Sunday, February 26, 2012

Contractors Urge Carpenters to Vote Yes on Contracts

Click to enlarge.
Contractor members of the Association of Wall-Ceiling and Carpentry Industries (WC&C) are waging a campaign style effort to try to convince carpenters to vote yes on a new five (5) year contract.

On February 24, Ronsco President, Lee R. Zaretzky, included a letter in the weekly pay envelope of all employees. The letter obtain by 157blospot says the "NYC District Council of Carpenters (Council) is submitting the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated between the WC&C and the Council for ratification by vote of the rank and file members of the union."

"Our company is strongly urging our valued employees to vote Yes to ratify the agreement."

On January 10, a clerical gaffe by leaders of the national carpenters union forced Council Delegates to table a vote on several labor contracts that they had hoped to push through before a new braintrust is installed.

The Council, which has been run by its national parent since its chief was jailed following a 2009 racketeering scandal, has elected new leadership last year as it moves to regain its independence.

On February 8th, the new leadership and delegate body, in an historic vote, voted unanimously to allow the union's members to have final say on a series of five contracts negotiated with contractor associations.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carpenters Sue Building Trades

On February 21, 2012 The Carpenters filed a complaint in federal court seeking damages and equitable relief against the Building and Construction Trades Department.

The “Carpenters” (as specified below) are suing the Building and Construction Trades Department (“BCTD”) and individual Defendants for resulting violent threats and devastating unlawful attacks have directly and proximately caused concrete financial injuries in violation of Pub.L.No. 91-452, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq., and Rev. Code Wash. § 9A.82.080, et seq.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Union membership in NY slips to new low

Unions now have the smallest percentage of the New York workforce since it was first measured in 1989. But it's still the highest in the nation.

By Daniel Masse 

Union membership in New York declined for the second straight year in 2011, hitting its lowest point since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping state records in 1989, federal officials reported Wednesday.

Last year, 24.1% of wage and salary workers in New York belonged to a union, down from 24.2% a year earlier. Union membership in the state peaked in 1991 at 29.1% and has been on a downward trajectory ever since.

“It's a continuation of a long-term trend,” said Martin Kohli, regional economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Manufacturing jobs have gone away and they've only been partially offset by the rise in public-sector unionization.”

D.A.’s Crane Blame


One man’s greed cost two men’s lives, Manhattan prosecutors said yesterday of the millionaire construction magnate blamed for the 2008 fatal tower- crane collapse on East 91st Street.

 “A wealthy man was concerned about the bottom line and nothing else,” Assistant District Attorney Eli Cherkasky said in opening statements in the manslaughter trial of James Lomma, owner of New York Crane and Equipment, one of the northeast’s biggest owners of the behemoth cranes needed for high-rise construction.

As families for the tragedy’s two slain workers watched in tears from the crowded audience, prosecutors called Lomma an already-rich construction renegade who cut corners and dodged regulators on a critical repair so he could further grow his wealth.

“The weld was failing even before it left China,” Cherkasky told the judge who will decide Lomma’s case, referring to microscopic fissures in a bargain-basement, inadequately welded replacement bearing that cracked apart after only a month in service, sending the crane’s massive cab and boom plummeting 140 feet.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jackhammers welcome at stalled development

Construction of the log-stalled Tulfan Terrace, at 3620 Oxford Ave., is expected to be completed by early next year.
By Adam Wisnieski

Construction on Riverdale’s eyesore of the decade, Tulfan Terrace, may finally be completed by January 2013.

What happens after that? Nobody knows.

Michael Goldberg, one of the owners of Ox-3620 LLC, said he is unsure whether the building’s 30 units will be up for sale or for rent. He cited the condo market’s precarious condition as the reason for his open mind on the subject.

His LLC bought the unfinished tower out of foreclosure in 2010 after cleaning up the financial mess left behind four years earlier by its previous mobbed-up owners All 30 units have three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and include terraces.

Construction on the 20-story building began in 2004, but misdeeds — and the feds — caught up with one of the owners, James Murray. Construction ceased in 2006 when Mr. Murray, also the project’s chief financier, was taken down on fraud and embezzlement charges related to another Riverdale development project — the Cambridge Mews — located at 3536 Cambridge Ave. His partners were left without enough capital to complete Tulfan Terrace and the building fell into foreclosure. Its hollow frame was left untouched for years.

Mr. Murray was charged with embezzling money from benefit funds, scheming to defraud the District Council and evading federal financial reporting requirements. He has since testified against former trustee of the New York City Carpenters Union, Joseph Olivieri, and was allowed to walk away from his own charges in June.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Investigation into NYC affordable housing

By Jim Hoffer

NEW YORK (WABC) -- From the outside, the building constructed under the Mayor's affordable housing initiative looks brand new.

"All down here, couch is wet part of ceiling," said Jim Hoffer, Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter.

"Yes, yes in living room bedrooms. Four years we've been going through this," said Max Ramirez, Bronx resident.

Inside though, apartments Eyewitness News visited appear to be falling apart.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Labor Pains

Union Protesters Elicit Varied Reactions in Lower Manhattan

Members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYDC) protesting across from the 

Holiday Inn construction site at 99 Washington Street where only non-union workers have been hired.
Lower Manhattan lives with the sights and sounds of construction on a daily basis, but the conditions under which its construction workers labor are largely hidden from outside eyes. Two ongoing protests drew attention this week to a central factor in any construction project: hiring practices.

As construction on the future Holiday Inn at 99 Washington Street ramped up in January, the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYDC) began regularly picketing Casino Concrete, a subcontractor on Cava Construction's hotel project, for using non-union labor. The NYDC has been demonstrating on-and-off for the last year, because they say the project's developer, Sam Chang, reneged on a project labor agreement that stipulates that only union laborers would be used. Casino Concrete did not respond to requests for comment.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bilello Letter Contract Vote

Union carpenters get a new tool: Voting rights

Rank-and-file carpenters will get to vote on their contracts for the first time in their union's history. The question now: Will the deals go through?

By Daniel Massey

Rank-and-file carpenters will get to vote on their contracts for the first time in their union's history, just one month after new leaders took over the organization promising to make it more transparent.

The delegate body of the 25,000-member New York City District Council of Carpenters voted unanimously Wednesday night to allow the union's members to have final say on a series of five contracts negotiated with contractor associations last year.

“We decided that the best way to go forward was for rank-and-file ratification of the contract,” said Mike Bilelo, the union's new executive secretary-treasurer. “It's something I campaigned on. It's part of the transparency of the new district council, the desire for us to put control of the organization back in the hands of the membership.”

A clerical gaffe by leaders of the national carpenters union, which ran the District Council until earlier this year, forced them to table a delegates' vote on the five contracts, which leaders had hoped to push through before the new brain trust was installed.

“We've been in limbo,” said John DeLollis, executive director of the Association of Wall-Ceiling and Carpentry Industries. “At least we're coming to a vote and we'll know where we are. It's very difficult to run a business when you don't know what it's going to cost the next year or the year after.”

Mr. DeLollis said he believed there was a 50-50 chance the contracts would pass. He said contractors would step up efforts to educate employees on the deals and why they should be approved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Contract Update: Rank and File to Vote on Contracts

Breaking News: Just got back from the Delegate Body meeting where the Delegate Body in an historic vote, voted to have the rank and file ratify the collective bargaining agreements by mail in ballot, conducted by the American Arbitration Association. Will post more details about this historic vote later...stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Open Letter to EST Bilello from John Musumeci

Dear Mr. Bilello:

I write in response to malicious statements made and continue to be made against me by your assistant and request a written and public apology by President Lebo.

I have been informed that Mr. Lebo in response to a question at a Local 45 union meeting on January 31, acknowledged responsibility for a “procedural error” on the “motion"to bar members from attending delegate body meetings” and then suggested a rational to bar members.

Citing Amalgamated and the contract negotiations, Lebo singled me out by name as a security risk, alleged I was responsible for the January 10, Crain’s article, “In blow to contractors, gaffe stalls union vote,” he implied I was responsible for the threats of legal action against the District Council by contractor associations and stated he had “written up charges against me” and threatened me in his office. He then said he didn’t file the charges because of “free speech” issues but indicated he may file charges at a later date, saying, “The charges are still in my desk.”

According to one Local 45 member present: "Lebo imputed Musumeci as being detrimental to the health of the union and members." 

What kind of game is this, do you intend to run your administration by taking credit when things go right, avoid responsibility, retaliate and find someone else to blame when things go wrong?

Job Opportunities at the District Council

Please read about two job openings at the District Council below.

Director of Communications

We are a non-profit organization located in downtown Manhattan.
We are seeking a Director of Communications to report to our Director of Operations.  The Director of Communications will design and direct our external and internal communications strategy.  This position is a hands-on role which involves extensive interaction with our members as well as our staff.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Attention Members

Delegate Meeting scheduled for Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 5PM in the Labor Technical College, 2nd floor Common Room.

Full Employment — For Now

Rebuilding the World Trade Center brings jobs to ironworkers, but not forever

Terry Moore, business manager; John Skinner, president and
George Fernandez, recording secretary for Local 46

By Bendix Anderson, LaborPress Senior Editor

One World Trade Center is now easily visible from much of Manhattan and Brooklyn, towering more than 90 stories over the City.

Full employment has returned to unions like the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, thanks almost entirely to the work of rebuilding. More than a third of Local 46’s members now work at Ground Zero. But the project is now at its peak, and will be finished in a few years. To create new construction jobs for union workers, Local 46 has joined with the rest of the building trades to negotiate project labor agreements that offer concession to developers in return for commitments to build union.

“We’ve got hard decisions to make,” said Terry Moore, the new business manager for Local 46.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Indiana gov. signs right-to-work bill, state becomes Rust Belt’s 1st to enact labor union law

By Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is the first Rust Belt state to enact the contentious right-to-work labor law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees, after Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate approved the measure a few hours earlier Wednesday, following weeks of discord that saw House Democrats boycott the Legislature and thousands of protesters gather at the Statehouse.

“Seven years of evidence and experience ultimately demonstrated that Indiana did need a right-to-work law to capture jobs for which, despite our highly rated business climate, we are not currently being considered,” Daniels said in a statement. A spokeswoman said he would not take questions on the measure Wednesday.

Indiana is the first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to make Indiana the Rust Belt’s first right-to-work state, passing legislation that prohibits labor contracts requiring workers to pay union representation fees.

Thousands of union members gathered inside the Statehouse chanted “Shame on you!” and “See you at the Super Bowl!” as the vote was announced. Thousands more amassed outside for a rally that spilled into the Indianapolis streets, already bustling with Super Bowl festivities, hoping to point a national spotlight on the state.