Saturday, January 1, 2011

Open Letter To Local 157

Recording Secretary Mitch Sonntag (by fax)
Carpenters Local 157
395 Hudson Street 8th Fl
New York, NY 10014

Re: Memorandum in Support of a Resolution for Ratification of Collective Bargaining Agreements

Dear Recording Secretary Sonntag:

Throughout the world, members of unions routinely vote on collective bargaining agreements that control their workplace destiny, isn't it about time the Carpenters Union instituted the same reform.

There is nothing in the UBC constitution or bylaws regarding bargaining that prohibit members from being given the basic democratic right to ratify collective bargaining agreements.

Section 17 of the District Council By-laws gives "the Executive Committee the exclusive power and authority to negotiate, and the Delegate Body to consider and finally approve collective bargaining agreements."

Nothing prohibits the delegate body from waiving their right under Section 17 and presenting a proposed contract to the members to obtain ratification.

In addition, our Council is under emergency supervision. Vice President, Frank Spencer, pursuant to his authority as the duly-designated supervisor of the District Council is the only person empowered to oversee and conduct the affairs of the District Council which include negotiating a new contract.

The former executive committee and delegate body serves only as an advisory board, and has no authority to “negotiate consider and finally approve collective bargaining agreements."

Our current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire June 30, 2011. The power to negotiate new contracts should not be left in the hands of one person or an unelected committee.

It is vitally important to our future that we support and institute this basic democratic reform that gives the membership, who are the rightful stewards of this Union a voice in the affairs that effect their livelihood and future.

For too long, our “District Council has been a fiefdom for brutes, thieves, con men and other species of racketeers" who have enslaved, robbed our members, and corrupted any type of democratic reform.

In the winter 2010 issues of the Carpenter magazine, Supervisor Spencer stated, "we know that trust has been broken," and he expressed his desire to “regain the trust and restoring pride to this union.” He also expressed his commitment to “ensure that members’ interests are the priority of each and every employee working” at the Council.

The right to ratify our contracts has been one of the top priorities of the membership. Every election cycle we have seen various candidates promising that right, only to leave that promise unfulfilled once elected into office.

If we are to regain the trust of the membership the leadership must demonstrate they are committed to enacting basic democratic reforms that empower the membership.

If we are ever to see the day that our Council can be run effectively by elected officials, "flaws in the governance of the Council" must be corrected.

Having the rank and file ratify collective bargaining agreements would be one step in fixing those "flaws" and “improving and leading our Council to a brighter future.”

Based on the forgoing reasons, I respectfully ask the executive board to support and approve the following resolution for ratification of collective bargaining agreements by the rank and file which is imperative to our future.


WHEREAS, the UBC grew strong and prospered based on the shared wisdom of no single person or committee, but of all the members who voted on their officers, by-laws, dues, expenditure of funds, collective bargaining agreements and all other issues affecting their union, their funds and their livelihood; and

WHEREAS, the membership of Carpenters Local Union 157 calls for the Adoption of a By-law change requiring that all Collective Bargaining Agreements prior to any signing and or settlement must first be submitted to the membership with sufficient time for review, explained, discussed, debated and ratified by the membership before enacted.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Union be returned to the rank and file membership who are its rightful stewards and entitled to participate in all matters that effect them.

By the adoption of this resolution and the restoration of the members "inalienable rights" the PRIDE, SPIRIT, DEDICATION and PARTICIPATION in and to THEIR UNION will also be restored!

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation and understanding regarding this matter.


John Musumeci

cc: Review Officer, Dennis Walsh
UBC Supervisor, Frank Spencer (by email)

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