|Picture from left Rally Organizer Donny Arana, brother Gauntlett Holness and pro tem Vice President, Gerry Gausman.|
There has been much discussion and confusion on this subject pertaining to what exactly happened at last Monday's Local 157 meeting and who the President is. Even the parties involved are not entirely sure what happened!
To help answer that question and give you a better understanding, I needed to refer to the UBC Constitution, consult with Chief Compliance Officer John Ballantyne and recap exactly what happened and the events leading up to Monday's historic meeting to find the answer.
On Monday March 21, Local 157 was thrown into the unprecedented position of having both the President and Vice President absent for a regular schedule meeting because of Review Officer ("RO") Dennis Walsh zealous investigation of organized crime influence over the District Council.
We reported that the RO's investigation netted eight council employees, among them were, President Lawrence D'Errico, who's employment the RO is considering vetoing, Vice President Anthony Pugliese, who was pushed into retirement because he refused to cooperate, and Financial Secretary Paul Capurso, who is consulting with an attorney.
D’Errico, who the RO is investigating and considering vetoing has not resign and is still the President of the local. We reported that D’Errico was suspended without pay by Supervisor Spencer, until such time as he is able to resolve his issue with the RO or the RO makes a final determination and vetoes his employment.
Vice President Pugliese signed a letter of resignation resigning from his position as Vice President as stated by Financial Secretary Paul Capurso at the meeting.
Capurso, who played a prominent role in the meeting, did not inform the members about the RO’s investigation, stating only that D’Errico was "unavailable" and Pugliese has retired.
We reported that Pugliese was pushed into retirement because he refused to cooperate with the RO and sign a declaration under penalty of perjury pertaining to mob influence over the affairs of the District Council.
According to Capurso, in accordance with Section 32 D of the UBC Constitution, which he stated, “In the absence of both the President and the Vice President, the Recording Secretary shall call the meeting to order and those present shall elect a President pro tem”.
The Recording Secretary opened the meeting and an election was held electing Brother Michael Bilello as pro tem President (pro tem derived from the Latin word pro tempore meaning for the time being; temporarily). Capurso stated that Bilello will act as president pro tem for the March meeting "only."
Upon taking his position on the dais, the newly elected pro tem President put his foot in his mouth, self-destructed, and criticized for being against union democracy and transparency, (See, A Defining Moment) by wrongfully refusing to accept a motion for a copy of the meeting minutes.
"I was disappointed at how the meeting was facilitated by Brother Bilello, in particular regarding the meeting minutes, though he handled the issue slightly better than Derrico (at least there was some progress in the end.) "Allowing the member increased access to meeting information is common sense and entirely consistent with the spirit of direct democracy and Robert's Rules of Order." "Billelo's obstinate adherence to an irrational interpretation of Rule 30, and his arbitrary departure from the due process of consistently recognizing motions brought to the floor by all members, is a foul omen of history repeating in the perpetual cycle of dictators. Because Bilello disagrees with a motion is not justification for blocking the members from voting on it."
"Furthermore, if the issue is maintaining secrecy, the meeting can be moved to Executive Session where no records of the proceedings are kept (except results.) Limits of secrecy can be set accordingly for what is printed on paper or posted on the website by vote."
"The real issue should be that there are bosses who hold cards, who can attend meetings, who can log on with a password to the District Council. Perhaps for security purposes bosses should not be eligible for membership." "But limiting access to information is sure sign of dictatorship; Bilello has acted in a way that has inspired a significant no confidence vote against him in a time when there should be no question about the qualifications of our elected officials", a member posted criticizing Bilello's action.
Under his authority as pro tem President, Michael Bilello conducted roll call after which he appointed Brother Gerard Gausman as pro tem Vice President.
As stated in Section 32 B of the UBC Constitution, “When vacancies occur in any elective office of a Local Union or in the position of delegate to the Council from a Local Union, the President of the Local Union may appoint a qualified member to fill the vacancy pro tem, until such time as an election is held to fill the vacancy." (Note: May appoint, not must appoint)
On December 7th, Gausman was elected Vice President in a special executive board election in former Local 608 before UBC General President dissolved the local on December 14, 2010 and transferred all its members to Local 157. Gausman, promised to "end the years of corruption, institute democratic reforms, have full transparency and accountability, and run the local solely for the benefit of the membership."
Now this is where it gets very interesting so pay very close attention.
In the possible absence of President Lawrence D’Errico during our next scheduled meeting on April 18th, we need to refer to Section 34 of the UBC Constitution, which states:
“The Vice President shall assist the President in the discharge of the official duties and shall perform the duties of President in the event of the absence of the President. In the event of the death, removal or resignation of the President, the Vice President shall fill the office of President, until such time as a President is elected."
Based on this section, pro tem Vice President Gerard Gausman would open the April meeting in the absence of President D'Errico, in his capacity as pro tem Vice President.
Bilello was elected pro tem President for the March meeting "only," and who's service is no longer needed, in essence he served only as the presiding officer to conduct one meeting. Bilello was under no obligation to appoint a pro tem Vice President, he chose to do so. Had he left the office vacant, and in the possible absence of President Lawrence D’Errico during our next scheduled meeting, the April meeting would resemble the March, and we do it all over again.
But that did not happen, we have pro tem Vice President Gausman, who will open the April meeting and assist the President and perform the duties of President in the absence of President D'Errico.
In the event D'Errico resigns his position as President, pro tem Vice President Gausman shall fill the office as President until such time as a President is elected. Local 157's next election is scheduled for July.
All bets are off of course if General President McCarron decides to dissolve Local 157 for whatever reason and transfers all it's members to newly formed Local 395 and appoint a new executive board.
With over 10,000 members, Local 157 is the largest of 11 locals in the New York City District Council of Carpenters and the UBC, the local controls virtually all high-rise construction in Manhattan and in the Bronx.
You couldn't make this stuff up...fascinating, congratulations Brother Gausman.
John's Note: We urge all our union Brothers and Sisters to attend the "Rally For Solidarity" schedule for Wednesday April 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm.
Click here to print out the Rally flier and and hand it out to your fellow brothers and sisters, post it at your job site, deli, etc. The Rally is being organized by Donny Arana and pro tem Vice President Gerry Gausman. To volunteer or for more information contact Donny at 516-582-8930 or Gerry at 516-695-1439.