Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Union Big Resigns Amid Spending Scandal While Workers Struggle

BY Alison Gendar and Brian Kates

Pete Thomassen the head of the scandal-scarred carpenters union has resigned amid revelations of massive spending on steak dinners, junkets and parties.

The wild bills - like $13,000 for a single meal at a Manhattan restaurant - came to light while half the union's leadership is under indictment and the feds are pushing to break the mob's grip on the organization.

The District Council of Carpenters denied Peter Thomassen's resignation as president had anything to do with the eye-popping sums in the union's 2009 annual report.

Spending under his leadership has long outraged the rank-and-file, many of whom are struggling for work while brass are dining at the Old Homestead steakhouse in the Meatpacking District. "The big spending under Pete Thomassen is yet another example of the culture of corruption at the top of the District Council," said a dissident blogger who asked not to be named. "These guys are living it up with the members' money."

The annual report filed with the Labor Department offers little explanation of the expenditures, including how many people attended staff meetings, dinners and conferences. Many of the expenses are described as "non-itemized."

It's also unclear whether Thomassen attended, although he did sign off on the report covering union activities between June 2008 and June 2009.

In a single day - Jan. 5, 2009 - union brass dropped $20,683 at a conference in the Beverly Hills Hilton and an additional $9,692 on a staff meeting at the Old Homestead.

On May 28, there was a $13,545 tab at Valbella, a pricey eatery in the Meatpacking District.

On the lower end of the food chain, union bigwigs okayed $19,854 in meals at the SoHo deli Getting Hungry and paid $8,474 to the Liberty Cafe in midtown last year.

Then there are the out-of-state confabs: a $13,592 stay at an Atlanta Holiday Inn in June 2008 and a $9,552 stay at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.

The union paid J.C. Fogarty's Town Tavern, a Bronxville, Westchester County, catering hall, a whopping $60,509 in September 2008 for what's described as "charity softball tournament event." Owner John Fogarty did not return calls.

The union paid $7,315 for another charity softball event in September 2008 to Send in the Clowns Entertainment.

"They spent how much on Send in the Clowns?" quipped one unemployed carpenter. "I'm showing my age, but isn't the next line of that song - 'Don't worry, they're here?'"

Thomassen was paid $268,827 last year.

A District Council spokesman gave no explanation for his resignation but denied it was linked to a request last week for the appointment of an ex-prosecutor to monitor the union.

The union's executive secretary-treasurer, Michael Forde, and nine cohorts were indicted on racketeering charges last August.


  1. FROM DAILY NEWS READERSMay 12, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Poetic Justice
    7:25:26 AM
May 12, 2010
    There's no fidelity there. Union members work hard for their wages only to have these management crooks splurge as if they are princes. They give unions a bad name. They are working for their own selfish interests not for the majority as a whole.

    Two Cents Worth
    8:09:47 AM
May 12, 2010
    As long as the Union members were getting their inflated salaries and benefits from Unionized construction jobs the members could care less what the leaders were making or skimming from the top. Just like the mob the members knew that to do business in the city that payoffs had to be made and these payoffs were often high priced meals for those who had the ability to award contracts or decide what union member was on the jobsite. With the recession the members did not have as many jobs so they have a problem with leadership still feeding from the troth. The problem is that when you promote a laborer, that is used to the benefits of being a union member, to union leadership they feel that they now own the feeding troth.

    8:09:50 AM
May 12, 2010
    I have been a union man my whole working life. That being said the scumbags in power should be indicted for stealing the members dues, This guy resigned when the wild spending came to light, indict him anyway! It happened on his watch! The brothers must rid the executive board of these deal makers and elect a board that will look out for the members! And this is the best time to do it, a lot of guys are not working and are hungary!

    8:23:39 AM
May 12, 2010
    Put Thomassen in a cell with Espada. Parasite.

    9:28:52 AM
May 12, 2010
    AS a former union worker who then went into management I saw first hand how union leaders would sell out their workers in a heartbeat for their own benefit ;It was a disgusting period i my life that i had to get out of. I always believed in fair pay and benefits for a hard days work and to see workers constantly screwed by union leaders changed my views on unions and what they actually do for their members;they would be better off without the unions. JMPO

    9:57:52 AM
May 12, 2010
    Seems like one honest guy found the thievery. He should be made union president. Or at least the business agent.

    9:58:47 AM
May 12, 2010
    Why is this news? Unions of ALL stripes sponsor corruption. Teachers tamper with tests, cops pad over-time to boost pensions, LIRR retirees claim disability, MTA employees get paid full pay for p/t work (actual production), all firefighters with heart disease qualify for 3/4's (even with a family history of heart disease). The list goes on & on. We could write a book on Union abuses, and in the end, we all pay.

  2. FROM DAILY NEWS READERSMay 12, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    10:09:43 AM
May 12, 2010
    My entire family works for the union and my grandfather was head of the union for elevators a few years back. But guess what they are corrupt! All unions for that matter. The second you turned your back they were busy fishing for money, skimming off the top and blaming the other person. While he is working long hours to help secure better benefits for families the rest of the "elite" are stealing. There is always someone sticking their hand in someone else's pockets taking what they are not entitled to. The only person who has your best interest is yourself.

    10:38:08 AM
May 12, 2010
    Back breaking work for those guys-- and a slap in the face by their union leaders.

    11:37:22 AM
May 12, 2010
    I don't know what's up lately. but to tell you the truth I am scared for my future, my children's future, I barely get work and these guys are liven large. A few weeks ago I open my mailbox to find a dear john letter, saying that jeff is gone, he was using my money to buy luxuries for himself apparently, mike is out, he will be back he's a good guy, i usually stay out of the limelight i pay dues and never get involved maybe i should start. something needs to change or we won't have no pension-no future hey i barely have a present with these people guess i should have stayed in school, for dummies like me the union seemed like the best move- good wages healthcare where was i going to go mickey dees?

    1:38:54 PM
May 12, 2010
    You know what? The only time media talks about union and workers is when something bad happens. How many times you hear about the honesty, hard work and humility of the workers in the news media? It's great that you reported on the bad guys. But please balance it with reports about the good guys too. Otherwise, it's so hypocritical.

    1:40:57 PM
May 12, 2010
    These scoundrels are the first to send out their unemployed members to demonstrate and hurl abuse outside the homes and businesses of non-union people who are just trying to make a living. It is pathetic to see grown men and women ordered to behave like 2-year olds, blowing whistles and chanting false and vicious slogans against their fellow citizens - all on the direction of a bunch of crooks who have the nerve to demand that non-union businesses and workers "Do the right thing", meaning that they must join the union and destroy their competitiveness or leave the marketplace to the mercy of these thugs.

    herb L
    2:23:25 PM
May 12, 2010
    Retired carpenter from NYCDCC When will the bull**** stop with our leaders? Put the crooked ones in the slammer (for good) Hope the appointed leader is honest and cleans house. Lets get back to normal If this recession ends (hope soon) My prayer is for honest leadership God Bless our Carpenters Union

  3. Put them all in jail-take their houses,cars,boats & every thing they have & sell it. Fuck them all.

  4. I agree with Two Cents,   Most of you need to shut da F up as long as you worked. It was ok. Now that youse are Starving. Shopping in Bravo Instead of BJ's, C-town instead of Costco, Foodtown Instead of Fairway. There's a problem.  All we can do is wait and see.  All Leadership isn't  F Up

  5. The Non Union Sector is going to Benifit from this BS. You Brother are so cut throat that you feel as long as you work F the next Man. I remember when the average Jouneyman made 60, 000 all was good. It was when Company men cracked 100,000 and more is when things changed. Most of you brought Homes in Areas  you you Don't belong.  Living 101- Your Mortgage is suppose to be 18 percent of your Income. You Idiots make 100 Plus one year and run out and buy homes based on that. Now if you Make 70.000 that following year.  Do the Math that 18 percent becomes a bigger number.. If an Agent tells you can rent out any part of your home you can't aford it. some of you just found out what your Neighborhood is Like recently due to the lack of work and you fear losing everything.  quality of Life is not how much you can make and spend.   nuff said

  6. question..if a member beleives that he/she has certainly enough hours  to retire with medical benefits..but the union claims NO..You lost thismany for this ..and for not working this many days in a certain quarter etc...and despite asking for a sit down to prove has been denied who / where would one take this complaint /action for assisting to prove this ? I would greatly appreciate a response because my previous request for assistance did go un noticed and un resoponded to..probably becasue there is so much more going on ...but I'd like to try to sove this problem and I am sure there are many memebers out there with the same issue does anyone have a suggestion ???

  7. Mama, contact Stuart Grabois in the benefit department, he is the Director

  8. They all would pat you on the back with one hand and pick your pocket with the other.


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