Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spencer Gives Up Contract Raise

Supervisor Frank Spencer has unilaterally decided to give up the $2.13 per hour carpenter contractual raise schedule for January 1, 2011.

The hourly contract raise was the last installment of the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement which expires June 30, 2011.

There was no advanced word given to the rank and file regarding the wage give back or any attempt by Spencer to get the consent of the rank and file.

"We believe this action will preserve carpenter member jobs and increase potential employment opportunities in the near future," Spencer wrote in a letter dated December 30, posted below.

Spencer did not present any specifics about what jobs would be "preserved" or how this contract give back will increase "potential employment."

Carpenters have previously criticized Spencer saying "he does not have the authority to unilaterally alter the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement that is in effect, and it is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act to do so."

“There’s a significant difference between negotiating in good faith, and issuing some kind of edict that may or may not be legal." 

On July 1, 2010 Spencer, at the urging of the contractors, enacted a 90 day wage freeze with neither the counsel nor consent of the membership. This wage sacrifice was based on a theory by contractors that a wage freeze would "spur new projects." That predication has been disproved, since our contractors could not provide any documentation to support that theory. 

Carpenters I spoke with on the condition of anonymity were stunned to learn of the wage give back, "It's outrageous, we have no input or voice in any decision that effect our livelihood and once again we have been kept in the dark."

2006 -2011 CBA

Union Meeting Handout

December Handout

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Court Order Denying Veto Challenge

This Decision & Order resolves three applications that challenge the determinations of court-appointed Review Officer Dennis M. Walsh to “veto” three individuals from their union positions.

The three applications include:
(1) an order to show cause application filed on September 27, 2010 by Paul Willoughby, Conductor of Local Union 157 and also a shop steward, which seeks to vacate the Notice of Veto issued by the RO on August 27, 2010.

(2) an order to show cause application filed on October 4, 2010 by John Holt, a business representative of the Union leadership body, which seeks to vacate the Notice of Veto issued by Walsh on September 3, 2010.

(3) an “appeal” filed on October 14, 2010 by John Daly, President of Local Union 608 and a business representative of the District Council (“Daly”), which seeks to vacate the Notice of Veto issued by Walsh on September 7, 2010

The thrust of the actions taken by the RO was to remove Willoughby from his positions as Conductor of Local 157 and shop steward; to remove Holt from his position as a business representative of the District Council; and to remove Daly from his positions as President of Local Union 608 and a business representative of the District Council, following the RO’s determination that Willoughby, Holt, and Daly each violated the Stipulation and Order between the United States (“Government”), the District Council, and the Board of Trustees of the pension plans and welfare funds established to benefit the Union (“Benefit Funds”), entered into on June 2, 2010.

The Court finds that Walsh acted within the scope of his authority; that he afforded Willoughby, Holt, and Daly ample process; and that his determinations were based upon substantial evidence and were not arbitrary or capricious.

For the reasons outlined below, the respective orders to show cause brought by Willoughby and Holt and the appeal brought by Daly are denied.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This is a joyous time of the year, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

During this blessed season, please take more than a moment to remember and be grateful for the enormous sacrifices made by brave American service members to protect our freedoms and defend our way of life.

The members of our all-volunteer force serving in Afghanistan or Iraq will most likely spend the holidays in a heavily fortified camp or on patrol looking for and expecting the worst -- doing their job away from their spouses, children, parents and friends.

Christmas is a season of generosity and giving, a great way to show your support for our troops is to get involved or make a contribution to the many fine organizations -- the Fisher House, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Mend, USO, the Wounded Warrior Project or the Veterans Healing Initiative -- that work so hard to ensure our brave men and women in uniform and their families receive our gratitude, love and respect.

I wish you and your family a joyous Christmas and blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Local Union 157's Office is Relocating as of January 9, 2011

The Local Union 157 office is relocating to 395 Hudson Street, 8th Floor, New York, New York 10014 

All correspondence and dues should be mailed to the new Local Union 157 office starting immediately.
As of January 9, 2011, dues and inquiries can be made in person at the new location. 

The former Local Union 608 office in the Bronx is closed and the former Local Union 608 Manhattan office located at 505 Eighth Avenue will be closed as of January 31, 2011. 

A postcard mailing will be sent in the near future with a 2011 meeting schedule.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Carpentry among industries that aren't rebounding after recession

By Peter Whoriskey

IN LAS VEGAS -- Every day in this desert city, the carpenters climb into their pickups and vans, resumes stacked on the passenger seats, driving first to the union hall, then in circles from one chain-linked construction site to another, asking for work.

For a year or more, it has been the same.


If they keep pursuing work as carpenters, in fact, many of them may never find a job.

In past recessions, it has been an article of faith that as the economy revives, the work will return. But after the profound recession that began in December 2007, jobs in some industries aren't coming back.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Union steward gets five years for racketeering


Disgraced carpenter’s union shop steward Michael Brennan was slammed with a five years prison sentence today, despite his shaky-voiced apology to a judge.

“I will strive through acts of contrition to help those less fortunate,” Brennan, 54, the former shop steward of the carpenters union Local 608, groveled to Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero today. “I beg for forgiveness. I stand before you a broken man.”

Brennan, who must surrender to U.S. Marshalls on Feb. 7, has admitted to racketeering after he was accused of embezzling union funds, taking bribes to let contractors hire illegal aliens, and destroying documents as investigators closed in. In addition to his prison time he must pay back $100,000.

He was part of the larger racketeering and bribery scandal that led to the downfall of the coke-snorting ex-chief of District Council of Carpenters, Michael Forde, who has himself been sentenced to 11 years prison for heading a 15-year corruption scheme in which he pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors seeking to hire illegal aliens.

Local Union 157 Meeting and Christmas Party Canceled


The Local Union 157 meeting scheduled for December 20th has been postponed.

As a result of the dissolution of Local Union 608 the meeting location was changed to a larger venue to accommodate all members. Unfortunately, Our Lady of Pompeii Church has just informed us that they will no longer be able to host our meeting on Monday, December 20. At this time, we have no choice but to postpone the meeting until further notice. A mailing will be sent to all members in the near future with the date and location of our upcoming meeting. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and look forward to celebrating the New Year with all of our members.

Update: Due to safety concerns for the Church and our members the decision to postpone this meeting was made.  Police officers from the local precinct, District Council security, District Council representatives and church representatives evaluated the venue and deemed it inappropriate to hold the event.

Please direct all inquiries to Local 157 at 212.685.0567 or 212.643.1070 and please do not disturb the staff of Our Lady of Pompei

Thursday, December 16, 2010

1 World Trade Center Office Tower Reaches Halfway Point as Steel is Erected to 52nd Floor

Steel reaches 52nd floor.
NEW YORK, PRNewswire/ -- Steel at 1 World Trade Center (WTC) today reached the 52nd floor--more than 600 feet above street level--on what will be a 104-floor, 3.5-million-gross square foot commercial tower. At a height of 1,776 feet upon completion, the tower will be the tallest building in New York City and the United States.

Tishman Construction Corporation (TCC) is serving as construction manager on 1 WTC for the owner, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and was the builder of the original World Trade Center complex. TCC is part of AECOM Technology Corp. (NYSE: ACM), a Fortune 500 provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients around the world.

"As the builder of the original towers, our history and connection to the site makes us especially proud of the role we're playing at the World Trade Center today. We share in the excitement of the thousands of people who drive up and down the west side of Manhattan as 1 World Trade Center comes into view," said Daniel R. Tishman, Chief Executive and Chairman of Tishman Construction and Vice Chairman of AECOM. "Progress at the World Trade Center is undeniable, as demonstrated by the fact that we continue to add one floor a week to the structure. We salute the iron workers with DCM Erectors who have taken the structure to this level and all the trades men and women on the project."

With a workforce of more than 750 on site daily, workers have placed more than 125,000 cubic yards of concrete and 26,000 tons of steel at 1 WTC to date. More than 500,000 square feet have been built below grade, before the tower began to rise above street level. In the most visible sign of construction progress at the site, 1 WTC is now visible from parts of Midtown Manhattan and from several vantage points around downtown. The building is being designed and built to LEED Gold standards.

Tishman Construction is serving as construction manager for WTC Towers 3 and 4 for which Silverstein Properties is the developer; the WTC Transportation Hub; and the Vehicle Security Center at the site. In addition, Tishman built 7 World Trade Center, the first tower to rise after September 11, 2001. 7 WTC opened in 2006, and was the first office building to achieve LEED Gold Certification in New York.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Local Union 157 Meeting Location Has Changed

Local Union 157’s meeting scheduled on Monday, December 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm will be held at:
Our Lady of Pompei Church
Father Demo Hall 
25 Carmine St New York, NY 10014

There will be a Christmas Party after the meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions: How will the dissolution of Local 608 affect me?

Mob-scarred carpenters Local 608 shut down after racketeering convictions

Local 608 website stating the local has been dissolved.
 BY Brian Kates

The city's largest and most corrupt carpenters union local was permanently closed Tuesday in the wake of racketeering convictions and the firing of five presidents.

The International United Brotherhood of Carpenters dissolved crime-ridden Local 608, which controlled carpenters on Manhattan's West Side and the Bronx, and transferred its 7,400 members to rival East Side Local 157.

The move, which creates a union local with more than 11,000 members, will not affect carpenters' benefits, dues payments or work seniority, said District Council of Carpenters supervisor Frank Spencer.
President-elect McGonnigle

Founded in 1918, carpenters in Local 608 built virtually every high rise on the West Side skyline. But for decades, it was under the thumb of the mob and plagued with corruption.

It is the largest of 11 locals in the District Council of Carpenters, which has had a succession of federal anti-corruption monitors for the past 20 years.

This year, Local 608 president John Greaney and six business agents pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges. They were included in a sweeping federal indictment that saw District Council of Carpenters boss Michael Forde - a one-time Local 608 president - put behind bars for 11 years.

Greaney's last four replacements toppled amid allegations of financial skullduggery, rigging job referrals and other infractions.

The smaller Local 157 has had its fair share of corruption problems, too, and was placed under supervision of the international from 2007 to late 2008.

The timing of yesterday's action, just a week after Local 608 members elected new leaders, left many carpenters shaking their heads in disbelief.

"They went through the charade of appointing one [Local 608] president after another then waited until after the rank-and-file elected a reform ticket," said Local 157 member John Musumeci. "It doesn't make sense."

"The rank-and-file didn't have anything to say about this," said newly elected Local 608 president Tommy McGonnigle, who is now out of a job. "We didn't expect they'd pull the rug out from under our feet a week after we were elected."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”: UBC Tramples on Members Rights

Local 608 Dissolved and Merged into Local 157

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 a date Local 608 carpenters went to the polls and elected their own, President-elect rank and file carpenter, Tommy McGonnigle, and his Carpenters For Democracy Slate.

McGonnigle became the sixth president this year of the crime-racked local.

So we thought, seven days after the election, General President McCarron, dissolved the local and merged it into Local 157, one has to question why, why now?

Supervisor, Frank Spencer, could have been placed Local 608 under emergency supervision after former president John Greaney, and former trustee Brian Hayes, were indicted in August 2009 with Mike Forde.

Instead Martin Devereaux, vice-president, was named acting president to replace John Greaney.

The local could have been placed under emergency supervision after Joe Firth became president beating Deveraux in an election this past March.

Instead Devereaux was fired this past August, and Spencer went through four of Deveraux's successors, all axed for financial skulduggery, rigging job referrals and other infractions and still no action taken against the local.

So why the decision to dissolved the local now?

Was it because rank and file carpenters won the election?

In General President McCarron's letter to Spencer (below) he wrote, "Spencer and Phil Newkirk, Assistant to the General President, in a report, recommended that Local 608 be dissolved."  McCarron does not specify the date of this report.

The million dollar question is, if Spencer was recommending dissolving the local, why did he allow the local to conduct a shame election?

Fgs Dissolve Lu 608015_01

Djm Dissolve Lu 608014

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wal-Mart Seeks Deal With Unions to Open First New York City Store

Stepping up its efforts to enter the long-resistant New York City market, Wal-Mart is in advanced discussions with the city's politically powerful construction unions over a deal to construct new stores using unionized construction workers, who would in turn support the retailer's local entry, multiple people familiar with discussions said.

The talks with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York indicate a divide and conquer strategy for labor by the world's largest retailer, which has been ramping up a public and political push in an attempt to build its first stores in New York. While the giant retailer might use union laborers to build new stores here, it would still use a non-union retail workforce to staff them.

Wal-Mart's effort is still being fiercely resisted by unions that represent retail and grocery store workers, among others, who protest Wal-Mart's low wages. The plan will be the subject of a City Council hearing scheduled for January.

It's Official -- Americans Better Off Living On Welfare Than Earning A Middle Class Wage

Something is seriously wrong with our nation when the working poor have more disposable income than the middle class.

You can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can working $60,000 a-year, full-time, backing your back!

The chart tells the story. It is pretty much self-explanatory.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Union Bosses Forced to Drop $200,000 Lawsuit against Unemployed Carpenter

Union officials failed to find work for carpenter, then retaliated against him for working to support his family without paying tribute to union bosses

Chicago, IL (December 10, 2010) – Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (CRCC) union bosses have dropped a lawsuit against an unemployed carpenter for working to provide for himself and his family after union officials had no work for him.

After he lost his full-time job, Richard Crenshaw – who specializes in door carpentry – was hired by a friend who was a contractor. Up until then, Crenshaw was working as a handyman to make ends meet.

A CRCC union official discovered Crenshaw was working at his friend’s jobsite and union officials initiated internal disciplinary proceedings against him. The union hierarchy levied a fine of $201,250 and filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

CRCC union bosses dropped the lawsuit after attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation took up the case for Crenshaw providing free legal representation.

“It is unconscionable for union bosses to attempt to drive unemployed workers into the poorhouse in vicious retaliation for providing for their families,” said Patrick Semmens, Legal Information Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Confiscatory fines and kangaroo courts are just some of the disturbing, yet increasingly-used tactics of union boss intimidation that are all too common in states like Illinois where there is no Right to Work law on the books.”

Posted on The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Also see a blog by Michael A. Prate, "Is The Carpenters' Union in Chicago Corrupt." Articles/documents verifying statements at the end of this article. 

Cuomo Gains an Ally for a Looming Fight With the Public-Employee Unions

by Charles V. Bagli

Business and real estate executives intend to raise $10 million in the coming weeks in support of Governor-elect Andrew M. Cuomo’s looming showdown with government employees’ unions over wages and pensions.

Gary LaBarbera, has called for “a fiscally sane economy.”
And the business leaders, organizing as the Committee to Save New York, have found a surprising ally: one of the most powerful union officials in the state.

The official, Gary LaBarbera, is the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, a 100,000-member federation of electricians, iron workers and operating engineers who work on large building sites around the region.

Their trades have suffered 20 percent unemployment in the economic downturn, and the union argues that healthier state finances and lower taxes will spur development and construction work.

And while, on average, the construction workers earn more than their union brethren in the public sector, they have the rankling perception that government unions have not shared in their recent suffering.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

N.J. carpenters' unions business manager is sentenced for embezzling $85K

Shawn Clark (left), at the Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Courthouse
Kristine Snodgrass/For The Star-Ledger 

SOMERVILLE — The former business manager of a Somerville carpenters union was sentenced today to 28 months in prison for embezzling about $85,000 from the union through unauthorized use of its credit card, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Shawn Clark, 45, of Branchburg, was convicted in May of one count of conspiracy to embezzle and 14 counts of embezzling from Local 455 of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

Prosecutors at the trial presented evidence that Clark had spent $65,000 in seven years at go-go bars across the state, sometimes spending more than $1,000 in a single day, charging it all to an American Express account belonging to the union. Other improper charges to the card included office supplies, postage and restaurants, prosecutors said.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Leaders Elected To Crime-Ridden Local 608

Carpenters For Democracy Slate Winners, picture from left to right, Donny Arana, Gauntlett Holness, Gerry Gausman, Tommy McGonnigle.
President-elect rank and file carpenter, Tommy McGonnigle, and his slate of candidates won last nights special executive board election for Local 608.

McGonnigle running on the Carpenters For Democracy Slate, beat rival 608 Tea Party Slate, by about 75 votes out of approximately 900 votes counted.

He becomes the sixth president this year, and head of the city's biggest carpenters local.

Former president of the crime-racked local, Michael Murphy, was suspended without pay less than two months after taking office in September.

Four of Murphy's predecessors were axed this year for financial skulduggery, rigging job referrals and other infractions.

With 7,400 members, Local 608 is the largest of 11 locals in the New York City District Council of Carpenters and controls virtually all high-rise construction on Manhattan's West Side and in the Bronx.

McGonnigle and his new team of rank and file carpenters, promise to "end the years of corruption, institute democratic reforms and run the local solely for the benefit of the membership."

They better hit the ground running, because General President McCarron, informed the New York delegates at a meeting in Las Vegas in October that "he intends to take action against the local."

"McCarron said, Local 608 is a corrupt organization and will be dissolved" a carpenter commented.

The local carries a history of corruption ranging from bribery to Job Referral Rule violations to physical assaults against members, associations with gangsters, and the recent arrest and conviction of former president John Greaney and trustee Brian Hayes on a slew of charges related to corruption, racketeering, embezzlement, bribery and perjury.

On December 3, Federal court-appointed Review Officer Dennis Walsh issued his first Interim Report, among other things Walsh wrote, "Local 608 bleeds money, the monthly expenses of the local recently averaged $240,000 per month."

"The local has been imprudently managed for years, employing excessive numbers of office workers, leasing vastly excessive office space, hiring service providers and not questioning the cost."

The following are the new elected officers:
Tommy McGonnigle, President-elect
Gerry Gausman, Vice President-elect
Donny Arana, Recording Secretary-elect
Gauntlett Holness, Conductor-elect

Bowlmor Lanes Strikes Out With Carpenters Union

The New York City District Council of Carpenters dispatched its members to picket outside Bowlmor Lanes in Union Square for what they say are unfair labor standards by one of the alley's subcontractors.

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UNION SQUARE — Celebrity-haven Bowlmor Lanes has drawn the attention of the New York City District Council of Carpenters for what the union says are unfair labor practices.

Picketers from the union unrolled a "Shame on Bowlmor" banner across from the bowling alley at 116 University Place this week claiming one of Bowlmor's subcontractors, P. O'Connor Contracting, does not meet labor standards.

The union accused the firm of failing to provide or fully pay for family health care and pensions for all of its employees, according to a statement.

"In our opinion, the community ends up paying the tab for employee health care and low wages tend to lower general community standards, thereby encouraging crime and other social ills," the statement said.

A spokesman for Bowlmor Lanes said Tuesday that the business does not comment on labor disputes.

Bowlmor bills itself as the place "where the stars roll" and, over the years, celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore and Paris Hilton have bowled there.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Open Letter To Review Officer Dennis Walsh

I received the following letter in the mail today anonymously.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The First Interim Report Of The Review Officer

This report is a must read for all members. The report is riveting, there is no stone left unturned.

Review Officer, Dennis Walsh and his team has lifted the curtain and given us a glimpse into the secret world behind the doors of 395 Hudson Street.

The report with exhibits is 463 pages, Let me know if you experience problems loading the report and I will break it down. IPad users click the link to view report.
(IPad click here)  RO First Interim Report 12.03.10

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Construction businesses in New York City still mired by recession, says survey

BY Brian Kates

Work at construction projects across the city has been stymied by the recession, leaving some crews with little to do.
Despite hopeful signs for the economy, construction in the city remains stagnant, with 52% more stalled building projects this year than last, a survey shows.

Hard hit by tight credit, builders have stopped construction at 692 sites in the five boroughs, affecting thousands of jobs and putting a major dent in the city's economy, a New York Building Congress analysis reported yesterday.

Hardest hit is Brooklyn, where work on 319 projects - 46% of the citywide total - ground to a halt in October, the study shows.

But the crisis is citywide:
  •  Queens had 153 stalled projects, 22% of the city's total.
  •  Manhattan had 19% of the stymied projects, with 130 developments - double last year's average.
  •  Staten Island recorded 60 halted developments, three times more than 2009 and 9% of the total.
  •  The Bronx had 30, or 4% of the total.

"It is really quite disturbing," said Building Congress President Richard Anderson, "and it's not getting better."

Anderson said the crisis may affect as many as 12,000 housing units.