Friday, June 25, 2010

Two Carpenter critics vindicated -- McCarron moves to trustee Empire State Council

Submitted by mnadmin 

For at least five years, two members of Carpenters Local 370 in New York have been writing to their international president, Douglas McCarron, warning him of all kinds of problems at the Carpenters' Empire State Regional Council, but nothing happened. Then suddenly on March 10, Patrick Morin, the council Executive Secretary Treasurer, got the bad news. McCarron was scheduling two days of hearings on charges that could lead to an international trusteeship over the council. The trusteeship move was triggered by news that Empire Carpenter funds for pensions, annuities, and welfare had lost an estimated total of $160,000,000, down the drain with Bernie Madoff's ponzi fraud. The council Executive Secretary Treasurer [EST] appoints all the union trustees to the funds; he bears a special responsibility.

Now that the massive loss has impelled McCarron to act, he has thrown into the pot a whole goulash of charges against the council. It seems as though he may have reread some of that five-year correspondence from Richard Dorrough and John Newell, those two Local 370 Carpenters. He accuses the council of not keeping members and contractors informed, of failing to organize. He charges the EST with hiring, suspending, and promoting staffers without approval of the executive council; of filling vacancies on the executive committee instead of running elections.

McCarron accuses the council and the EST of improperly denying upstate union members of representation on the funds' board of trustees. That charge points to the double financial victimization of those upstaters. Buried within the Madoff-related fraud, it appears, is a cynical manipulation. Earlier, the Upstate New York Carpenters Council had been merged, along with its benefit funds, into the Westchester County-based Empire State Regional Council; the combined funds continued to be dominated by trustees appointed by Empire State's EST. The trustees somehow allocated the financial pain inflicted by the Madoff disaster so that it penalized mostly the upstate members. One member of upstate Local 747 tells us that at least half of his $150,000 pension and annuity fund money has disappeared. James Brady, chairman of the Local 747 retirees' chapter, will lead a busload of Local 747 members to the trustee hearings to ask for some measure of restitution.

On the scene comes McCarron as the stern enforcer of propriety against irresponsible malefactors. But he shares part of the blame. He set up the Empire State Regional Council, along with others, as part of his plan to reorganize the Carpenters union. Locals were merged into councils where they lost their autonomy and all control over collective bargaining. The reigning executive secretary treasurer was elected by delegates from locals. But from then on, no one could hold any paid staff position unless selected by the EST. Delegates who elected the EST depended upon him/her for a job. Locals could hire clericals but they were forbidden to pay any staffers, not even their own elected officers or attorneys. Under those conditions, the EST becomes a despot subject only to the international president. In this case, McCarron must use the authority he possesses as international president to try to undo the mess inflicted by the arbitrary regional authority that he himself had created.

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