Thursday, February 24, 2011

VP Frank Spencerʼs Dismal Performance As Supervisor

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid membership.

He has been passive about removing certain elements of racketeering and the influence of organized crime over individuals who are currently employed at the district council.

He has supported council criminals who were co-conspirators in convicted Mike Forde's racketeering schemes.

He has supported and failed to detect council criminals who embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He has supported the purchase of an $8300 gold Rolex watch as a retirement gift for a council embezzler.

He has supported the hiring and promotion of an unqualified council crony, in spite of, removing all his body hair to avoid drug testing, allege drug use, arriving to work late and leaving early, failing to report to work and embezzling assets of the council.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On-the-Go Construction Info

New Codes on Building Permits Will Provide Smartphone Users With City Data


Ever pass a construction site and wonder what's happening? Technology unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday will give the public fast access to building information.

The city's Department of Buildings has started to print "Quick Response," or QR, codes—similar to a bar code—on all permits for buildings undergoing any type of construction in New York City.

"Anyone passing by who wants to know more about a project will be able to scan the QR code with a smartphone and learn about the property owner, the approved scope of work and any complaints or violations related to that project," Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan.

The building information is already available to the public on the city's website. "But the QR codes," the mayor said, "will provide instant access to a condensed mobile version of the Buildings Department webpage, which provides permit and violation history for every building in the city." The website currently receives more than one million views a day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Contractors Try to Bypass Unions


New York City's major construction contractors are gearing up to go around union chiefs and directly reach out to members to get them to agree to reductions in wages and benefits.

With an upcoming round of major contract negotiations approaching, the umbrella construction employer group says it will target "rank and file" union members to make management's case. Contractors, who are represented by the Building Trades Employers' Association, say that major concessions are necessary to help crank up the city's construction industry.

Union officials call the move "draconian" and an "unprecedented" scare tactic. "These are very bold steps the [association] is taking and it will definitely effect the tenor of our negotiations," says Gary La Barbera, the president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella union group.

The move by the association threatens the relationship between the contractors and unions—who made a show of trying to work together during the downturn to keep construction costs down and employment up. Construction employment, which hit a peak of an average of 131,383 in 2008, fell to an average of 115,500 in 2010, according to New York Building Congress, a trade organization which represents both labor and management.

There are 30 major construction contracts to be redrawn by June 30, far more than those negotiated in an average year. Contracts with unions representing painters, carpenters, operating engineers, steam fitters and concrete workers are among those expiring.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trustees Hire New Counsel To Investigate Financially Troubled Funds

Raymond McGuire
More than a year after its parent union placed the New York City District Council of Carpenters under supervision because its leader was charged with racketeering, the health of the Benefit Funds are in "dire,dire financial trouble" and it is "very possible that the funds will in fact collapse within ten years,” according UBC attorney Kenneth Conboy, revealed in court proceedings on February 8th related to the Bilello motion, for council elections.

The Funds provides life insurance, hospitalization, medical care, pension and vacation benefits to union members.

Conboy also informed Judge Richard Berman, that District Council Benefit Fund trustees have agreed upon new counsel for the Benefit Funds, Raymond McGuire, of the law firm KM & M. McGuire is a very distinguished Harvard Law School graduate labor lawyer in New York.

According to Conboys assessment, the fundamental difficulty with the funds is that a "large number of contractors appear to have been given waivers" by the corrupt Forde administration, allowing them to evade contributions to the fund.

Mr. McGuire responsibilities among other things, will be to do a " thorough investigation of the of the financial condition of the funds and a retrospective inquiry as to what money is owed, who owes it, and how can it be collected." This challenge will involve undoubtedly bringing lawsuits against those contractors who had legal obligations to contribute to the fund and did not. Mr. McGuire will also make recommendations for a "completely reformed internal administrative engine to deal with this in a responsible way or, very possibly, independent third party administration of the fund."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Union Members Hope to Make Voices Heard

By John Tuohy and Dana Hunsinger

Indiana union members plan to swarm the Statehouse this week to protest a slew of Republican-sponsored bills they say would weaken their membership.

"We are calling on teachers, carpenters, electrical workers from all corners of the state to come here, stand up for workers, make their voices heard and defeat these bills," said Rick Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers.

At issue are the so-called "right to work" bill, another that curtails collective bargaining in teacher contracts and a bill that prohibits automatic payroll deductions for union dues. The protests would rekindle a debate that touched off a partisan spat on the first day of the current General Assembly and focus attention on issues that Gov. Mitch Daniels views as unnecessary this year.

Union leaders said the bills will depress union wages, which, in turn, will lower the pay of all workers.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin protests continue; counter-demonstrators support governor's bill

By Brady Dennis

Launch Photo Gallery

MADISON, WIS. - And on the sixth day, the counter-protesters came.

A clear, cold Saturday saw some of the largest crowds yet descend upon Wisconsin's state capitol to march, chant and shout about Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial proposal to trim benefits and curtail collective bargaining rights for many of the state's unionized workers.

The overwhelming majority of protesters were teachers, students and other public-service workers who spent the better part of a week demonstrating against Walker's bill. But Saturday's throngs included a sizable and vocal collection of tea party activists who arrived to show support for the embattled governor.

"I wanted Scott Walker to know that there are tons of people behind him," said Karen Wartinbee of Oconomowoc, Wis., who carried a sign that read, "Go Scott Go!"

Law enforcement officials ramped up security Saturday, bolstering their ranks with officers from nearby counties to guard against any violent clashes. But the protests remained largely peaceful, if not altogether friendly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crunch Time For Construction Unions

Click to enlarge.
This article was brought to my attention by a union brother.

Upcoming renegotiation of union labor agreements with contractors seen as a moment for change in the industry

By Daniel Geiger

Struggling amid the lingering effects of a deep recession that has strangled real estate development and eaten into the amount of government infrastructure and capital spending, construction contractors in the city are seeking to renegotiate agreements with the unionized labor they employ in order to cut costs.

Later this month, the Building Trades Employers’ Association, an organization that represents 1,700 construction managers, general contractors, and specialty subcontractors in the city, which in turn employ about 125,000 people, is set to circulate a letter seeking over 25 concessions from the roughly 30 unions whose labor contracts are set to expire later this year.

The changes take aim at adjusting work rules in order to make union labor more efficient and productive but could also include 25 percent wage or benefit reductions people familiar with the document say, the type of concession that unions have bitterly opposed in the past.

The unions, which individually represent construction trades such as steamfitters, laborers, electricians, carpenters, and crane, bulldozer, and hoist operators, are in a precarious position. The amount of construction jobs in the city has dramatically dropped since the economic downturn. And with the state facing a nearly $10 billion deficit, the pipeline of government contracts, a major source of work for the industry, has also markedly tapered off.

Anti-union bills pass despite worker protest


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation aimed at weakening the leverage of labor organizations in Idaho passed another hurdle Wednesday despite opposition from union workers who flooded the Capitol this week to testify against the two bills.

"We're not bad people, we're just working-class people," said pipefitter J.D. Day. "This is legislation that's going to hurt a lot of union families."

The first bill seeks to prohibit so-called "project labor agreements" that require contractors to forge pacts with unionized workers as a condition of winning a government construction job. Dean Haagenson, owner of Contractors Northwest Inc., said such agreements exclude nonunion shops like his from projects.

But labor groups say the proposed changes are unnecessary. They add that the prohibitions would be an invitation for lawsuits.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New owner takes Tishman Construction global

New unit, formed with construction company's chief executive and owner Aecom's name, will sell soup-to-nuts building services.

World Trade Center Site Under Construction.

By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh

One of the world's largest engineering and design firms unveiled Thursday a new division that for the first time will take projects from design through construction, and it tapped the president of one of New York's largest construction firms to make it happen.

Los Angeles-based Aecom Technology Corp. announced it has named John Livingston of Tishman Construction Corp. to lead what will be called Aecom Construction Services, which will offer its services to large commercial and institutional clients.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Court Transcript - Bilello Motion For Council Elections

Below is the transcript of proceedings of February 8th related to the Bilello motion, you may find to be of interest.

Here is a new idea for a more democratic union, take rank and file voting rights away!

Attorneys for Defendant United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Mr. Conboy:

"What is critically necessary is a comprehensive review of what kind of democratic mechanism ought to be in place here to minimize this ongoing problem. The United Brotherhood is of the view that there should be a significant change in the way that officers of the district council and the executive board are elected.

The United Brotherhood will be submitting to the United States attorney and to the review officer promptly a very significant revision of the power structure of the New York City District Council.

As your Honor knows, there is now a direct election of these critical officers and board members by the rank and file.

The UBC believes that a much more effective method of democratic engagement of the rank and file will be accomplished by a different method of election. That method of election is in fact in operation in many district councils across the United States.

I might add that none of these district councils have had anything like the disgraceful and intractable problem of corruption and racketeering that has plagued the New York District Council, indeed, throughout the entire life of the consent decree.

The idea is to have delegates chosen in each local to become not merely voters on election day, but to be integrated into the governance of the New York District Council."


Also posted is a copy of the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Harrington v. Chao (2004) which, though decided almost seven years ago, remains interesting reading for anyone interested in questions relating to union governance and democracy.

IG and CCO See No Constitutional Violations

On Thursday, February 3, I sent a letter in response to Inspector General, Scott Danielson, and Chief Compliance Officer, John Ballantyne, letter and email dated January 31, regarding violations of the UBC Constitution by Local 157 President Lawrence D"Errico.

Below is their email response to my letter... 

Click to enlarge.

And my reply...John: When the motion for meeting minutes is made once again at a future meeting, and President D'Errico refuses to accept the motion again, and an appeal from the decision of the chair is made and rejected once again, maybe then you will find "basis for which to change our decision."


Monday, February 14, 2011

Draft Petition - Declaration For Union Democracy

In meeting with Herman Benson of the Association for Union Democracy on February 8, he advised that the best course of action for reform lies with Review Officer, Dennis Walsh. Herman suggested we form a committee and outline the changes we all want for our union and then petition the Review Office for reform.

Think of this blog as your online committee and any petition that is finally approved will be posted as a collective work, originating from the membership. This draft of a petition is a work in progress. This draft is the product of discussions and concerns of members posted on this blog and posted changes to the first original draft.

Feel free to continue to add or change any of the words. Collectively, with all the great minds we have here, we can write this petition together.

I will continue to edit and update the petition with your changes and suggestions on this post. Once we have a final petition that we agree on, it has been suggested that a "physical public forum be arranged, and a date announced, so the rank and file have opportunity to directly engage in a documented process and provide consent." I have absolutely no objection to that suggestion and my sole purpose is to facilitate this process.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Justice Served

On February 7, Michael Forde, 56, the former corrupt executive secretary-treasurer of the New York City District Council of Carpenters surrendered to the Federal Correctional Institution, McDowell. McDowell is a medium security facility housing male offenders which is located in southern West Virginia.

Now registered as Inmate 62573-054, Forde will serve his 11-year prison term in the facility’s medium-security wing.

Forde had pleaded guilty to racketeering, bribery and perjury in late July in connection with taking as much as $1 million in illegal contractor bribes and skimming many millions more from union benefit funds. The Justice Department uncovered the scheme as part of a probe that netted guilty pleas from eight persons and the jury conviction of Genovese crime family-linked contractor Joseph Olivieri. In addition to serving time, Forde must forfeit $100,000 in cash, pay a $50,000 fine, and pay restitution of about $4.5 million. Fordes' release date is September 6, 2020.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Salem Carpenters Union Consolidated

Local 1065 dissolved in January; part of Oregon City office

Steve Carlson (left), president of the carpenters local 1065, and Shawn Harney, work on the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom War Memorial in 2006.
 By Michael Rose 

After nearly 109 years, union carpenters are no longer represented by Local 1065. The union local, chartered in Salem in April 1902, has been swept up in a wave of consolidation ordered by its national leadership.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America dissolved Local 1065 and 14 other union locals effective Jan. 24, according to a letter signed by General President Douglas McCarron. Members of those locals still will be represented by the carpenters union, but their old union halls are fading into history.

"I have been a member for 33 years. I have kind of a historical connection to the building and local," said Steve Carlson, the former financial secretary of Local 1065. His new title is service representative for Marion, Polk, Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Developer Chosen to Start Long Island City Housing Complex

Hunters Points South is to include nearly 700 low- and moderate-income rental apartments and a 10-acre park.

The Bloomberg administration announced Wednesday morning that it had selected a development team led by Related Companies to build the first phase of a development on the Queens waterfront, which, when completed, will be the largest middle-income complex built since the 1970s.

Related, and its partners — Phipps Houses, the largest nonprofit moderately priced housing operator in the city, and Monadnock Construction, one of the largest builders of such housing — will erect two buildings at what is called Hunters Point South with 908 rental apartments, at least 685 of which will be set aside for working- and middle-class families earning $32,000 to $130,000 a year.

The entire project, which was first announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg more than four years ago, will offer subsidized housing for an unusually broad swath of working- and middle-class families. The city has invested heavily in the site, by buying this once industrial stretch of waterfront where Newtown Creek enters the East River for $100 million.

The city will also build a 10-acre park and install the necessary water and sewer lines for the entire site.
The site plan for Hunters Point South. Click to enlarge.NYC Economic Development Corp. The site plan for Hunters Point South. Click to enlarge.

“At Hunter’s Point South,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement Wednesday, “not only will we build the largest affordable housing complex in more than three decades, we’ll do it on a long-vacant waterfront property that has incredible views and sits adjacent to one of New York City’s fastest growing neighborhoods.”

The project has been a long time coming. Years ago, the Bloomberg administration wanted to use the land to build housing for athletes as part of its ultimately unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Olympics; after the Olympics, the housing would have been converted to apartments.

Downtown Skyscraper for the Digital Age


8 Spruce Street. More Photos.
Many New Yorkers have been following the construction of the new residential tower at 8 Spruce Street, just south of City Hall, with a mix of awe and trepidation.

Frank Gehry, the building’s architect, has had a rough time in this city. His first commission here, years ago, was for an Upper East Side town house that was never built; his client, an oil heiress, fired him over Champagne and strawberries. A more recent foray, the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, drew the ire of local activists, who depicted him as an aging liberal in bed with the devil — a New York City real estate developer.

The Spruce Street project (formerly called Beekman Tower) would not only be Mr. Gehry’s first skyscraper, but it was also being built for the same developer, Bruce Ratner. And as the tallest luxury residential tower in the city’s history, it seemed to epitomize the skyline’s transformation from a symbol of American commerce to a display of individual wealth.

Only now, as the building nears completion, is it possible to appreciate what Mr. Gehry has accomplished: the finest skyscraper to rise in New York since Eero Saarinen’s CBS building went up 46 years ago. And like that tower, and Philip Johnson’s AT&T (now Sony) building after it, 8 Spruce Street seems to crystallize a particular moment in cultural history, in this case the turning point from the modern to the digital age.

The tower, 76 stories high and clad in a rumpled stainless-steel skin, stands at the northern edge of the financial district on a tight lot hemmed in by one-way streets. The Pace University building, a wide, Brutalist-style structure completed in 1970, cuts it off from the rest of the city to the north; just beyond are the spaghettilike access ramps of the Brooklyn Bridge. To the west and north are two early landmarks of skyscraper design, Cass Gilbert’s 1913 Woolworth building and McKim, Mead & White’s 1912 Municipal building.

Monday, February 7, 2011

NYC District Council of Carpenters Welcomes New Representatives

The New York City District Council of Carpenters is pleased to announce the hiring of 15 new District Council Representatives. After a thorough three-day evaluation and interview process, these members joined our talented team in February and will strengthen our fight to increase our market share and protect the area standards of this city. The hiring process is on-going and we will continue to inform our membership as new District Council representatives are hired.

New District Council Representatives 

Kenneth Bluhm, LU 157
Edward "Eamonn" Carey, LU 157
Ruben Colon, LU 157
Brian Conlon, LU 157
Anthony DiMarco, LU 157
Mangito Fowlkes, LU 157
Raymond Harvey, LU 2287
Anthony Madaio, LU 157
James Makin, LU 45
Gerald Matthews, LU 157
Jeremy Milin, LU 157
Rocco Morea , LU 926
Andrew Mucaria, LU 2090
Denis Pupovic, LU 157
Vanessa Salazar, LU 45

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gambino crime family quietly made millions building high-rise condos across city

The Venetian Condos at 431 Avenue P in Midwood, Brooklyn.
BY Robert Gearty

The housing boom that swept the nation spawned glittering luxury condo towers across New York City and was a windfall for developers, banks, mortgage brokers - and the mob.

Affluent buyers paid good money for these elite aeries, which offered every luxury from 24-hour doormen to breathtaking skyline views.

While the white-collar world reaped fortunes, the Gambino crime family quietly made millions building high-rise condos from the trendy Flatiron District to hipster Brooklyn to gentrifying Queens, a Daily News probe found.

It wasn't always a good deal for all concerned. Twice, botched excavations resulted in the near-collapse of buildings next door.

And prosecutors say one prominent Brooklyn developer got a lesson in Extortion 101, coughing up $120,000 in a shakedown scheme.

Gambino soldier Vincent Dragonetti and mob associates Thomas Frangiapane and Anthony Scibelli skimmed cash from the exclusive buildings by controlling contractors like Duramax Construction, Hunter-Atlantic, ACE and VMS, the feds allege.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Government’s Memorandum Regarding the Restitution Obligations of Defendants Michael Forde, John Greaney and Brian Hayes and Statement by Supervisor Spencer on the Restitution Recommendation


Transcript of my remarks to Supervisor Frank Spencer

On January 27, Supervisor Frank Spencer attended a meeting of Local 157. This was the first time in the 535 days of supervision, that Spencer addressed the membership and answered questions.

Below is a transcript of my remarks to Supervisor Spencer.

In October of 2010 you posted a video message on the councils website, in the video message you said:

"We had the issues with corruption, But that's yesterday."

On December 3rd Review Officer, Dennis Walsh, filed his first interim report, the report is a bombshell and is posted on

According to the Review Officer's assessment, the council remains influenced by the mob and is still a source of cash and illicit benefits for a select few, Walsh wrote:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Open Letter To Inspector General, Scott Danielson and Chief Compliance Officer, John Ballantyne

This is my response to Inspector General, Scott Danielson, and Chief Compliance Officer, John Ballantyne, letter and email dated January 31, posted below.

Dear Scott and John:

Putting aside for a moment the disagreement over the interpretation regarding the consideration or reconsideration of my motion, for the purpose of this discussion we will call it a motion to reconsider.

The original motion was made October 15; it was then reconsidered on November 15 and again at the January 27 meeting.

As John Ballantyne wrote, Rule 31 states: “When a question has been decided it can be reconsidered only at the same meeting or on the next regular meeting night.”

The "next regular meeting night," would be November, the motion was made in January, and so Rule 31 is not applicable.

Thus the need to refer to Rule 5 which states: “All questions of a parliamentary nature not provided for in these Rules shall be decided by Roberts’ Manual."

At the January meeting, a point of order was raised stating, "according to Roberts Rules of Order, a motion that has been previously defeated can be brought up again at the next meeting as new."

President D'Errico did not accept this ruling and denied the motion. An appeal from the decision of the chair was made and the appeal denied. Brother D'Errico also denied an appeal in November.

The motion will be made again and most likely be denied as well as an appeal, thus once again violating the UBC Constitution, this time with the blessing of the IG, because in your opinion this “does not amount to a violation of Sections 51(A)(6) and/or (12) of the UBC Constitution.”

The IG is wrong, parliamentary procedure is all about democracy. Brother D’Errico does not get to decide and impose his will on the membership. This is clear violation of Rule 17 which states:

John Ballantyne Appointed Chief Compliance Officer

The New York City District Council of Carpenters announces the appointment of John Ballantyne as Chief Compliance Officer (CCO).  Mr. Ballantyne brings a wealth of over 25 years experience both in the field and as an officer in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.  His new role as CCO will be to assist our District Council to end misconduct within its ranks by establishing an effective, comprehensive program for monitoring the District Council’s operations.

Brother Ballantyne’s new responsibilities entail ensuring implementation and operation of an effective compliance and ethics program.  Among other duties, Brother Ballantyne will identify any deficiencies’ or necessary improvements in the Compliance and Ethics Program, assess the risk of criminal activity facing the District Council and oversee training with respect to this Program.

While under trusteeship, this unique position shall report to a committee on certain matters including the effectiveness of the Compliance and Ethics Program.  The CCO will be assisted as necessary by the Inspector General.

As foreman and superintendent, Brother Ballantyne has a proven track record of leadership with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.   Mr. Ballantyne began his career nearly three decades ago at Local Union 15’s Carpentry Apprentice Program and has risen through the ranks from delegate, Executive Board member, Trustee, Director of Organizing to his present position of President of the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters and Assistant Supervisor of the New York City District Council of Carpenters.  In addition, he is Trustee on both New Jersey and New York City Carpenters Fund.  Brother Ballantyne was actively involved in the merger of four Councils in New Jersey in to one statewide Council, he assisted in chartering Local 39 and was a vital player in collective bargaining committees in New Jersey and New York.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


All members of constituent local unions of the District Council are invited to attend a forum with me at 395 Hudson Street in which I will speak as well as answer questions and hear from those in attendance who wish to share their thoughts on matters relating to the District Council, the Consent Decree and the Stipulation and Order.

The forum will be in the meeting space of the school on the second floor from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Please have your union cards ready for presentation at the door to gain admission.

Dennis M. Walsh
Review Officer

Wal-Mart’s Unlikely Ally: Construction Unions

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has reached an agreement in principle with New York construction unions to build stores with unionized labor.

The retail giant has been searching for potential sites for a Wal-Mart location in New York City in the face of fierce opposition from retail and grocery unions as well as elected officials. The main sticking points have been Wal-Mart’s wages and refusal to employ unionized workers in its stores.

But one area where Wal-Mart has shown willingness to work with unions is in construction. The retailer’s new five-year agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York means Wal-Mart will use union workers in all of its construction, renovation and demolition work if it decides to open a store in the city. The company began courting the construction unions months ago.

“We share a common goal and that is putting New York City back to work, said Steven Restivo, a spokesman for Wal-Mart. “We have a vested interest in spurring economic development here.” The agreement still needs to be finalized, but the key terms have been agreed upon, he said.

A spokesman with the Building and Construction Trades Council confirmed the deal but declined to comment further.