Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Union trying to lure away members of New York's District Council of Carpenters

But many leaders of the breakaway Amalgamated Carpenters & Joiners were themselves kicked out of the District Council and its locals

By Greg B. Smith 

Clockwise from top right: Joseph Firth, Charles Harkin, John Harkin and  John Holt.

The breakaway Amalgamated Carpenters & Joiners union is trying to lure away members of the city’s biggest construction union, the District Council of Carpenters, but many of Amalgamated’s leaders were themselves kicked out of the District Council and its locals, charged with spending union funds on personal perks, records show.

The District Council — which has a long, sordid history of mob control and corruption — is now operating under a court order in which the union is monitored by review officer Dennis Walsh, who is investigating whether Amalgamated is simply a ruse to escape court oversight.

An attorney for Amalgamated, Angelo Bisceglie, called Walsh’s fears “total nonsense” and defended the upstart union. “There's a long history of corruption in that union. We're trying to get away from that,” he said. “Dennis Walsh can make all the allegations he wants, but we’re going to play by the letter of the law.”

Records show several of Amalgamated’s leaders had been drummed out of the District Council. Here’s the lineup:

Joseph Firth, Amalgamated’s president, was fired as president of carpenter’s Local 608 in 2010 amid charges that he’d rigged hiring lists to get cronies jobs at Ground Zero. He’s banned from holding office with the District Council or the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, for 10 years — a ban that wouldn’t apply to Amalgamated. Firth said his firing was “political,” adding, “I didn't do anything criminal or wrong or anything.”

Charles Harkin resigned as president of Local 1456 while under investigation for racking up unapproved expenses and ringing up $1,500 to $3,000 monthly dinners at Marinella in Manhattan. His case is before the union’s trial committee. The union’s lawyer said Harkin wasn’t involved in Amalgamated, but sources said he made calls behind the scenes on behalf of the group.

John Harkin showed up at a job site recently with Eric Gundersen to leaflet District Council workers. Harkin retired from the District Council a year ago, but is facing a union trial for spending union funds on lavish meals, limo services, trips to Florida and $20,000 in golf green fees. He, too, called the chargeds “political” and said he was following rules about expenses that the union used for years.

John Holt is listed in records as secretary of Amalgamated. His appointment as business agent for District Council was vetoed in September 2010 after Walsh found Holt had obstructed his investigation and gave false answers to questions.

The union’s lawyer, Bisceglie, noted, “We have probably 30 to 50 other people in good standing who've been very active in getting out the vote. You can't just focus on a few.”


  1. George Santayana said it best, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

  2. The photos and caption are out of sync.

  3. photos and caption corrected, thanks.

  4. Joey are you still beating your wife?

  5. BALDIE LOCKS! HA...HA...HA... Couldn't have happen to a BIGGER CHUMP!!!


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