn't represent the Democratic Party, and I think the best thing he can do for everyone is to resign," continued Jacobs, who is also the Nassau County Democratic Party boss.
"He absolutely should be ousted if he doesn't resign because the Democratic Party has to stand for something. If the party doesn't stand for anything, then what is it about?
"I am very adamant that this party has to stand for something, and it's at moments like these that we either demonstrate that we live by our principles or recognize that they're just good marketable tools.
"And I don't believe in the latter. We have to mean what we say."
Jacobs' strong stand puts him on a potential collision course with Paterson, who has repeatedly refused to take a stand since Monserrate's conviction last Thursday.
"The governor doesn't want to get involved in the legislative process," spokesman Peter Kauffmann said when asked if the governor favored Monserrate's resignation or ouster.
"He believes it's up to the Senate Ethics Committee."
A powerful Democratic official, however, asked, "How can Paterson do that when he put Jacobs in office?
"Either he supports his state Democratic chairman or he doesn't."
Jacobs' comments came in the wake of Friday's call by five Democratic senators and Queens Democratic Chairman and US Rep. Joseph Crowley for Monserrate to resign or be ousted.
That call came on top of an announcement by Senate Republicans that they would demand Monserrate's removal from office.
The GOP would need just two Democratic votes to approve an ouster resolution, but Monserrate has already pledged to challenge such a move in court.
Senate Democratic insiders, meanwhile, said there were growing "racial tensions" among the already racially divided Democrats, who have been split into four factions since the failed June Republican coup attempt that initially saw Monserrate and Sen. Pedro Espada of The Bronx side with the GOP.
"It's already a terribly divided [Democratic] Conference, and the Monserrate situation is making it worse, with five white members calling for his ouster and the Latino and black ones either backing him or remaining silent," said one of the state's best-known Democrats.
"The situation virtually guarantees more months of tension and dysfunction in the Senate."
Monserrate was acquitted in a non-jury trial on two felony charges in connection with the broken-glass assault on girlfriend Karla Giraldo but was convicted of a misdemeanor assault, which could send him to jail for one year.
A felony conviction would have led to Monserrate's immediate ouster from the Senate.


Daniel J. Franco 917-226-3447 Phil Newkirk email address he spoke fist do u have what he said?

Correct me where I am misinformed. Please fill in incomplete information.
There was the good, the bad, and the ugly;

The Good: (Reported by Frank Spencer and New Accountant)

1. New accountant did find major irregularities, will be chucked up to mistakes (not corruption) and accountant made 15 recommendations. (I can’t remember everything; someone can fill us in with what they are)

2. Mandatory drug testing for all NYCDCC employees, Labor Management, and Fund Trustees.

3. As well as background checks. Assuming anyone with a felony conviction can’t work for the NYCDCC. This needs to be verified.

4. Rotation of BAs in a quarterly basis. We need to know what that means.

5. Organizers team up with BAs to do “sweeps” of non-union jobs. Great! But what are their goals, what do they accomplish? We need more information on this initiative.

6. The tag team will also go to union jobs to check Ids and do a Headcount.

7. Anti-Corruption will do “target sweeps” as well as audits of locals. We need more information on this initiative.

8. New accounting measures for:

• CASH: must be in FDIC accounts as required by law
• NYCDCC Autos

9. NYCDCC employees have signed affidavits that they will not help anyone bypass the OWL. Violation will result in immediate removal of office. This needs to be verified.

10. Five new Rules for OWL. (Can’t remember what they were, someone can fill in)


The Bad: (Reported by Phil Newkirk a UBC gentleman & new accountant)

1. System Oversight & Accountability problems found

2. Unitel (Independent Investigator Callaghan Anti-Corruption Firm) has been found to be nowhere as efficient as Walter Mack. Yes, they did notice! It was said that Unitel needs to be more thorough.

3. We have a Director of Operations. This person is in charged of all BAs and organizers. He is the conductor to the NYCDCC orchestra. I don’t know who that is, I’m assuming it is Ed McWilliams, needs verification.

4. This position needs to be “hands-on”, but wasn’t under Forde. Made mistakes, for example, BAs or BMs are required to turn in daily work reports. Some turn them in while others didn’t bother, no word on the identity of the offenders were.

5. This model of oversight is not adequate and prone to corruption.

6. Business Managers (BM) are subjected to political influence, needs to change.

7. Car irregularities, Cars being leased by Locals and NYCDCC causing liability problems.

This example was given:
• “Unknown” to the Director of Operations, there was a BA from local 608 who had his license suspended when he was stopped and refused a Breathalyzer test back in early 2009. The BM at the time was aware of the situation and said BA was allowed to operate a Local lease car to do his job. This was discovered in early September and said BA was suspended.

8. Can someone do a better job explaining the problem with the cars? Beyond misused and abused, there are financial problems with how we lease and insure our cars. Please explain.

9. Manipulation of Referral Requests. When a contractor “can’t” get the workers requested due to series of problems with the OWL (workers not showing up, not having the proper qualifications or skills, showing up late, showing up with no tools or the wrong tools). Contractors then call the BAs to complain and are asked to send the right people to the job so we “comply” with our CBA. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be a problem. But you can see how this is prone to corruption where our BAs can essentially serve as an agent to the contractors. There is NO place for that in any union!

10. The “reason” why Pete Thomassen asked for a new Independent Investigator was because Walter Mack’s fees were going up to $90,000/month from $25,000/month. If you consider the amount of relevant work being done by Mack, I think we can agree that it was worth it.

Thomanssen appears to have had the financial interest of the members in mind. Do you believe him?

Unitel has been accused of being inadequate and currently costs the NYCDCC about $55,000/month according to the 2009 LM-2 form.

I got the impression at the hearing that this situation is being closely monitored by Spencer because of what appears to be a major Fuck-Up.

What a better way to get the Feds off our back than hiring an anti-corruption firm of their choice.

They fought extremely hard to keep Mack and to replace Callaghan.

11. 2009 LM-2 errors reported by NYCDCC.

• They possess only 1/3 deeds to properties reported
• Underreporting
• Fines (tickets) not taken out of offenders’ pay like its required/ not reported
• Cash mismanagement
• Did not report a $133,000 account/salary/ (needs verification)
• Unnecessary risk to members’ funds with an Amalgamated Bank account that exceeded the FDIC amount. (Careless and stupid)

12. Credit Card Misused discovered.

13. Liability Report as required by DOL to be reported on a weekly basis was being done once annually. (This statement needs verification)

14. Insurance needs to be put out to bid. I am assuming that it hadn’t been. Potentially costing NYCDCC more than it had to.

The Ugly:

  1. Why is Pete Thomassen the assistant supervisor? Members are angry at Unity Team and do not trust them. Beyond the possibility that they knew about Mike’s cocaine use, I hope that in light of these finding, Spencer realizes that he cannot move this union forward with a man who has been part of the problem.

In less than 2 months Spencer has discovered problems and implemented immediate changes. What has Thomanssen done in the last 9 years? This is a major source of mistrust and anger.

  1. Members testified what is considered a conflict of interest. BAs should not be allowed to be delegates. The delegate body is supposed to be an INDEPENDENT body that represents the members.

They are also ELECTED. This suggestion caused Mr. Draper to intervene because he doesn’t understand how a system where the regular joe can run for this office is seen as a source of corruption.

Maybe he didn’t hear about how Billy Davenport was beat up in one of these meetings. The truth is that Draper is correct. If we have the freedom to run and vote, why should we block BAs from running?

Its obvious that once elected, people who have been hired by the NYCDCC have to be loyal to suggestions of those who hired them.

But the problem is, we don’t have enough brothers and sisters running who are really independent of the NYCDCC. You can’t make people run if they are scared. But, if you haven’t worked in months, why be afraid? When delegate elections come around we need you (brothers and sisters) to run!

  1. Another potential conflict of interest: Stuart Grabois’s son Andrew Grabois works for the union’s law firm O'Dwyer & Bernstien.

Grabois is the Director to the Benefits Fund.

The benefits fund provide life insurance, health insurance, pension, retirement and vacation benefits to participating union members and their families; and trustees of the benefit funds include both union and contractor representatives.

These trustees rely on legal advice to conduct complicated issues addressed by the Fund.

The director essentially relies on a law firm that employs his son.

Also, we have a George Greco as a trustee as well as a Victor Greco at O'Dwyer & Bernstien.. Are they related?

There have been other family connections made, are they proper or legal?

We deserve to know what the hell is going on here!

But I have to tell you, this is old news. According to this document Andrew Grabois has worked at O’Dwyer at lease since 2005.

4. The hearing committee continuously referred to Frank Spencer as the source to “go to” with our ideas and concerns. Mr. Draper even suggested we go to his office and drop by. I think Spencer can do a better job of outreaching to the members with this in mind.

5. Testimony was given that non-union people called the OWL and actually got dispatched to a job. Testimony was given that union people are going to the Coalition to be place as union carpenters. And unlike the people sent out of the OWL, these “union coalition” people are hard to get rid of. I HOPE this is not true. We have problems; we don’t need this to be true.

6. The turnout was low. Don’t know what to make it out of it, would have loved to see more of the brothers there.

While there was legitimate reasons for not attending, but where were all the unemployed carpenters? There is no doubt that our union spirit has been destroyed. But I know if we can regain trust in the leadership, we can fight to make this predominately a union town again.

I was so impressed by the people who spoke. Many are angry, all of us are concern, and some are defeated. But the love for the union was the unifying factor. We had 50 year members to 2nd year apprentices. They were all brave because it was an intimating setting. We have people in this union who in positions of leadership could 100% represent the average carpenter.

7. The problem with term limits is that we need to have a consistent position when negotiating CBAs (collective bargaining agreements). If you have a different team every two year with drastic positions, that may hurt our union. What we need is a 10 year limit AND accountability. Why must we know everything after the fact. I’ll give you an example. PLAs:

• Most of us had no idea what they were or what was being discussed
• There was mass confusion as to what we were agreeing to and why
• Word came out that the contractors were requesting 30% reduction in cost because as they like to say, “Banks were not lending”.
• What projects were considered or how they even qualified or who approved such projects has never been clear
• All I know is that Greaney announced it at a local meeting much to the grunts of the crowd and he fought back by saying that it was that or nothing.
• That lack of transparency of how, what, and where should not be accepted. I know that people assume that we are a bunch of idiots who wouldn’t have the ability or the know how to negotiate a better deal for ourselves. That there is the problem, our leaders our so far remove for the guy on his tools that they have no respect to even inform us adequately.
• What the Carpenters union did was a BAILOUT to the owners and contractors. God forbid that due to circumstances out of our control they would lose money because of a bad investment. We were told that that was the best deal for us.
• Just like we have seen in Wall Street, how are these contractors fairing now with a better economy? When do these PLAs expire? What will happen then? Were there any other trade unions in NYC that gave concessions like we did?

Here are my thoughts for Spencer and Co.

1. Please form a committee to investigate the Blue Card Fiasco. Give us a dollar amount spent to what has turn out to be an unenforceable rule. Did the trustees act in good faith? How about their judgment of seeking legal advice AFTER they decided to withhold funds not legally theirs? Tell us what the rules are in regards to carpenters convicted of taking cash and how was a new blue card of authority was going to help the union in regards to cash takers? Tell us why they attempted to lie to us in regards to the first mailing and saying this was an attempt to update records? Was that legal?

2. Can you tell us how people become Trustees? What are the qualifications and do they get paid for such services? It wouldn’t kill you to make it well know who these people are. I know we get mailings with their names, but such vital information should be on your website.

3. Investigate family ties within the NYCDCC leadership and the companies they hire. Openings to all NYCDCC positions should be available on the website at the time they become available. Do you really need Jawin to tell you all the NYCDCC relatives of NYCDCC leadership? We’ll do it, but a simple question to your crew would be sufficed. Have you seen the NYCDCC during the summer or school breaks? It’s packed with kids getting paid to do nothing. The only family members working at the offices of the NYCDCC should be of those carpenters who are not employed by the NYCDCC.

4. See if we can get Walter Mack back. Unitel contract expires in 2010. It was well know that members trusted him and the bad guys hated him. He was good for our union. The idea that he was too expensive is a slap in our face when he see how our funds have been abused. Did the leadership exercise such frugalness when it came to hotels, restaurants, and golf outings? Thomassen we see right through you despite that carefully crafted tan!
5. Please form a committee to investigate the PLAs. It’s not assuring when the indicted trustee Joseph Olivieri congratulates the indicted union leader Forde on a job well done. Was the PLA a success? Was it good for our union? Was it done in good faith? Anytime we give up concessions set up in the legal CBA, the members need to better inform by the leadership.
(pages 1, 3, 9, & 22-23)

6. It would be nice if you can tell us on what NYCDCC employee raises are based on. The leadership has this attitude that they can run this union like a private corporation. SORRY, this is a union! Everything you do is with the money we have earned with our blood, sweat, and tears. Have a little of fucking discretion and respect with our money!
Finally, you can see that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have problems beyond the ones refereed above. It would be nice if we can get back to working on creating work hours, developing skilled workers, fighting the non-union, pressuring politicians to tackled tax cheats and employers of illegal workers, provide the safest and most efficient work force. We got work to do!!!!

Jawin carpenters, we need to do more than just complain. Send your thoughts and ideas to Frank Spencer at 395 Hudson. Whether we like it or not, he is the only hope of making immediate changes in our favor.

Lets not forget Andre Puerta (The organizer who got a $21,000 raise) is married to Brian Odwyer's niece....

BUT IT GETS EVER BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Her name is Kathlee Flannelly and she works in the benefit funds to......


She is Dan Ryan's assistant and soon to be assistant to the director of the funds "DAN RYAN".

We need to find out how much money they make.

Request this from Stuart Grabois he has to give it to you by law.
Ask for the detailed 5500 reports of the funds... If no luck contact US Department of Labor, Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS)

at 646-264-3190 or go to 201 Varrick Street room 878...
one block from 395 hudson.... ask for Ralph Gerchak.... can also file complaints there....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Judge Haight Hears from All Sides

Update 10/23: A larger courtroom has been secured for the hearing. The hearing will be held in Judge Duffy's courtroom 26A and begin at 10:30 a.m.

Federal District Judge Charles S. Haight has scheduled a hearing to be held on October 24, 2008. The Court will hear oral arguments on the issue of remedy for the contempt charge against the NYC District Council.

On February 20, 2007 after years of costly litigation, The District Council was found GUILTY OF CONTEMPT by the United States Court Of Appeals for violating provisions of the Consent Decree when they “bargained away the job referral rules” with the 2001 contract change.

Federal prosecutors have argued that changing the union's job referral system without government approval, will encourage more job site corruption by "cash" contractors.

Prosecutors say that the changes give construction contractors far more leeway to hire whichever carpenters they want, irrespective of length of unemployment. The old system generally required them first to hire the carpenters who had been unemployed the longest.

Prosecutors say corruption will be easier under the new system because contractors will have more power to pressure unemployed carpenters to do their bidding.

"Because contractors can handpick virtually 100 percent of the work force at a job site, carpenters are now beholden to contractors for job opportunities," the government wrote. "Carpenters who are at the mercy of employers for job assignments know that if they stand up for the enforcement of union rules or legal requirements or refuse to work off the books or for cash when asked by a contractor, they run the risk of being laid off."

Gary Rothman, the councils lawyer, defended the revamped system, saying it was part of a contract, signed in 2001, that is good for the city's carpenters.

Many rank-and-file carpenters say the current job referral system is unfair because it has left many of them unemployed for months at a time, while favored carpenters find steady work.

The hearing will be open to the public and begin at 10:30 a.m. in Room 6A, 500 Pearl Street. The Court will hear counsel in the following order:

10:30 a.m.
Government, 30 minutes
District Council, 30 minutes

11:30 a.m.
Building Contractors Association 15 minutes
Association of the Wall-Ceiling, 15 minutes
Carpentry Industry of N.Y., 15 minutes
Cement League, 15 minutes
General Contractors Association, 15 minutes

12:30 a.m.
Lunch Break, One hour

1:30 p.m.
General Contractors Association of N.Y., 15 minutes
Eugene Clark, 15 minutes

2:00 p.m.
Government, 30 minutes
District Council, 30 minutes

3:00 p.m.
All other parties, 10 minutes each, in same order as above

4:00 p.m.
Government – Final Submission, 15 minutes

Friday, October 17, 2008

Trades Council to Be Headed by a Teamster


Gary La Barbera, president of the New York City Central Labor Council and the top Teamsters official in the New York area, will replace Edward J. Malloy as president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, labor officials said on Thursday.

Because heading the building trades council is a full-time job, Mr. La Barbera will step down from his posts with the Teamsters and the Central Labor Council, those officials said. The trades council, which has worked closely with City Hall and the construction industry, represents more than 200,000 carpenters, plumbers, crane operators and other construction workers.

Mr. Malloy, a member of the steamfitters’ union who has headed the trades council since 1992, is retiring.

Jack Ahern, the top official of Local 30 of the operating engineers union and executive vice president of the Central Labor Council, is to succeed Mr. La Barbera in the nonpaying position of president of the council, which represents more than 1 million union members in the city.

Mr. La Barbera is president of Local 282 of the Teamsters, which represents most construction-industry truck drivers in greater New York. He also heads the Teamsters Joint Council, representing more than 100,000 teamsters in New York City and its suburbs.

Mr. Ahern and Mr. La Barbera, whose term as president of the Central Labor Council was scheduled to end in 2010, declined to comment because the labor council has not yet officially acted on the changes. Mr. Malloy also declined to comment.

In recent days, Mr. La Barbera has been one of the most outspoken labor leaders in favor of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to seek a third term without requiring a citywide referendum on term limits.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

End Seen to New York Building Boom

New York City’s long-running building boom will peak this year, before new office and residential projects peter out in the coming years and the number of construction jobs plummets 23 percent to 100,250 in 2010, according to a report released on Tuesday by the New York Building Congress.

The building congress, a trade group for construction and real estate companies, estimates that construction spending on new housing, office towers, stadiums, subway tunnels and schools will decline slightly in 2009 before falling to $26.2 billion in 2010, from $33.8 billion this year. But even that forecast may be a bit optimistic.

The report noted that construction has already begun on “the majority of the 15 office towers factored into the 2009 and 2010 estimates.” But at least one-third of those projects are already in doubt, given the flagging economy, turmoil on Wall Street and the virtual disappearance of construction financing for new projects.

Few if any real estate and construction executives believe that JPMorgan Chase will build a new tower downtown, at Greenwich and Cedar Streets, after buying Bear Stearns and its Midtown headquarters.

Vornado Realty Trust, one of the city’s biggest commercial landlords, has suspended its plan to build a 23-story, $435 million headquarters the Major League Baseball’s cable network, after it failed to secure additional tenants and financing. Vornado’s effort to build a 1.3 million square foot office tower over the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street is also “dormant,” a company executive conceded.

“This is such an uncertain situation that it is almost impossible to say with confidence what the forecast for the construction market will be over the next several years,” said Richard T. Anderson, the building congress’s president. “That’s why we posed two scenarios.”

In the first instance, said Mr. Anderson, who delivered the report to a somber crowd of construction and real estate executives at the Hilton Hotel, the downturn is short-lived as the federal government steps in to ease the credit crunch, preserving thousands of jobs and projects.

But a more gloomy situation, he said, involves a prolonged downturn, with private projects coming to a standstill, while government slashes funding for mass transit projects, new schools and infrastructure. Currently, capital spending by city, state and federal governments accounts for about half of all construction activity in the city.

“You’ve just got to be optimistic,” Kenneth J. Knuckles, chief executive of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, whispered to the executive next to him during the presentation.

The warning signs, however, are everywhere. Unemployment is inching upward, and commercial landlords are nervously gauging the impact of the continuing consolidation of the city’s all-important financial industry.

Vacant space in the city’s office towers is no longer hard to find. In Midtown alone, more than 20.9 million square feet of space is available, according to the latest report by Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate broker. The availability rate — the amount of space vacant or available — rose to 10.2 percent in September, up from 8.2 percent a year ago.

Housing construction is also expected to slow drastically, after a spectacular four years in which new apartments, mostly condominiums, were built in virtually every neighborhood in the city. The boom was fueled by a growing demand for housing and the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to rezone areas like Williamsburg and the Far West Side of Manhattan for high-rise construction.

The report estimated that 35,700 housing units would be built this year, up from 31,900 last year. But by 2010, that number is expected to plunge to 18,500.

The report confirms that construction and real estate activity tends to be a lagging indicator of economic health. Projects that got under way in the last two years are going forward despite a flagging economy. But experts say that new projects are being delayed.

“The thing that’s reassuring is how much work is under way,” Mr. Anderson said. “This is a very large construction market.”

Even if construction spending falls to $26.2 billion in 2010, from an estimated $33.8 billion this year, that is still a considerable sum, he said.

The Goldman Sachs headquarters near ground zero is nearing completion, as is a tower at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and a smaller tower at 510 Madison Avenue in Midtown. The steel for the so-called Freedom Tower at ground zero is rising above street level, and uptown, Boston Properties says it will move forward with its proposed office tower at 55th Street and Eighth Avenue.

The big question, Mr. Anderson said, is whether the city and state will continue their commitment to capital spending on subway expansions, schools and other projects, or be forced to slash their budgets as tax revenues from Wall Street and real estate fall sharply.

The Bloomberg administration has already stretched out its four-year capital budget to five years. But Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, told construction executives on Tuesday that the Bloomberg administration would continue to maintain important city services and build for the future, with the redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens and the development of a large-scale affordable housing project at Hunters Point South, on the East River waterfront.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On Par files $100 million dollar lawsuit against NYCDC

Here it is for your reading pleasure; by request I am re-posting the On Par lawsuit (read below)

On Par Contracting has filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against the NYC District Council of Carpenters on April 2, 2008 alleging among other things that the District Council has allowed its officers to utilize a corrupt scheme whereby preferential treatment was given to certain companies in exchange for secret payoffs and knowingly permitted its officers to participate in a conspiracy to manipulate and corrupt the job referral system.