Friday, July 23, 2010

Carpenters District Council of KC dissolves

By RANDOLPH HEASTER The Kansas City Star

The Carpenters District Council of Kansas City, a longtime fixture in local political matters and union issues, has dissolved, leaving most of its 14,000 members under the jurisdiction of the St. Louis Carpenters union.

The action occurred suddenly Tuesday under orders of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters in Washington, D.C., which oversees the carpenter district councils around the country.

The only reasons provided for dissolving the Kansas City district were to consolidate resources and provide more mobility for members and contractors to work in other parts of Missouri and Illinois.

In addition, the dissolution apparently results in the removal of Terry Davis as the Kansas City council’s executive secretary-treasurer. Davis has headed the local Carpenters council since 1992.

Davis could not be reached for comment.

Terry Nelson, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Carpenters’ District Council, now assumes that role in the Kansas City area, said Dave Wilson, assistant organizing director for the St. Louis council.

About 9,000 of the Carpenters union members in the Kansas City area, western Missouri and all of Kansas are now part of the St. Louis council, Wilson said.

The Kansas City district council also covered union members in western Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and parts of Wyoming. Those members will now be part of district councils in Minneapolis and Phoenix.

The St. Louis Carpenters’ council now has 27,000 members in Missouri, Kansas and southern Illinois.
The announcement stunned local labor leaders, who have watched the Carpenters district council expand and increase its political influence during Davis’ tenure.

Wilson, who had been part of the Kansas City council, said the merger would help the local union members and might “create more work opportunities.”

“It’s about creating a more effective use of our resources, administratively and out in the field,” he said. “Carpenters who are currently working and picking up a paycheck won’t be affected by this.”

Nevertheless, the district council’s sudden dissolution and Davis’ removal from authority had local labor leaders wondering about what internal conflicts led to this week’s developments.

The national Carpenters union has long had a history as a renegade group, breaking from the AFL-CIO in 2001. The union joined the dissident labor federation Change to Win in 2005, but ended up dropping out of that labor group as well two years ago.

Under Davis, the Carpenters District Council of Kansas City has had a similar reputation of not always being in lockstep with other area unions. Throughout the years, the Carpenters union often posted informational pickets with huge banners chastising a business for not hiring union carpenters on a project.

The local Carpenters union also has had its share of run-ins with other construction unions, which have accused the Carpenters District Council of trying to recruit their members, commonly called “raiding.” A squabble surfaced last year during the Arrowhead Stadium renovation project, when the Carpenters union posted a “No Contract” banner because it wanted to do work that had been assigned to the Sheet Metal Workers Local 2.

“Whether you agreed with Terry Davis or not, the Carpenters union under his leadership has been a major force in organized labor and politics in the Kansas City area and the Midwest,” said Louie Wright, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42. “It’s hard to imagine that his absence won’t affect that landscape to some degree.”

1 comment:

  1. if you were a friend, neighbor or relative of Terry Davis, you never worried about having a job. he took great care of his buddies. the rest of the members were not so lucky.


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