Monday, August 29, 2011

Clouds Part, Carpenters Return to Negotiating Table

After having been blown off-course as Friday deadline neared, talks between contractors and 25,000 workers set to resume Tuesday; four of five deals seen near, one not.

No Pay-Cuts; hundreds of carpenters protesting union headquarters. Photo courtesy © Patrick J. Shields 2011
By Daniel Massey

Hurricane Irene provided a brief reprieve for carpenters and contractors, who faced a deadline Friday night in their ongoing talks to reach a new contract for some 25,000 workers.

With the storm approaching, the two sides decided to extend their deadline into this week. Talks will continue Tuesday in an attempt to bridge what remains a considerable gap between the District Council of Carpenters and several contractor associations.

Deals with four of the associations are believed to be close, but a wide gap remains in talks with the General Contractors Association of New York and the Cement League, sources said.

Representatives for the two associations did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman for the union confirmed that talks would resume tomorrow, but could not say how long officials would extend them in an effort to forge a deal. Hundreds of rank and file carpenters rallied last week at their union's Lower Manhattan headquarters chanting “no pay-cuts” in an attempt to pressure union officials not to make concessions.

Their contracts expired June 30, but negotiating deadlines have been extended several times as contractors and the union have tried to hammer out a deal. Delegates voted earlier this month to authorize a strike, but it appeared on Monday as if further talks would come before any job action.

Negotiations for the carpenters are being led by Frank Spencer, who was appointed in 2009 by the general president of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to oversee the local union after several of its officials were indicted for bribery.

Among the key issues in the negotiations is full mobility, or contractors' insistence on the right to hire 100% of workers they choose. Presently, as per a federal judge's order, they must hire a third of their workers through the union's hiring hall.

Contractors argue that the system is inefficient and results in productivity losses because they end up with workers who may not have the particular skills needed on specific job sites.

1 comment:

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