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.

If all agree, the petition will be embedded on this blog for members to sign and an email automatically will be sent to the Review Officer. You will also be able to print out the petition and collect member signatures. The goal is to get hundreds, thousands, of signatures to the Review Officer, specifically telling him how we want this union to be governed.  

So get busy, carefully read and change/update the "Articles of Basic Rights," one by one, and fine tune each with the proper language. Let's get this petition Finalized!

(John's note: I changed the comment setting for this page, I prefer any changes or comments be made at the forum, click here to comment.)

Declaration For Union Democracy


We the People of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, in Order to form a more democratic Union, establish Justice, elevate the Moral and Intellect of all our members and to improve the Union in every way possible, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Declaration For Union Democracy.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that Rank and File members must have both the unalienable Right to participate in all union decisions and a sense that it is, in fact, their Union.

That to secure this right, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. To that end we offer the following:

Articles of Basic Rights

We, the Rank and File members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, Petition, Review Officer, Dennis Walsh, for a more democratic Union, less susceptible to problems of corruption, labor racketeering, and infiltration by organized crime, and that this Union be governed democratically and be returned to the rank and file membership who are its rightful stewards and entitled to participate in all matters that effect them.

And in support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge our sacred Honor and do mutually and freely affix our signature to the following articles of Basic Rights.

Article I
We demand an end to the system by which collective bargaining contracts are imposed on members without their review. We claim the right of members to vote for (ratify) or against proposed contracts. Before any such vote, we propose (1) That the full and accurate terms of any contract be reported to the membership far enough in advance of the vote to permit intelligent review, (2) That provisions be made for democratic discussion of the contract provisions, and (3) The right to elect rank-and-file representatives to contract negotiating committees.

Article II
We demand automatic distribution to all members, all copies of the collective bargaining agreements, union constitutions and bylaws, council and local meeting minutes and financial reports, We also demand full disclosure and accurate reports on Council finances, expenses, salaries.This shall be achieved by a mailing to the members last known address on file with the UBC or by posting in an electronic media format, IE: The District Councils web site. These documents and reports shall be updated on a monthly or annual basis as is feasible and relevant to the particular document.

Article III
We demand that elections of all organizers and business representatives, shall be by the rank and file by secret ballot vote. The appointed representatives of the Council tend to lose touch with their membership and forget that their first loyalty is to those whose dues pay their salaries. By accepting designation as Council employees and accepting council salaries a clear conflict of interest is created. The documented history of their actions have proven that this conflict of interest has made them subservient to the subordinate body and not the membership. To remind them of this basic principle of unionism, we propose that all Council Officers, Local Officers, organizers and business representatives be elected by direct vote of the membership every three years supervised by an impartial outside agency.

Article IV
All Business of the Council shall be decided by a secret ballot vote of the rank and file. To achieve this end no delegate to the council may be an Officer, Organizer, Business Representative and any person paid by or in the employ of the Council or United Brotherhood of Carpenters. The present delegates system is a dismal failure and the majority of delegates are paid council employees. They have proven themselves to be corrupted by their council paychecks they have acted in a bias and discriminatory manner when voting on business placed before them. The only remedy for this corrupted system is to ban individuals paid by the council or the United Brotherhood in any manner from holding a delegate to the council seat.

Article V
No Local or Council Officers shall be appointed positions. We demand the right to fair and impartial Local and Council elections for all positions that are conducted by both mail-in ballot and in person secret ballot voting. The documented history of their actions have proven that appointed Officers represent a conflict of interest. This conflict of interest has made them subservient to the subordinate body and not the membership. These elections shall be supervised by an impartial outside agency.

Article VI
There shall be Salaries caps for all Officers, Organizers and Business Representatives. A Local or Council Officer or representative cannot understand the problems of members who make less than half what they make. Salaries for all Local and Council Officers shall be capped at three thousand dollars over the highest paid Carpenters wage and 1000 dollars for all Organizers and Business Reps. It shall be formulated based on prevailing wage, a 40 hour work week and 52 weeks in any calender year. Salary increases shall be limited to the same increase as the membership negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement and subject to membership approval. Any give back or wage freezes suffered by the rank and file carpenters shall be imposed on the elected Officer, Organizer or Business Representative as well.

Article VII
Pension contributions of all Council Officers, Local Officers, Organizers and Business Representatives shall be restricted to the same formula and rules of the plan offered to the rank and file Carpenters. Pension contributions shall be based on a forty hour work week and 52 weeks in any calender year provided the Officer, Organizer or Business Representative is actually engaged in the business of his job during those hours. There shall be no special consideration in pension contributions given to any Officer, Organizer or Business rep beyond those offered to the rank and file in the associated plan.

Article VIII
The rank and file shall have the right to approve or veto all names submitted as candidate for trustee to any and all of the union’s benefit funds both Labor and Employer side. This shall be decided by a committee made up of a Chairman and an equal number of members from all locals affiliated with the Council. The committee shall investigate the submitted candidate and veto or approve the candidate by secret ballot vote of all committee members. This article and its provisions shall be immediately adopted by all fund Plan documents.

Article IX    
All paid holidays, golf days, sick days and any other paid time off not offered to the rank and file are hereby rescinded. If the rank and file are not guaranteed paid days off in the negotiated collective bargaining agreement no Council Officer, Local Officer, Organizer or Business Representative shall receive any such paid days off.

Article X
If needed