Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Right to Strike

Louis Coletti
Hundreds of unionized construction workers have been staging job actions this week at major work sites around the city -- most notably at Ground Zero.

Carpenters this week joined members of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council -- who have been without a contract since July 1 -- in walking off their jobs at the former World Trade Center site, though not at the 9/11 memorial.

Not surprisingly, management is irate.

“It’s offensive,” said Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trade Employers’ Association, adding that the WTC site “should never have been used as a bargaining chip.”

We understand the sentiment -- but, however sincere, it’s profoundly misguided.

Unlike members of public-sector unions -- who quite properly are barred by law and custom from striking -- construction workers have every right in the world to withhold their labor.

True, some unions in some circumstances have chosen contractually to limit their right to strike, or engage in less dramatic job actions.

And some of the affected projects, including WTC Tower 2, were covered by so-called project labor agreements that contained no-strike clauses -- and an arbitrator ordered workers at those sites back on the job. But that’s not the case for most of the Ground Zero projects.

Sure, we want to see work there continue without interruption -- after all, the site has been plagued with delay after delay for years, and the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks is rapidly approaching.

It’s easy to comprehend the impatience of outsiders, since the workers do quite all right for themselves: Wages and benefits can reach $60 an hour.

The current sticking point reportedly involved management’s insistence on a reduction in labor costs of some 20 percent -- a hefty hit, to be sure, but probably not unrealistic in today’s grim economy.

But these are things meant to be negotiated -- and, sometimes, negotiations entail slowdowns and walkouts.

To suggest that Ground Zero should be exempt from a strategy that is the union’s legal and moral right is itself “offensive.”

Better to hash this out around a table.

NY Post



    With regard to the Latham & Watkins letter, at page-1, paragraph 2:

    Sentence one, right out of the gate – the UBCJA International and their counsel of record which the rank & file members pay for directly, start with a 40-page Lexis-Nexis report from the University of California, Boalt Hall Journal of Criminal Law.
    Said report is a firm reminder of past and present crimes.

    Judge Conboy states: “Although these efforts have successfully broken the cycle of murders, beatings, disappearances, and violence that plagued the District Council before the imposition of the Consent Decree, they have not yet been able to stamp out corruption, racketeering and Benefit Fund abuses.”

    The members & your honor should note the ‘emphasis’ on murder – as the first reminder of what can and does occur; and, that there is an intent here, duly imparted to the UBC rank & file members conscious mind which stands contrary to the fraudulent claims of apathy made by the IRO.

    With regard to the Latham & Watkins letter, at page-1, paragraph 3;

    Judge Conboy stated: “More recently, while these anti-corruption efforts have been ongoing, the District Council and the UBC have also been fighting to preserve the economic viability of the Carpenters’ franchise in New York. Not only has the Union been challenged by the national economic crisis (a third of the active membership is out of work and many of the remainder are working only sporadically), but it is also under attack by both non-union labor (including undocumented workers) and rival unions.”

  3. I. Does the collective-bargaining contract waive the employees' right to strike against the unfair labor practices committed by their employers? The answer turns upon the proper interpretation of the particular contract before us. Like other contracts, it must be read as a whole and in the light of the law relating to it when made.
    ". . . we have two declared congressional policies which it is our responsibility to try to reconcile. The one seeks to preserve a competitive business economy; the other to preserve the rights of labor to organize to better its conditions through the agency of collective bargaining. We must determine here how far Congress intended activities under one of these policies to neutralize the results envisioned by the other." Allen Bradley Co. v. Local Union No. 3, 325 U.S. 797, 806 .

    This contract was made in the light of that declared policy. A similar dual purpose is emphasized as follows in 1 of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended:

    "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they [350 U.S. 270, 280] have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection." 61 Stat. 137, 29 U.S.C. 151. See also, the declaration of policy in 1 (b) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 136, 29 U.S.C. 141 (b).

    The two policies are complementary. They depend for their foundation upon assurance of "full freedom of association." Only after that is assured can the parties turn to effective negotiation as a means of maintaining "the normal flow of commerce and . . . the full production of articles and commodities . . . ." 61 Stat. 136, 29 U.S.C. 141 (b).

    Colletti - the rank & file do not have their representatives elected and in place - hence the allged negotiations are not by rep's of our own choosing


    This is an Unfair lLabor Practice Srike and it is legal

    by the SUP. CT. (look it up)
    The Board reasons that the words which provide the key to a proper interpretation of 8 (d) with respect to this problem are "termination or modification." Since the Board expressly found that the instant strike was not to terminate or modify the contract, 18 but was designed instead to protest the unfair labor practices of petitioners, the loss-of-status provision of 8 (d) is not applicable.

    We sustain that interpretation. Petitioners' construction would produce incongruous results. It concedes that prior to the 60-day negotiating period, employees have a right to strike against unfair labor practices designed to oust the employees' bargaining representative, yet petitioners' interpretation of 8 (d) means that if the employees give the 60-day notice of their desire to modify the contract, they are penalized for exercising that right to strike.

    This would deprive them of their most effective weapon at a time when their need for it is obvious.

    Although the employees' request to modify the contract would demonstrate their need for the services of their freely chosen representative, petitioners' interpretation would have the incongruous effect of cutting off the employees' freedom to strike against unfair labor practices aimed at that representative.

    This would relegate the employees to filing charges under a procedure too slow [350 U.S. 270, 287] to be effective.

    The result would unduly favor the employers and handicap the employees during negotiation periods contrary to the purpose of the Act.

    There also is inherent inequity in any interpretation that penalizes one party to a contract for conduct induced solely by the unlawful conduct of the other, thus giving advantage to the wrongdoer. 19

  5. Roosevelt quoting Lincoln in Kansas - August 21, 1910

    "Of that generation of men to whom we owe so much, the man to whom we owe most is, of course, Lincoln.

    Part of our debt to him is because he forecast our present struggle and saw the way out. He said:

    "I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind."
    And again:

    "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

    If that remark was original with me, I should be even more strongly denounced as a Communist agitator than I shall be anyhow. It is Lincoln's. I am only quoting it; and that is one side; that is the side the capitalist should hear.

    Now, let the working man hear his side.

    "Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.... Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor; . . . property is desirable; is a positive good in the world."
    And then comes a thoroughly Lincolnlike sentence:

    "Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built."

    It seems to me that, in these words, Lincoln took substantially the attitude that we ought to take; he showed the proper sense of proportion in his relative estimates of capital and labor, of human rights and property rights.

    Above all, in this speech, as in many others, he taught a lesson in wise kindliness and charity; an indispensable lesson to us of today. But this wise kindliness and charity never weakened his arm or numbed his heart. We cannot afford weakly to blind ourselves to the actual conflict which faces us to-day. The issue is joined, and we must fight or fail.

    In every wise struggle for human betterment one of the main objects, and often the only object, has been to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity. In the struggle for this great end, nations rise from barbarism to civilization, and through it people press forward from one stage of enlightenment to the next. One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege.

    The essence of any struggle for healthy liberty has always been, and must always be, to take from some one man or class of men the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity, which has not been earned by service to his or their fellows."

    re: New Nationalism speech to Civil War vets


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.