Saturday, August 27, 2011

Contract Update: Bigger Storm Brewing

Forget Irene; Carpenters Union Prepared To Strike

Hundreds of Carpenters protesting union headquarters.
A Friday deadline to reach new contracts for 25,000 carpenters has again been extended avoiding a potential strike, an informed source at the New York City District Council of Carpenters said.

Carpenters have been unable to hammer out new deals with several contractor associations. The carpenters' contracts expired June 30th and deadlines have been extended several times.

"At this time all seven contractor associations are continuing to negotiate and have contract extensions," the council posted on their website.

On Thursday August, 25 the union put their final proposal on the table, "we are willing to stay at the bargaining table until midnight if necessary and negotiate in good faith and hope to reach an agreement with our contractors," the union source said.

"We are also making preparations and plans for a possible strike, we have given the contractors until Friday to respond," as the clock ticked down to a potential work stoppage.

Late Friday afternoon, after several discussions with contractors, a decision was made to put the strike on hold due to Hurricane Irene and an agreement was reach to extend the contract. "We are in a holding pattern until early next week," the source said.

Contractors advised the council that construction crews are needed around the city to secure scaffolding and at the World Trade Center site where steps are being taken to protect 10 huge tower cranes from the battering winds, securing some with cables, while allowing others to safely swing free.

Earlier this month, concrete laborers walked off the job at One and Two World Trade Center, the new transit hub and a handful of other construction sites in the city amid a push by contractors to reduce their wages and benefits for residential and hotel construction by 20%. The union reached a deal earlier this week that included an 8% raise over three years.

Last Friday rank-and-file carpenters mobilized into action after learning the District Council and the contractor associations had tentatively agreed to a new five-year contract calling for five percent pay cuts in the first year, after already given up two scheduled pay increases.

Hundreds of hard working rank and fliers staged an impromptu rally at union headquarters protesting the tentative agreement. Two carpenters were arrested, as hundreds broke through the police barricade set up across the street from the council and charged the building with signs chanting, "This is our building, This is our building"..."Rats in the building, Rats go home, Rats in the building, Rats go home"...and "No Pay-Cuts, No-Pay-Cuts."

Contract Negotiations are being led by Supervisor Frank Spencer, who was appointed in 2009 by UBC President Douglas J. McCarron to oversee the District Council after several of its officials were indicted for bribery.

Union officials pulled back and withdrew the agreement for a pay-cut after members of the advisory committee and delegates, who will cast ratification votes felt pressure from the rank and file and objected to the agreement.

On Thursday one day before the Friday extended contract deadline, hundreds of rank and filers again kept the pressure on union leaders by participating in a second protest rally, this time setting up a large rat outside union headquarters, demanding a new contract that includes wage increases.

1 comment:

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