The NYC District Council of Carpenters will be holding hearings for members of the NYC District Council of Carpenters on October 15th and October 16th at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Cue-balls At The District Council
IF it wasn't so tragic, it would be absolutely hilarious. Informed sources at the council are reporting two councils employees, John Thomassen and James O'Reily have shaved off the hair on their heads and removed all the hair from their bodies in order to avoid detection of drug use.
John Thomassen, who is the son of Peter Thomassen, the former district council president and current assistant supervisor, is alleged to have admitted to drug use after a drug test was ordered. It is not clear if the two men have been suspended or fired.
Since the arrest of Mike Forde and revelations of corruption and drug use, the district council has been placed under "emergency supervision." Vice President Frank Spencer, who has assumed supervision over the district council ordered drug testing for council employees.
"I find the whole situation disturbing and disheartening to learn about the shaving of heads" a carpenter said speaking on the condition of anonymity, "What the hell is going on at our council, we are completely in the dark."
Hair examination to detect drug abuse is fairly accurate and, in most cases, can trace banned agents that have been used up to a year.
There are no updates or information about this on the councils website.
Spencer who assumed supervision on August 10, said he "will keep the membership updated on a regular basis."
Since the posting of letters by McCarron and Spencer on the councils website, there has not been any "regular" updates on the supervision.
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Friday, September 18, 2009
Unity Team - One Down, Two To Go...
Pictured far right, a smirking Peter Thomassen along with Dennis Sheil, is what's left of disgraced Mike Fordes "Unity Team."
Fordes two handpicked yes-men shown marching in Saturdays September 12, Labor Day Parade have yet to officially comment about the revelations of corruption and arrest of Mike Forde.
Carpenters all around town are wondering why Thomassen and Sheil have not been fired.
It has been well documented by Independent Investigator, Walter Mack that the district council officers "engaged in, at least, willful ignorance" of the corrupt conduct by companies like Tri-Built and On Par, which are believed to be two of the six unnamed contractors in the indictment and were notorious among carpenters as "cash" companies, yet permitted to work corrupt for years.
Thomassen, never once informed the delegate body or membership about the revelations of corruption that Mack discovered and reported on (Boom, Tri-Built, On Par, Special Request, among others) taking place at the district council.
"I am absolutely shocked, we didn't even know there were reports from Mack," a former delegate who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation said.
Almost all the carpenters I have spoken with on the condition of anonymity agreed, Thomassen and Sheil "betrayed" the carpenters, have no "integrity" and were Forde's "biggest enablers and defenders" of the council's “culture of corruption."
Carpenters were also complaining about being kept in the dark, "it's ridiculous, it's been over a month and we still don't know what's going on". Where is the "outrage from our so-called leaders."
Echoing the same sentiment was an anonymous local 608 apprentice who attended his union meeting and posted, "What I was shock by was how short and unimportant the meeting was. You would think that there would be questions, comments, something!!! Especially since the person that led the last meeting was accused of some serious violations. Perhaps maybe cause our ex EST is in rehab and accused of some even worse shit."
Disgraced corrupt former carpenter boss Mike Forde, along with nine others were 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.
UBC General President Douglas McCarron fired Forde, local 608 business manager, John Greaney and local 608 business agent, Brian Hayes, on August 13, and ordered an “emergency supervision” of the district council and appointed Vice President Frank Spencer, supervisor.
In a letter to the membership supervision Spencer wrote he will keep the membership "updated on a regular basis", whatever that means. Since the posting of letters by McCarron and Spencer on the councils website, there has not been any "regular" updates.
An informed source at the council told me Spencer is "completely clueless to the extent of the corruption."
Federal authorities say that the district council investigation is continuing.
Forde and nine others pleaded not guilty following a lengthy federal and city joint probe. If convicted Forde faces up to 50 years in prison.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Brothers and Sisters the truth is we are really being misled and not being told the truth about our pension fund. We should demand a Full Independent Investigation and a Full Independent Accounting reported to the membership.
In 2003 The Unity Team DECEIVED you and took $1 dollar an hour out of YOUR pocket and put it into a creation they call "a supplement pension fund" that has cost you over $11 thousand dollars in lost wages, money that could have been better used to assist your families as you struggle to pay for rising fuel and food prices!
The supplemental pension fund should be eliminated and either the $1 dollar an hour is credited to the real “pension fund” or returned back to the membership's pocket!
History Lesson 101
In June of 2003, Unity Team President Peter Thomassen addressed the delegate body on the status of our benefit funds. He 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 the pension fund."
Thomassen also stated “this reallocation of $1 per hour from the welfare fund to the 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.”
He also stated that the $1 per hour increase into the pension fund “will not increase the pension fund pay-out to members."
The $1.00 will be put into a "Supplemental Pension Fund" 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 to July 2004:
The Unity Team now informs the delegate body the welfare fund surplus is all gone (because $1 was taken out in June 2003). The Unity Team recommends putting $1.00 per hour out of a $2.82 per hour carpenter raise received on July 1, 2004 into the welfare fund to increase funding.
It is at that point, what was said to be "temporary and seamless" to the members in 2003 has now become permanent and seamed in 2004!
Remember the Unity Team said in July of 2003, "the $1 per hour welfare fund surplus that was moved out of the welfare fund and into the supplemental pension fund is temporary and seamless to the members, and we will move the $1 per hour back to the welfare fund should it become necessary."
The $1 dollar an hour supplemental pension benefit is now taken out of your pocket with the pay raise on July 1, 2004, and is costing you thousands of dollars per year in lost wages without any pension benefit!
Question: Why wasn't the $1 per hour moved back to the welfare fund "should it become necessary", as was promised in June of 2003?
Fast forward to April 2005:
Unity Team President Peter Thomassen says “that our pension fund is doing okay and the fund had double digits returns on its investments.”
He also said carpenters hours last year total about 16 million and that although the $1.00 per hour in the “supplemental pension fund” helps ($1 x 16M hours = $16M) it’s “really insignificant when you’re talking about a 1 billion dollar fund.”
Question: If the pension fund is doing “OKAY” in 2005, why was the pension benefit CUT 26 PERCENT in 2006?
Question: If the $1.00 per hour in the “supplemental pension fund” is "really insignificant when you’re talking about a 1 billion dollar fund," why is it still in the supplemental pension fund and not returned to the member's pocket, where it belongs?
This is why you cannot trust anything The Unity Team says!
FROM: FRANK SPENCER, SUPERVISOR
It has been reported that District Council employees and/or shop stewards have distributed literature at District Council sanctioned and supported picket lines and on job sites advertising a fundraiser for two former Council employees. Be advised this fundraiser is not a District Council sanctioned or supported event.
Greany Hayes Defense Fund
Friday, September 11, 2009
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 157 “emergency supervision”, where among other things you refused to answer membership questions (see video) which were emailed and posted on local157.blogspot.com, 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 local157.blogspot.com 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
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
An Anonymous apprentice from Local 608 commented on update frank spencer finally speaks out: on September 5, I thought his comment deserves a more prominent post.
In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Overwhelming evidence is not enough to assume guilt. I will wait (and wait) for that Day of Judgment to reserve my opinion on Forde, Greaney, and Hayes.
But make no mistake.... all their "good" work went to shit when NO ONE stood up to Forde about his severe coke issue. How could they? When they are doing it themselves. 608 leadership has severe character and moral flaws. I mean they exemplify what a good all boys club is all about. They act like a bunch of frat boys in their 40's, 50's, and 60's. It’s disgusting!
All them boys knew how fucked Forde was; you don't have to be a drug expert to know he was high as kite all the time. How events had to revolved around his condition. Greaney and Hayes at best might have been great "union men", but their greed to stay in positions of power made them turn the other way.
I being an apprentice look at all the B.A.s sitting high and mighty (except for Martin...he was nervous as hell) and I know that some are simply dirty rats that haven't been caught yet. In my short time in this union, I have gone from a supporter to a doubter to a cynic. I know why people sway away from the spirit of the union and then only care about themselves. The union hurts when the leadership is selfish, greedy, uneducated, power hungry, abusive, and unchanging.
Why should anyone expect anything different from the membership?
I didn't care that Greaney and Hayes where at the meeting, like I said before; they are innocent until proven guilty. I wasn't surprise by the amount of ass kissing, seems like 608 members have perfected that skill. However, what I was shock by was how short and unimportant the meeting was. You would think that there would be questions, comments, something!!! Especially since the person that led the last meeting was accused of some serious violations. Perhaps maybe cause our ex EST is in rehab and accused of some even worse shit.
Not one single question from a pack gym. Not a single sack of balls in that room. I question staying in this local. I'm just sick of the antics, culture, structure, leadership, drunkies, druggies, and (above all) fellow members. I think I'll transfer my dues to another drama club...you know, change of scenery.
At least we got a t-shirt out of it!! The shirt says in huge white letters, “Proud to be Union”… after another scandal. Ironic!
What I advocate is that anyone who participated or knew that Forde had a huge drug problem; and never objected or brought up concerns about how that would affect his decisions in the union….they should be fired! Because they did not do what was in the interest of the union and its members.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Labor Day is different from the other holidays of the year. Most holidays are to some degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation or another. Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead; no sect, race or nation. - Samuel Gompers
Peter J. McGuire, a young carpenter, stood before the New York Central Labor Union on May 12, 1882, to suggest an idea of setting aside one day a year to honor labor. His idea was simple. The day should "be celebrated by a street parade which would publicly show the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations."
The trade unionists, enthusiastic about the idea, quickly established a committee to plan the event. The committee chose the first Monday in September because, "it would come at the most pleasant season of the year, nearly midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving and would fill a wide gap in the chronology of legal holidays."
McGuire was born into a poor family on July 6, 1852 in a lower east side tenement in New York City. His working career began at the age of 13. He held many different jobs and was quoted as saying,"I have been everything but a sword swallower... and sometimes I was so hungry, a sword--with mustard, of course--would have tasted fine."
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I finally received my letters in the mail today from General President Douglas McCarron and Vice President Frank Spencer explaining the "emergency situation", the "profoundly disturbing" charges of corruption and reported "drug use" that exist at the NYC District Council.
Its been 27 days since the arrest of Mike Forde and others and the majority of the membership is still completely in the dark about what is going on with the imposed "emergency supervision".
Here's something I find amusing, Mr. Spencer ends his letter saying "I have every confidence in the members of this council, and I believe that we can work together to build the kind of operation you deserve and a union of which you can be proud of".
The picture to the right is a snapshot of the district councils website after you click the link "contact us", showing a message "Under Construction"... Are you feeling proud yet?