Sunday, July 31, 2011
Among the more significant initiatives that NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon has pressed for is the implementation of a program to streamline the process for seeking Section 10(j) injunctive relief ‑ and to expand the substantive scope of when to pursue such serious relief. Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) permits the NLRB to seek a federal court injunction to proscribe unions and employers from committing unfair labor practices – the intended purpose being to use such drastic court-sought remedies where needed to maintain the status quo while a matter is pending before the Board.
While Solomon focuses on the Section 10(j) program as a “top priority,” some have questioned whether the Board’s General Counsel even possesses the statutory power under the NLRA to approve independently such direct court action without the NLRB itself becoming involved.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
This notice is to inform you that the District Council and Contractors Associations have agreed to extend the current terms and conditions of our contracts until Friday August 5, 2011. While the negotiating team had hoped to have new contratcs settled by July 1st, we feel the additional time is necessary to achieve the best possible terms and conditions for our members. We appreciate the patience the membership has exhibited and endeavor to reach a positive conclusion at the earliest possible date.
Be advised that for all work performed under the jurisdiction of the New York City District Council of Carpenters the terms, conditions, wage and benefit rates will continue though August 5, 2011.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Are you a big city looking for big money to invest in your infrastructure? Union pension funds could be your ticket.
“Organized labor is very interested and willing to make significant investments not only in the city but in the nation,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said July 19 at a panel discussion sponsored by Crain’s New York. That goes for both public- and private-sector unions, he said, adding that he hopes to see discussions on public-private partnerships in the city begin “in short order.”
Some Partnerships Exist
Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said that New York is already involved in more public-private partnerships than any other city in the world, but he would like to see more of them.
ScienceDaily — While more Americans are working past age 65 by choice, a growing segment of the population must continue to work well into their sixties out of financial necessity. Research conducted by the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine looked at aging, social class and labor force participation rates to illustrate the challenges that lower income workers face in the global marketplace.
The study used the burden of arthritis to examine these connections because 49 million U.S. adults have arthritis, and 21 million suffer activity limitations as a result. The condition is also relatively disabling and painful but not fatal. The researchers found that blue collar workers are much more likely to work past 65 than white collar workers and are much more likely to suffer from conditions like arthritis, reducing their quality of life and work productivity.
The study findings are reported online in the American Journal of Public Health.
The investigators calculated estimates and compared age-and occupational specific data for workers with and without arthritis, merging data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and National Death Index. They studied 17,967 individuals for the analysis out of 38,473 MEPS participants.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Originally posted 06.07.11: (updated with Greaney sentenced to a year and a day imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and 3 years supervised release).
Wednesday August 5, 2009, federal authorities charged New York City District Council of Carpenters union leader Michael J. Forde, seven other union officials, a contractor, and contractor’s representative with 29 counts of corruption, including racketeering, fraud, bribery, and perjury. According to the charges, bribes were paid out to union leaders to allow contractors around the city to pay cash to workers at below union-rate wages and therefore avoid paying benefits.
All ten defendants have been convicted in this case and only one went to trial. Nine defendants have been sentenced and one defendant remain to be sentenced.
Below is a list of all ten defendants charged in the 2008 indictment and where they are now.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
By William P. Hite
While reliable studies of craft labor productivity in the U.S. are in short supply, a few recent reports that specifically address changing trends in construction over the last decade indicate declines in productive output of skilled trades and rising project costs can be traced to gaps in education and training among non-union workers.
Extensive research conducted by noted organizations in the public and private sectors both attest to this trend. These include one groundbreaking study from the private research firm Independent Research Analysis Inc. (IPA) and another key report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Dept.
Introduced at a 2009 conference of the Construction Users Roundtable, an owners' group, the NIST report shows that construction clearly is facing a serious problem of declining productivity. In fact, the institute cites several academic and industry studies that say the rate of labor productivity growth in U.S. construction is among the lowest, if not the lowest, of all non-farm industries.
|Workers demonstrate in front of the Park Hyatt Hotel|
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, workers at Hyatt Hotels in nine cities are walking picket lines Thursday, trying to pressure the hotel into coming to an agreement on a new contract.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser reports
The Park Hyatt at 800 N. Michigan Ave. was among the hotels where picketing was held, and at some point Thursday morning, someone turned on the outdoor heat lamps that are usually used in winter.
Combined with the outdoor air temperature, Linda Long says it was hotter than the Hyatt kitchen she’s worked in for eleven years.
“They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” Long said. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”
The heat lamps were turned off when the press showed up.
Gabriel Carrasquillo has been a server at Nomi Restaurant the Hyatt for five years. He says this is about subcontracting and farming out their jobs to cheaper workers.
“They’re telling us they’re meeting our needs for health insurance and salaries, but if we don’t have a job, it doesn’t matter how much they’re paying,” Carrasquillo said. “That’s why we’re still fighting.”
The union says the Boston Hyatt replaced 100 housekeepers with temps making minimum wage. That, they say, is what they’re fighting.
By LAURA ITALIANO
One of the biggest area scaffolding companies, Regional Scaffolding, must submit to a court-approved financial monitor and its owners must pay $1.9 million to resolve a massive tax cheat scheme, a Manhattan judge ruled today.
Owners Paul Mazzucca, 43, of Valley Cottage, NY, and Lawrence Blinn, 51, of Upper Nyack, NY, each must also serve five years probation, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Marc Whiten ruled in sentencing the men today on their May plea to felony charges of filing false tax returns.
Their Bronx-based scaffolding company has made tens of millions of dollars off state and city contracts, including at the now-demolished, 9/11-damaged Deutsche Bank building.
In addition, Blinn is the former president and Mazzucca a former executive of the now-defunct John Galt Corp., the contracting company convicted earlier this month of reckless endangerment in the Deutsche Bank manslaughter trial.
In the scaffolding company tax case, Mazzucca and Blinn had been charged with under-reporting the company's income and fudging paperwork to cover for paying workers less than union wages and failing to withhold the appropriate taxes.
Had they been convicted of the original charges against them, they faced up to four years prison.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Local Union 1456 and 1536 have been dissolved and the membership and jurisdictions have been merged into the newly chartered Local Union 1556 effective July 22, 2010.
It has been reported that GP McCarron appointed the following executive committee members:
President, Joe Geiger 1536
Vice President, Chris Sorensen 1456
Treasurer, Chris Parzych 1536
Financial Secretary, Thomas King 1536
Recording Secretary, Matthew Angelletta 1536
Warden, Andrew Svede 1456
Conductor, Thomas Russell 1456
Trustee, Thomas Bender 1536
Trustee, Dennis Olenick 1536
Trustee, Brian McLaughlin 1456
Thursday, July 21, 2011
All members of local unions affiliated with the District Council, as well as employees of the District Council, Benefit Funds and local unions, are invited to attend the next Review Officer Forum at 395 Hudson Street. I will speak as well as answer questions and hear from those in attendance who wish to share their thoughts on matters relating to the District Council, the Consent Decree and the Stipulation and Order.
The forum will be in the meeting space of the school on the second floor from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. Please have your current union or employee identification cards ready for presentation at the door to gain admission.
Dennis M. Walsh
|William Rapetti , Crane rigger.|
NEW YORK — A rigger who worked on a massive construction crane that collapsed and killed seven people has been stripped of his licenses after an administrative judge said his sloppy work was to blame for the collapse, despite his acquittal on all criminal charges last year, the city Buildings Department said Wednesday.
The license revocation bars William Rapetti from running any cranes or overseeing their assembly in the city, and the judge’s finding that he was responsible for the catastrophe could come into play in the cluster of lawsuits surrounding the collapse.
“We have determined that Mr. Rapetti took shortcuts while erecting the tower crane by using damaged equipment and failing to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions,” Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement Thursday. “Those shortcuts sacrificed the safety of the job site and led to horrific consequences.”
Rapetti lawyer Marianne Bertuna said the rigger was very disappointed in the decision and considering fighting it in court to try to get back to the work he’s done since he was 17.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
|Larry Cary Esq., Cary Kane LLP|
A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board makes it clear that even though a union does not owe a duty of fair representation to non-union employees when their workplace is being merged into a union shop, it can violate the law if the union discriminates against them because of their non-membership in the union.
The case involves Kirk Rammage, who worked for 15 years as a sales representative for Interstate Bakeries Corp., and was the most senior employee in the shop. Inadvertently, his position was left out of the bargaining unit when the Labor Board conducted a union representation election. His non-union status was fine with him. Rammage worked for many years receiving company benefits and not paying union dues. The Union did not learn of his presence until Interstate Bakeries decided to merge his shop with another one represented by the same union.
In the discussions over how to deal with seniority rights in the newly merged shop, Interstate Bakeries and the union agreed to dovetail everyone’s seniority except Rammage’s. Dovetailing means the two seniority lists were merged into one list with each person’s placement on the list depending on their previous seniority date. Rammage was end-tailed, meaning his seniority date began when he first came into the merged bargaining unit. The union said it believed it would violate its duty of fair representation to its membership if the union granted him greater seniority over bargaining unit employees.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Protesters from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America blew whistles and chanted, “Who’s the rat? Capital [Interiors]!” as they marched across the street from the 20 Henry Street (Candy Factory) condo construction project Thursday.
“The subcontractor Capital Interiors does not pay area standard wages and benefits,” said Michael Donnelly, representative of the NYC District Council of Carpenters. “No health benefits, nothing. The New York State Department of Labor sets the wage scale, but they chose not to abide by it. It’s basically a race to the bottom.”
In February, Brooklyn Heights Councilman Steve Levin criticized owners Canyon Johnson Urban Funds for hiring Leviathan Construction Management, saying the company was “irresponsible” and had a bad safety record.
|Click to view|
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The District Council has hired three new representatives. The new District Representatives are Frank Ippoliti, John Montgomery and Tom Russell who came on board this Monday, July 11, 2011. These new hires will be assigned to the Manhattan and Queens Rep. Centers.
NYC District Council of Carpenters 2011 Contract Update
**As reported at the July 13, 2011 District Council Delegate Meeting**
While significant progress has been made regarding contract negotiations we have yet to reach a final agreement. Therefore the District Council and our contractor associations have agreed to a second extension of the terms and conditions of our previous contracts until July 28, 2011. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we anticipate settling these negotiations by then if not before.
Please be advised that for all work performed under the jurisdiction of the New York City District Council of Carpenters the terms, conditions, wage and benefit rates will continue as is pending these negotiations.
THE COURT: Nice to see you all. Please be seated. So just a couple of preliminary remarks and then we'll get started.We have a pretty ambitious agenda today, which is to have essentially a series of reports of status on some rather critical areas. One relates to the funds, another relates to the status of the provisions of the bylaws, the another to the restructuring plan, another to negotiations with Wall and Ceiling, and in relation thereto to work rules, and then lastly the election schedule.
So that's a lot -- that is a mouthful. And from my point of view, I am going to try and devote this following rough timeframe: A half hour to the first topic, 20 minutes to the second and third, and then 10 each to the fourth and fifth. And then we'll be able after that to hear from people who haven't spoken.
Members of local that was dissolved say they will now form own group
By ERIC ANDERSON
ALBANY -- Several dozen carpenters are forming their own union after the United Brotherhood of Carpenters dissolved their former local and combined it with another local.
Richard Dorrough, one of the organizers, said 68 people attended a meeting in Albany on Monday night to talk with labor lawyers about their options after the consolidation, which also combined other locals across New York state and merged the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters into the New Jersey Regional Council to form the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.
In all, 33 locals in New York and New Jersey were combined into 10.
Dorrough said that during Monday night's meeting, "we made a motion, took a vote and formed our own local."
What comes next hasn't been decided. The new union will seek to enlist additional members.
The new union could remain independent, or affiliate with another union, or even affiliate as a separate union with the AFL-CIO.
"We're leaning toward re-affiliating with the AFL-CIO," he said.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
A Wednesday walkout by concrete workers was pushed back at least a week as contractors and union officials agreed to keep negotiating. Big projects could still stall if progress doesn't appear.
By Daniel Massey
A threatened walkout by 2,700 concrete workers was averted—at least temporarily—when their unions and the Cement League agreed Tuesday night to continue negotiations for another week.
It’s the second time the two sides have extended their talks since the workers’ contract expired on June 30. Union officials said last week that the league had made a last and final offer that would amount to a pay cut for the workers, who earn about $40 an hour.
The workers had said they would strike starting Wednesday if the league, an industry association, did not improve its offer, but the eleventh-hour extension averts a strike that would have stalled work at 34 sites across the city, including, potentially, the World Trade Center memorial.
Alex Castaldi, business manager of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council, said a bargaining session has been tentatively scheduled for Friday. He said that the workers decided to continue talks “out of sympathy for affected contractors who are not sitting on the negotiating committee and the whole situation with Ground Zero.”
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Activity in first half of year soars 40% over 2010 level and in May and June sets a new record; in good news for tenants, rent increases are still seen as modest.
By Theresa Agovino
Leasing activity in Manhattan in the first half of the year totaled 17.6 million square feet, the best six-month performance in 13 years and a 40% surge from the corresponding period of 2010, according to Cushman & Wakefield Inc. Meanwhile, activity in the last two months of the quarter was the strongest on record.
In yet another bullish sign, absorption—which measures the net change of occupied space in a given time—was a positive 3.2 million square feet. That marked the first time that measure has been positive for the first six months of the year since 2007.
“Leasing activity has been pretty impressive,” said Joseph Harbert, Cushman & Wakefield's chief operating officer for he New York metro region.
All that activity helped shrink the overall average vacancy rate to 9.4% by the end of last month from 10.8% in the same period last year.
The surprising news for landlords—and the good news for tenants--was that despite the surge in deal volumes, the overall asking rents grew a mere 2% to an average of $55.52 a square foot.
“Increases are modest compared to the activity,” said Mr. Harbert. “This is still a relatively good [leasing] opportunity for tenants.”
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
The principal labor law in the United States is the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Before its passage in 1935, employers were free to spy on, interrogate, discipline, fire, and blacklist union members. Nonetheless, during the Great Depression workers took over factories, engaged in citywide general strikes, and battled police and private security forces. Some historians believe that Congress adopted the NLRA to steer labor struggles away from potentially revolutionary confrontations.
The NLRA declares collective bargaining as an official policy of the United States.1 Employers are forbidden from discriminating against workers who join unions, exercise leadership, or engage in strikes.
The NLRA spurred organizing in the automobile, steel, electrical, meatpacking, rubber, and other industries. By 1945, union contracts covered a third of the private sector workforce.
In 1945 and 1946, a great wave of strikes swept the country. In response, business interests petitioned Congress to amend the NLRA. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 prohibited solidarity strikes, closed shops, and secondary picketing. The Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 imposed further restrictions.
THE COURT: I did get a letter from one of the union members'asking that we adjourn today's meeting. I thought better of that because so many people are involved and had already planned to come and also the meeting that that individual, Mr. Franco, was concerned about, was to occur at 5:00 today, and unless there's something very unusual I don't know about we'll be done long before 5:00 and certainly in time for anybody to get to that meeting.
Friday, July 8, 2011
|The Beekman Tower is one of Manhattan's newest rental buildings|
By Ian Thomas
Maybe the only thing hotter than the weather in Manhattan the past few months has been the apartment rental market, where rents have continued to rise and vacancy rates have hit a new low, according to reports released Friday.
Manhattan's apartment vacancy rate was 0.72% in the second quarter, the lowest vacancy rate that Citi Habitats, the city's largest rental residential brokerage, has seen since it started tracking vacancies in 2002. The last time the rate was nearly this low was in second quarter of 2006, when it was 0.76%.
Average rents have seen large increases across the board over the past year, regardless of apartment size. Rental prices for studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments increased 9.1%, 9.2%, 10.8% and 11.3%, respectively, according to Citi Habitats.
Similar trends could be found in a report by Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel. The firms tracked 8,572 new rentals in the second quarter, an increase of 51.5% year-over-year, with the average apartment rental on the market for 33 days, compared with 40 last year.
(John's note: This letter was emailed to the RO on July 1, 2011)
Dear Review Officer Walsh:
This letter is in response to the May 26, 2011 United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, (UBCJA) International Union and the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) and Latham and Watkins proposed Restructuring Plan for the NYCDCC, while its Local Union autonomy has been suspended under a temporary Trusteeship imposed under the LMRDA.
Per the Court Conference of June 28, 2011, we are submitting this to you as we requested and as you have approved.
By Stephanie West
According to New York City Comptroller John C. Liu the New York City Pension Funds recorded investment returns of more than 20 percent in Fiscal Year 2011, which ended June 30. This is the first time in 13 years the Funds have achieved this mark. The preliminary data indicates the Funds values at approximately $119 billion as of June 30, 2011, which exceeds the $115 billion pre 2008 crash peak, and the June 30, 2010 value of $97.8 billion.
The estimated returns for FY 2011, the first full fiscal year under Comptroller Liu who took office on Jan. 1, 2010, follow gains of 14 percent in FY 2010, and reflect stock and bond market recoveries, as well as new actions taken by the Comptroller’s Office and the Trustees of the Pension Boards.
“While the markets remain volatile, we have vigorously pursued a diversification strategy to enhance our returns while lowering pension costs to the City. This will protect pensioners and taxpayers alike in the long run,” said Comptroller Liu. “It has been gratifying to work closely with our dedicated Trustees to achieve these results.”
Thursday, July 7, 2011
By Stephanie West
The labor law firm of Cary Kane LLP has been named the 2011 “ERISA Law Firm of the Year” for the United States by Finance Monthly Magazine, an international publication based in England which is read by law firms, corporate financiers, and international and domestic corporations. The Finance Monthly Law Awards is made by tabulating the votes received from the magazine’s readership.
Cary Kane’s ERISA practice focuses on union affiliated benefit funds. “I think it wonderful that a union-side law firm can be recognized by the readership of an international finance publication as the ERISA Law Firm of the Year in the United States,” said Larry Cary, a founding partner of the firm. “For many years I have tried to develop our ERISA practice to the point where it can become the recognized preeminent union-side ERISA law firm in New York City and I think we are on our way,” he added.
Cary has over 25 years of experience with litigating on behalf of and advising union benefit funds. He serves as a designated trustee for TWU Local 100 on the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, which has $44 Billion in assets, 300,000 participants and is the largest municipal retirement system in the United States.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
|Richard T. Anderson President, Building Congress|
While Manhattan will, for the first time since 2000, go an entire year without celebrating the opening of a significant new office tower, the ingredients exist for a major mid-decade surge in new office construction, according to a New York Building Congress analysis of multiple data sources.
Except for the anticipated completion of 33,700 square feet of office space at 2 Allen Street, no new office completions are expected in Manhattan until the 700,000 square foot Gem Tower in 2012. That tower will be followed by the anticipated completions of 1 WTC and 4 WTC starting in late 2013.
Prior to this year, Manhattan had welcomed at least one new major office tower annually since 2000, including 10 towers of at least one million square feet.
New Office Supply Lagging
Manhattan added approximately 20 million square feet of new office space between 2001 and 2010. While this represents a considerable improvement from the prior decade, when just six million square feet were produced, it is still modest by historical standards. In addition, its effect on Manhattan’s inventory of office space was offset by the 13.5 million square feet destroyed on September 11, 2001.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Tentative contract agreements between contractors and the unionized operating engineers were reached just before Thursday's midnight deadline, preventing a $10 billion strike.
By Daniel Massey
International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15 reached new three-year deals late Thursday with contractor associations, averting a strike that could have brought unionized construction in the city to a standstill.
In a statement, Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers' Association said the unions "made major adjustments" in order for the sides to come together. He declined to elaborate beyond the statement. Details of the agreements were not immediately available.
The deal was announced shortly before a midnight deadline and came after months of tension leading up to the expiration of some two-dozen contracts spanning the construction industry. Union leaders had portrayed a public relations campaign by contractors as counterproductive.
“We’ve said from the start that negotiations are conducted at the bargaining table. Not anywhere else or by anyone else who is not party to collective bargaining,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “We are pleased that the pessimism of those predicting a strike has proven to be as misguided as the extreme rhetoric and demands that ultimately yielded to the real-world approach brought by organized labor to solving problems and improving competitiveness.”
Friday, July 1, 2011
By Carolina Worrell and Debra K. Rubin
While neither union or contractor officials have disclosed terms of a newly signed agreement with two operating engineer locals in New York, details are emerging on key work-rule changes, says an industry source.
The pact was reached June 30 between Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15 and the Building Contractors Association, Contractors Association of Greater New York and Cement League.
The industry source says one significant change involves cutting overtime pay for workers who run inside and outside elevators at jobsites. Another modification would limit use of supervisory "master mechanics" on sites, the source says. The agreement with union officials still must be ratified by the rank and file, with a vote set for July 14. The source says the vote would be contentious.
According to the source, outside elevator operators would see overtime rates cut from double time after eight hours, to time-and-a-half, and inside operators would lose $10 an hour in overtime pay. Elevators can run 24/7 at jobsites, so overtime costs can be significant, the source says.
NEW YORK — New York City crane operators have averted a strike after negotiations went down to the wire.
Louis Coletti of the Building Trade Employers Association says two unions representing crane operators, excavators and maintenance engineers agreed on a new contract late Thursday, less than two hours before their contracts expired.
Work could have been halted at World Trade Center sites and a new basketball arena in Brooklyn.
The New York Building Congress said a strike would have threatened $10 billion in unionized construction projects. The trade association says construction spending is down 25 percent from its 2008 peak and a strike would have come at the wrong time.
Details of the agreements were not immediately released.
Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15 did not return calls for comment.
|A strike of crane operators across New York City is looming.|
City developers are gearing up for a possible crane operator strike on Friday that could bring $10 billion in construction projects across the city to a screeching halt.
Threatened are scores of projects including such high-profile sites as the Nets arena in Brooklyn, the 34-story Gem Tower in midtown's Diamond District and the Weill-Cornell Medical Research Building on E. 69th St., according to the Real Estate Board of New York, a developers lobbying group.
A strike could also halt or slow construction on as much as $1 billion in public-sector projects, much of it school construction.
Insiders said a walkout at the Sept. 11 Memorial is unlikely but other Ground Zero sites could be hit.
"They'd be lunatics to strike at the Sept. 11 Memorial," one source linked to developers said. "Their members would lose a fortune and it would be a public relations nightmare, but nobody knows about the other towers."