Thursday, February 9, 2012

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.

The contracts contain a so-called market-recovery rate, which would give contractors a 20% discount on hotel and certain residential work. And they include a controversial “full mobility” provision that would to enable contractors to select any member of the union to work for them; the current system compels them to hire at least one-third of their workers via union referrals.

Mr. Bilelo would not indicate whether he was in favor of the contract, saying he did not want to “taint the process.” He campaigned vigorously against full mobility, but it might be to his benefit to have the contracts pass. He would not be blamed for deals that he did not negotiate and would not face the prospect of messy, complicated negotiations for new deals so early in his tenure.

Simply allowing the votes helps Mr. Bilelo's standing with his members because it involves them in the process.

The deals were agreed to by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which assumed stewardship of the historically-troubled union after its chief was jailed following a 2009 racketeering scandal.

“It's a good move,” said Dennis Walsh, a monitor appointed by the federal government to oversee the operations of the scandal-plagued union. “I think it's the most direct way to see what the rank and file feel about all of these provisions in these contracts. It's a positive step and it will get the rank and file involved in determining the course that's best for their future.”


  1. A well deserved Vote which is long overdue and which is required by the NLRA Sect. 7 and free association rights.

    The Preamble to the NLRA best explains this delicate balance and the evening of the playing field relative to Contract Negotiations for Wages, Hours, Terms & Conditions of Employment.

    The rank & file members predict that the MOU's negotiated by McCarron & Spencer will go down in flames, resulting in their having to actually sit down and bargain the right way.

    Contractors and their Associations and Doug McCarron fear that the most. No doubt Contractors will continue their in-house brainwashing of Company men and other scare tactics & intimidation techniques which they have long perfected.

    TIME FOR THE RANK & FILE to STEP UP and to VOTE NO on every contract proposed to date.

    Hey Doug, how do you like us now?....yeah, yeah we know, I hate that guy....right back at ya!!

  2. we only have 22,000 members not 25,000. 15,000 active and 7000 retired members.


    1. "EST Bilello, Daniel Massey is calling from Crain's; will you take the call?"

      Remember... in the not to faraway past... when President Lebo lost his mind over a story published by Crain's, in which details about a delegate meeting were reported?

      Lebo must reealllyy be mad now, with the highest office at the District Council succumbing to the lure of bright lights, big media. Forget about Musumeci, time to start writing a new round of charges!


      Carpenters should be treated the same way and not be subjected to different standards.

  4. Can someone tell me why Bilello-Lebo didn't move to renegotiate the CBAs, prior to scheduling a ratification vote? Now the membership will pay out a huge sum to American Arbitration for a vote on fatally flawed contracts negotiated by Spencer-McCarron, and possibly, out of frustration, apathy, and cynicism, ratify them. Is Bilello kicking it down to the rank-and-file because he can do no better and is afraid of calling for a strike? The Rank and File Team ran on a platform against Full Mobility, but they just served it to the membership, like steaming dog feces on a silver platter.

  5. Last Supper:

    Beef its whats for DINNER: PETA(People Eating Tasty Animals)....hey, are you sayin the members are gonna be eating crap if they Vote Yes for these Contracts?

    WOULD HAVE TO AGREE THERE....after you clean the Silver Platter, can I have it...Wanna CASH IT IN, languishing on the OWL but I'm still VOTING NO!

    You can't kick the can down the road, it could create a spark & Ignite a Wildfire and that would increase Global Warming down in Washington DC. (yeah, he banned that too, it's now illegal)

    Doug's having fits about now (This is my Union Damn It, there will be No Voting in my Union...WTF is in the water up there in NYC, Spencer, get your butt in here, I want answers) and your complaining about the Right to VOTE up or down on your Contract?

    "Does anyone ever say NO to DOUG"...

    direct quote from Teddy Kennedy at the 2005 Gen. Convention...appears so, appears so, Spencer, get in here I want a report on my desk on that water situation in New York

  6. After we were all stonewalled about Mike being the members savior he turned around and stuck it in our ass leaving him without having any liability in the contract ratification "leaving it to the members to decide" nice going mike!! instead of having the backbone to say no to it himself, and leaving him open to hearing ridicule from both ends. you can see from the past how voting went. The contractors will win holding it over the mens head like a carrot. and Mike will be smelling like a rose saying it wasnt my doing you the members voted on it!

    As stated in the 157 blogspot "Mr. DeLollis (executive director of the Association of Wall-Ceiling and Carpentry Industries) 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." TRANSLATION: We'll tell you how to vote and maybe keep you working, you'll vote FULL MOBILITY or look elsewhere for work!!

  7. 20% CUTS IN PAY.helper scrapper low wage pre apprentices.FULL MOBILITY(no more out of work list).A NEW POLICE PRECINT INSIDE THE company control over the unions main function.THAT IS WHAT THE RANK AND FILE WILL BE VOTING ON.YOU ARE EITHER FOR IT,OR AGAINST IT. i am for welfare for the rich,and the continued loyalty of our B.As to the companies and MC Carron.The companies should be paying them more for their loyalty,dedication and total disregard for the regular hard working union paying member.In all,we will be voting on WELFARE FOR THE RICH,AND THEIR REPS.THE REDUCTION OF OUR WAGES,AND THE TOTAL CONTROL OF THE COMPANIES OVER OUR FUTURE.I CHOOSE FULL MOBILITY BECAUSE


  8. Yes , they have a new tool. But no one knows how to use it.


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