Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carpenters union struggles with new contracts

The parent union of the District Council of Carpenters is pushing for ratification of a deal that includes a key reform sought by contractors. But new leaders of the scandal-plagued New York union are resisting.

By Daniel Massey

Carpenters Rally Against Full Mobility.
The 25,000-member District Council of Carpenters, which has been run by its national parent since its chief was jailed following a 2009 racketeering scandal, has elected new leadership as it moves to regain its independence early next year.

But before a new executive secretary treasurer and other leaders are installed Jan. 11, the parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, is trying to push through the ratification of a half-dozen labor deals that it negotiated with contractor associations.

The new leadership opposes the most controversial element of the deals, a change in hiring practices coveted by contractors. Under the tentative agreements, employers would no longer be required to hire at least one-third of their workers via union referrals, and would instead be free to select any member of the union to work for them.

Contractors have argued that so-called full mobility will save them money by increasing productivity, but union members contend that it will kill important protections like seniority and could lead to discrimination.

“I am against full mobility because I don't believe the union should give up control of the job site,” the union's incoming chief, Michael Bilello, wrote in a questionnaire posted on the District Council website.

As per the stipulation of a federally appointed monitor, the change to full mobility would be accompanied by the formation of a joint labor-management corporation that would assist in contract enforcement and investigate and redress violations through arbitration, fines, and other means.

That monitor, Dennis Walsh, said that full mobility is the centerpiece of the contracts, but that it would only work if accompanied by vigorous enforcement that includes electronic scanning of union cards, video cameras and a team of investigators.

A ratification vote by the union's delegates is scheduled for Jan. 5, but the federal judge handling the case could delay the vote. Only three of the contracts are up on the District Council website, and rank-and-filers were promised at least 14 days to review the deals before any vote. Many union members want the vote delayed until after Mr. Bilello and the rest of his leadership team is inaugurated. Mr. Walsh said up to three more contracts could be posted by week's end and suggested a compromise of Jan. 10.

“The UBC is trying to get the contracts voted on before transition of power,” Mr. Walsh said, referring to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. “There's tension between the newly elected regime and the UBC.”

A UBC spokesman said that the democratic process was playing out. “The members have voted who their representatives will be and now the delegate assembly has to make its decision up or down on the contracts,” the spokesman said. “We should let that run its course.”

One delegate, John Musumeci, who runs a blog on the union, said he would vote against ratification.

“I am going to vote how the membership wants me to and right now the membership is in favor of no full mobility,” he said.

A deal with the General Contractors Association remains far off, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

Separately, a group of dock builders who want to be able to ratify their own contracts is trying to launch a breakaway carpenters union that would be affiliated with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Mr. Bilello, who will be sworn in as executive secretary treasurer—the union's top position—did not return several calls seeking comment. He beat out Dan Franco 2,932 to 1,739 in a contest that attracted only about a quarter of the union's approximately 20,000 eligible voters. Mr. Bilello has been a union carpenter since 1975. He worked for the union from 1997 to 1999 and was viewed as a reformer who fought against the corruption that has long plagued the organization.

In 1990, the federal government brought a racketeering suit against the union, beginning a two-decade period in which the organization has been under monitoring by U.S. officials. In 1994, the government entered into a consent decree with the union, and last year, a federal judge appointed Mr. Walsh to oversee the operations of the union and its benefit funds. Earlier this year, the union's previous leader, Michael Forde, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for accepting bribes from contractors.

Mr. Bilello has promised to root out corruption at a union that, according to Mr. Walsh, still has ties to organized crime, particularly the Genovese family.

“Corruption at the District Council can be ended once and for all,” Mr. Bilello said in a statement in a union election newsletter. “It starts at the top. The union has to be led by people who love the union, not people who love money. The organization wasn't created for people to make it to the top to enrich themselves and leave everyone else behind.”


  1. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which decision issued February 20, 2007 made it amply clear at 9, pg. 7

    “The Consent Decree is clear and unambiguous. King, 65 F. 3d. at 1058. The Consent Decree addresses CBA’s in two places: Paragraph 4(f)(1)(b) and Job Referral Rule 5(B). However, neither empowers the Union to circumvent the Consent Decree through a CBA.”

    At 14, pg 8, the Court of Appeals stated “Rule 5(B) does not permit the Union to make unlimited changes to the Job Referral Rules in a CBA. This is particularly true when Job Referral Rule 5(B) is read in conjunction with Consent Decree Paragraph 11, which again, provide that “[t}o the extent that this Consent Decree conflicts with any current or future rights, privileges or rules applicable to the District Council or its membership, the District Council…hereby waives compliance with any such right, privilege or rule an agrees that it and its membership will act in accordance with this Consent Decree.”

    At 21, pg. 8, the Court of Appeals stated “Paragraph 11 further requires the Union to make the Job Referral Rules part of the District Council By-Laws.”

    The By-law changes were not incorporated into the draft or final by-law rules approved by Judge Berman

    The District Council formally waived this right...time to send in a formal Motion ehh

  2. Steele v. Louisville 323 US 192 (1944)

    “The labor organization chosen to be the representative of the craft or class of employees is thus chosen to represent all of its members, regardless of their union affiliations or want of them.

    As we have pointed out with respect to the like provision of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. 151 et seq., in J. I. Case Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, supra, 321 U.S. 338 , 64 S.Ct. 580, 'The very purpose of providing by statute for the collective agreement is to supersede the terms of separate agreements of employees with terms which reflect the strength and bargaining power and serve the welfare of the group.

    Its benefits and advantages are open to every employee of the repre- [323 U.S. 192, 201] sented unit ....' The purpose of providing for a representative is to secure those benefits for those who are represented and not to deprive them or any of them of the benefits of collective bargaining for the advantage of the representative or those members of the craft who selected it.”….

  3. Let’s get some things straightened out here, first let us understand that the statement you made "includes a key reform sought by contractors" is not correct. The issue of “Full mobility” was not put on the table by the contractors it was put on the table by the UBC .They are the ones who pushed for full mobility and the contractors were only to happy to jump on it. The problem is what this has evolved into has nothing to do with mobility. Mobility is defined as..1. The quality or state of being mobile. 2. The ability to move from place to place.
    How is the contractor being able to pick the entire crew at its discretion and bypass the out of work list have anything to do with mobility. Further right now the NYC Carpenters as well as all other UBC carpenters across the US already have full mobility. All Carpenters in Locals affiliated with a council, and I say affiliated because despite the lies told by the RO the NYC Carpenters and all other UBC Carpenters ARE NOT members of the councils but affiliated with the councils, (see Elaine Chaos Supplemental Statements of reasons in Harrington –v-Chao in which she declares clearly the “UBC rank and file are NOT members of the councils but affiliated with them”). are free to work in any area of the council’s jurisdiction. “Free to move from place to place” So why is the issue of full mobility a contractual sticking point and why would the UBC put the issue on the table creating this situation in the first place. Why. Because the contractors being free to hire its entire crew has nothing to do with full mobility and is not full mobility.

    This is a means for the UBC to remain a non exclusive hiring hall and get around the many NLRB cases it now endures because its corrupt UBC Officers bypass the out of work list on a regular basis. They ignore their legal contractual obligation which dictates that in exchange for dues and assessment payments they will find members work in an unbiased and timely manner. The Out of Work list is one of, if not the main, tool they use to satisfy that obligation, It is the main tool they use and they bypass those who are next to go out to work so they can send out their friends, cousins brothers and relatives and abuse the out of work list on a regular basis. Check the regional NLRB case lists and see how many case have been brought against the UBC for discriminating against members, bypassing members on the out of work list to serve their relatives or to punish members who speak out, and for failure to fulfill their obligation of fair representation. You will find that those who have filed the many cases with the NLRB against the UBC for cheating them on the Out of Work list have lost EVERY SINGLE TIME. Why?? Not because it did not happen and not because the regional offices of the NLRB have conflicts of interest and have shown questionable favoritism to the Unions. They have lost because the NLRB has declared the UBC runs NON EXCLUSIVE hiring halls and the UBC can send out anybody they want any time they want and the Out of Work list be damned. I have the documents to prove it and so do many other UBC members who have filed with the NLRB. By allowing the contractors to hire who they want and when they want the UBC no longer will bear the burden of the NLRB cases because it puts an end to the out of work list and the corrupt UBC will continue to cheat the members but they will do it now with the help and the cover of the contractors. Let’s see any member file with the NLRB under this system. The only reason the NYC rank and file have been accommodated with out of work is corruption allegations is because they are unique in that they have the consent decree. No where else in the US does any UBC member have any such protection under a consent decree and the corruption is rampant.

  4. Let look at the rest of the UBC world. In Upstate New York Tom Garrison who we call “Hatchet Jack” Garrison because he has gone across the country as the UBC hatchet man and stolen the UBC Local charters against the will of the members, dissolved their locals against their will and emptied there bank accounts against their will. He came to an Albany Local 370 meeting. He told members at the meeting that UBC member Richard Dorrough was a liar and all the information on Richard Dorroughs web site was lies. He told them the UBC was not going to pull their charter, he told them the UBC was not going to take over of dispatching the Local members and he told them the UBC was not going to seize control of their jobs as the liar Richard Dorrough was saying on his web site. Two weeks later it turned out old Hatchet Jack was the liar. Against the will of the members they stole the locals charter, dissolved the local, fired all elected officers and replaced them with hand picked cronies, seized control the job sites, emptied the local bank accounts and are dispatching Albany NY workers from Edison New Jersey. Keep in mind as you read forward that without the so called full or 100% mobility as it is called upstate they would not be dispatching anyone from New Jersey. Also keep in mind that the actions taken against Albany NY were also taken against those UBC members who are now the Amalgamated Carpenters and are the real reasons they are seeking to break away from the UBC. Be advised as you read forward that RO Dennis Walsh is right now trying to use his RO position and Judge Bermans court to try and force these members to stay in the UBC, be stripped of their rights to choose their Union representation by vote under the NLRB and DOL regulations and remain a part of the NYC UBC which in his own words Walsh says”, still has ties to organized crime, particularly the Genovese family.” After 20 years of corruption and the failure of the previous court supervision and the obvious failure of Walsh to remove this corruption he would FORCE members to stay in this cess pool of corruption to satisfy his own ego. How dare they walk away from King Walsh. How dare they go against the RO Office agenda for Unionism in NY which as it turns out is the same in many areas as the corrupt UBC. Full mobility, dissolving locals against the will of the members. Forcing the Locals to give over their rights to delegates whom Walsh as of yet has failed to remove the stain of UBC corruption from. How dare those Amalgamated Carpenters want a Democratic Union away from this cess pool. Be advised also that Hatchet Jack Garrison came to a Local 370 meeting on December 13th 2011 and announced that we too would be victims of mobility. Only in upstate New York it’s called 100% Moblity. It is now in our new Contract and was explained by Tom Garrison and I quote. A contractor came come to Albany and bring his entire crew and not have to hire a single member from the Local Albany area or from Local 291. That is what a UBC worker is the victim of in Upstate NY. No pesky consent decree here. No more pesky NLRB cases and no jobs or WORKERS dispatched from Albany but entirely controlled from out of state by New Jersey and another UBC wonder clown Mike Capelli.

  5. Do we now understand what Full Mobility is and why the UBC put it on the table. The issue of 100% mobility was put on the table upstate on December 13,2011. Now you understand it has nothing to do with mobility and everything to do with allowing the UBC to further its corrupt practices by cutting out the power or significance of an out of work list which they have made irrelevant even in New York City and despite the consent decree still being in place. An out of work list which the UBC is contractually obligated to maintain and operate as part of it obligation in exchange for dues to find its members work. What we don’t understand is why the RO Officer Walsh would support such a move towards further corruption. What we don’t understand is why when Judge Berman asked Walsh and Conboy to define and explain Full Mobility neither one of them mentioned mobility at all. Both and especially Walsh gave a song and dance about Full Mobility being “defined as” the formation of a joint labor-management corporation that would assist in contract enforcement and investigate and redress violations through arbitration, fines, and other means. None of these things have anything to do with mobility. They are what Walsh will get if they agree to full mobility. This is the deal and Walsh and Conboy both spoke as if Full Mobility was a done deal and Walsh who is supposed to present unbiased information to Judge Berman so the Judge can he make an informed decision presented it as a deal breaker. That if Full Mobility was not given the all these enforcement measures, secret spy crap, rat out your brothers and sisters but let McCarron and Spencer off the hook, keep the RO office in work for ten years and fines would all be lost and the contract would not be settled causing unrest and turmoil. Not at any time did either of them explain that full mobility means the death of the out of work list. The death of the main tool for the UBC to fulfill its obligation to find work for its members and the death of Unionism in NYC as rank and file workers are now going to be kissing some serious contractor ass if they want jobs. Suddenly Full Mobility became defined as “the formation of a joint labor-management corporation that would assist in contract enforcement and investigate and redress violations through arbitration, fines, and other means” What we do NOT understand is why Walsh played into this deal. Walsh at the snap of his fingers can order and demand all the things and security measures mentioned as part of the full mobility deal without ever raising the issue of Full mobility. Why is he promoting it as one tied to the other when the fact is he can order “the formation of a joint labor-management corporation that would assist in contract enforcement and investigate and redress violations through arbitration, fines, and other means. ”Anytime he wants. So why the deal. Why pretend that one cannot exist without the other. Why is Walsh dong the UBCs dirty work for them and trying to convince the Judge that this must go through for the sake of security instead of providing the Judge information in an unbiased manner. I would love to hear the answer to this. Is it money. Has the UBC agreed to pay for all these security measures which will cost millions in exchange for Full Mobility? Will the RO sell out the Membership in exchange for the financing for a joint labor corporation? You tell us why one was tied to the other for no apparent reason,

  6. “Separately, a group of dock builders who want to be able to ratify their own contracts is trying to launch a breakaway carpenters union that would be affiliated with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades” Lets be clear that these members are breaking away to rid themselves of the corruption that is the UBC. They too have been victims of the UBC.,It is not just over ratification of their contract and they are not alone. Other Locals and members are seeking the same seperation from the UBC and its corrupt leadership. Against the will of their members the UBC stole the locals charter, dissolved the local, fired all elected officers and replaced them with hand picked cronies, seized control of the job sites, emptied the local bank accounts and are dispatching the locals workers. They to are sick of the dictatorship that is the McCarrorn UBC and the undemocratic practices where the membership have no say in any thing. Illegal and unfair assessments are imposed and vacation checks extorted. When Good members such as Brian Brennan refuse to pay the extortion they are persecuted and expelled by a UBC kangaroo court. Which in both the Brennan and Andrew Price cases have shown themselves to be an insult to Union members. They are a group of arrogant and egotistical runts who believe by their position in the UBC they get to decide if a citizen of the US gets free speech rights. One of their ilk, Mike Draper, has recently declared that he and the UBC will decide if a US Citizen is entitled to the legal representation which is their right under the US Constitution. It is for these reasons that many members including the Amalgamated group has walked away from the UBC and as stated RO Walsh wants to abuse his office and try to use Judge Berman to force this group to remain in the corruption infested UBC. Perhaps Mr.Walsh and the UBC leadership share so many common goals because they share the same arrogance.

  7. One last point in your article is the statement of Mr. Biello who stated rather naively
    “Corruption at the District Council can be ended once and for all,” I am sure Mr. Bilello and Mr.Lebo have their hearts in the right place but this is a stretch of the truth. I do not believe Mr. Lebo of all people who has fought this fight for a long time would make such a statement. In my humble opinion the powers of both Mr. Bilello and Mr. Lebo will be severely restricted. Both will be required to walk softly and carry no stick. What do you think will happen to either the first time they have to tell Walsh NO!! How fast do you think they will be vetoed. What do you think will happen the first time Bilello crosses McCarron. How fast will he be persecuted and expelled on trumped up BS UBC charges and before the UBC kangaroo court. To say the NYC corruption will be gone once and for all we have to wonder if Mr. Bilello has a weeping Jesus miracle in his pocket. Here you are after 20 years and the NYS State Prison system has more UBC Officers residents. Drug Addicts like Forde get to go on Three day Canadian excursions with McCarron. Around 29 or more NYC UBC Officers in 2011 were vetoed, fired, retired, quite or put in jail because they were unfit to hold office. Walsh after being in control for how long?? and after being paid how much money?? Declares the UBC and New York District Council still has ties to organized crime, particularly the Genovese family. Yet Mr. Walsh wants to dissolve locals take away the power of the membership and hand the whole thing over to, a by his own admission, a corrupt council and a delegate system he has yet to prove has any chance of success. If Mr. Biello has the miracle in his pocket I wish him success but as long as Walsh and the rest refuse to recognize the complicity of the UBC International, who covered for and supported criminal Mike Forde and others, then the UBC and NYC will never be free of corruption. As long as Mr. Walsh blames the membership for the NYC corruption and holds McCarron and Spencer blameless the corruption will never be out of the NYC UBC


  9. Be advised also that Hatchet Jack Garrison came to a Local 370 meeting on December 13th 2011 and announced that we too would be victims of mobility. Only in upstate New York it’s called 100% Mobility.

    Correction: December 13,2010.

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