Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spencer Holds “Open Mic” Meeting To Hear Concerns of Membership Regarding Wage Freeze and Supervision

Carpenters filled the Auditorium to capacity at Spencer's “Open Mic” special meeting.
The Auditorium of the Manhattan Community College on Chambers Street was filled to overflow capacity at the September 3rd special meeting of the New York City District Council of Carpenters membership.

The meeting was called so every member affected by the wage freeze enacted on July 1, and the emergency supervision imposed on August 10, 2009 would have an opportunity to communicate directly with UBC Supervisor Frank Spencer and the new District Council leadership team regarding their concerns.

Every member, over 25,000, received a mailed notice of the meeting. Nearly 2,000 members were in attendance. Many spoke freely about their needs and the needs of their fellow members and their families who are experiencing great hardship due to the national economic downturn that has resulted in greater than 25% unemployment in the District Council.

Supervisor Frank Spencer opened the meeting precisely at 5 pm with a slide presentation created by FMI that highlighted the unemployment being experienced throughout the construction industry and in particular the carpentry contracting industry, as well as the encroachment of open shop competitors breaking in to all our markets.

Spencer told the members that our present agreement expires on June 31, 2011. He pointed out that under the present economic circumstances, of which we as a union and as an industry have little control, we "must fight to recapture our market share and our focus must be on the long term survival and growth of our Union.  Change will not happen overnight.  In order to succeed we must transform our thinking and act together."

"This situation calls for each and every one of us to act - to protect our future and the survival of our union. Business as usual is not good enough anymore. "

Spencer explained to the membership that we are all dependent upon our employers’ ability to sell whatever we agree to, as modifications to the present collective bargaining agreement, in the marketplace. “All of us and our families are dependent upon the employers’ customers wanting to purchase our services. We cannot out-price our services. “Presently the cost of an journeyman carpenter  is $82.90 per hour. This is without the statutory cost of insurances, workers compensation, disability, overhead and profit. The non-union competition is paying less than $25 per hour with no benefits. In order to compete we must not only be the best trained and best producers, we must also be the best at customer relations so that those who use our services want to use us again in the future,” stated Spencer.

He emphasized that the membership must recognize the difference between “needs and wants.” “In a different set of economic and market circumstances perhaps we could put a greater emphasis on our wants, but not during this go ‘round,” stated Spencer.

Member states his concerns regarding wage freeze
After the economic crash in the fall of 2008, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York constructed a “emergency project labor agreement.” It was designed to cut the cost of construction in New York City by 20%. The hope was that it would protect jobs that were already in progress from being halted and in a number of cases permit jobs that were in the final stage of planning and where ground was ready to be broken, to go forward. The banks restructuring of their lending criteria threatened many jobs from going forward.

Spencer pointed out that the emergency PLA’s have been successful at saving thousands of jobs within the Building and Construction trades and reminded the membership that when New York City District Council of Carpenters participates in a PLA that all the carpentry work is performed by Council carpenters.

Spencer then stated that "as discussions continue with your delegate body, local union officers and Employer Associations, it is "necessary to extend the raise hold until September 30th as we strive to find solutions to help us get through this challenging work environment."

Spencer also informed the members about the changes in Council leadership and the guilty pleas by former EST Michael Forde and his co-conspirators. "We intend to make every attempt possible to block the pensions going to the people who have pleaded guilty or have been implicated in serious wrongdoing."

He also stated that the Council will "demand the return of legal fees reimbursed" totaling $751,235 paid to Michael Forde and Martin Devereaux, in connection to their bribery case and indicated legal action will be taken if necessary.

He also informed the members about the numerous council representatives that have suddenly retired, resigned, been suspended and fired.

Supervisor Spencer then introduced new Director of Operations, Lawrence D'Errico, who assured the membership that their suggestions and concerns expressed had been noted and that every letter sent in has been read. He stated that the Council has made signincant structural changes and "he is looking forward to a brighter future for our union, stronger and more committed than ever before to represent our members fairly and honestly."

Upon completion of his remarks, Supervisor Spencer opened the floor for input from the membership. Any member who wished to speak was given all the mic time they required. No member was cut short in their remarks and in some cases members spoke more than once on issues that concerned them.

Of course this imaginary meeting never happened, but wouldn't it be nice if this meeting really did happen....Now that wouldn't be Business as Usual!


  1. john, that's some funny shit. you really had us in an uproar over this one. yeah if only the newly appointed leadership had any balls.
    that's,not going to happen.
    thanks for the good laugh.


  3. You got me John. Very funny!!!. Next time i'll read the whole thing before start making calls.

  4. It would have been better scenario, in the long run, to have Spencer encouraging the men to be principled and stand up for themselves and the rest of humanity by resisting the Wall St. rapists, rather than passively accepting the regurgitated rationale of concessions. Of course that would be real fiction.

  5. truth of the matter is ; the members don't have the ball's to speak up when giving a chance !

  6. WHAT THE FUCK????
    Was any of this dumb shit TRUE????
    What a waste of time.


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