Tuesday, July 31, 2012


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 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. Please have your current union or employee identification cards ready for presentation at the door to gain admission.

Dennis M. Walsh
Review Officer

Monday, July 30, 2012


Insanity, that's the word to best describe what happen at last Wednesdays delegate body meeting.

Heil Lebo!!

During questioning, on the MWA crisis, NYC District Council EST Mike Bilello and President Bill Lebo, became unhinged, allowed members of the delegate body to disrupt the meeting, and moved to file charges against me, allegedly for revealing "strategy," by posting the names of newly hired "outside attorneys" on this blog.

The circumstances that occurred are as follows.

During questioning of Biello, specifically on the MWA crisis, I asked, how did you come to make the decision to take the MWA to arbitration and why didn't you inform the delegate body of that decision?

Bilello stated that he, "didn't put much thought" into going into arbitration, and "did not think it was a big issue"at the time.

When questioned further and stating, that the arbitrator issued her decision on May 3, 2012, and on July 16, (three days before a schedule hearing) you called for an "emergency" electronic vote to "hire outside attorneys" to assist you...I asked, why did you wait so long to hire outside attorneys and why has there been no communication to the membership on this MWA crisis?

Bilello, instead of simply answering the question, became enraged, and in an attempt to intimidate and humiliate, shouted:

"You just don't get it! You think you're a journalist for the New York Times, why don't you go work there, this is the NYC District Council!"

Partisan delegates, incited by the comments, heckled and interrupted me from speaking.

President Lebo, did absolutely nothing to stop the heckling or call the meeting to order.

Instead, Lebo acting in a partisan way, aggravated the situation, interrupted Bilello, and grabbed the microphone and screamed:

"You ruined our strategy! We wanted to surprise the MWA with our new attorneys and you ruined it!"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Contract Negotiations Update

John Delollis. Executive Director
John Delollis, Director of the Wall & Ceiling Association (WC&C), was invited to address the delegate body on Wednesday July 25th and present the WC&C proposals for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Mr. Delollis proposed basically the same proposal he gave the executive committee back in June.

The four major issues the WC&C want are:
  • Full Mobility with only NYCDC members 50/50 with all outsiders.
  • No pay differential for shift work.
  • Eliminate the half day work for full days pay for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. These days to remain as regular work days.
  • Allow two man jobs without the assignment of a shop steward.
In exchange for these four items the WC&C has offered a wage and benefit increase of $13.13 per hour = 15.4% total for 5 years.

Carpenters have been working without a contract since June 30, 2011. The terms and conditions of our previous contracts have been extended to July 31, 2012. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Con Ed lockout ends as storm looms

With a push from the governor, the utility and the union representing its 8,500 locked-out workers agreed Thursday afternoon on a new contract. 

By Daniel Massey

Consolidated Edison Inc. and its locked-out union workers reached a new, four-year contract Thursday afternoon, ending a 26-day standoff hours before a severe storm was expected to hit the New York City area.

After weeks of tough negotiations, both sides credited Gov. Andrew Cuomo with changing the tone of the talks Thursday when he called them into his office to discuss the potential impact the storm could have on electrical service.

Con Ed and Local 1-2 had made some progress with the help of federal mediators, but both the company and union said that Mr. Cuomo's intervention Thursday helped to bring about the deal. Neither side would immediately release details of the agreement.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Transparent Hypocrisy

Here we go again, Hypocrisy, thy name is Mike Bilello and Bill Lebo.

At last night's delegate body meeting, EST Bilello and President Lebo, became unhinged, were foaming from the mouth, incited members of the delegate body against me, because they are uncomfortable with the speed of information posted (Free Speech) on this blog, and moved to file charges against me for violating the obligation.

I will have a lot more to say later, for now read the following excerpt from the letter that Bill Lebo sent to Judge Richard Berman, February 26, 2011.

"Lastly I want to convey to you the importance of transparency in the Councils governance. In the past, even after the “restructuring” we went through in 1998, there has been a distinct lack of information disseminated to the membership, and even to the delegates in regards to the Councils activities. The membership has not gotten any information on contract negotiations, corruption, by-law changes, or any other matters of import until these matters were over and done.

We need a system in place whereby the membership can take part in these matters of import. A system, whereby the delegates to the council, can bring back to the members of locals at monthly local union meeting, issues that need to be dealt with. Then the membership can debate said issues and vote on them, direct the delegates on how the membership wants them to vote, or have said delegates ask questions on these issues.

Even now, with the Council in trusteeship everything seems to be a secret. The UBC has kept the membership in the dark on issues of importance, ie., contract negotiations,(that we, not they will have to work under), the dissolution of locals, the full mobility issue, and more.

On February 23, 2011, the R.O. Dennis Walsh held a forum at the District council that all members were invited to. At this forum Mr. Walsh gave us more information than we have gotten since the onset of the trusteeship, in fact more than we’ve gotten in the past 12 years. I have to applaud Mr. Walsh for the professional way he handled himself at this forum, and for the extraordinary job he is doing. It is my opinion that his tenure should be extended for a long, long period after the Council is placed back into the hands of this membership. He has proved, at least to me, that, he actually cares about the rights and well being of the membership of the NYCDCC’s."

Respectfully submitted,
William S. Lebo

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Contract Negotiations Update

John Delollis. Executive Director
This afternoon the following email was sent to the District Council Executive Committee in response to extending an invitation to John Delollis, to present the Wall & Ceiling Association’s proposals for the Collective Bargaining Agreement to the Delegate Body.

Subject: Re: Special Guest

This email should be treated as an official communication and read into the record at the next Delegate Body meeting.

Gentleman: The decision by the Executive Committee extending an invitation to John Delollis, Director of the Wall & Ceiling Association, to present the Wall & Ceiling Association’s proposals for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) completely undermines the committee's primary responsibility for negotiating, and recommending to the Council Delegate Body for approval, all CBA's.

Is the Delegate Body upon hearing said proposal now the negotiators with Mr. Delollis?

This invitation to Mr. Delollis, is in complete violation of the procedures clearly outlined in the District Councils Bylaws and undermines the spirit in which the bylaws were written, and violates among others,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Contract Negotiations Update

The Executive Committee has extended an invitation to John Delollis, Director of the Wall & Ceiling Association, to present the Wall & Ceiling Association’s proposals for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

John will be attending the Delegate Meeting taking place on Wednesday July 25th, 2012 at 5:00pm on the 10h Floor of the District Council , to present said proposals.

EST Mike Bilello and John Delollis extended the terms and conditions of our previous contracts until July 31, 2012. The contracts expired June 30, 2011, but an “evergreen clause” keeps them in effect for one year.

Also the Manufacturing Woodworking Association (MWA) will begin contract talks Thursday, July 26th.

Page Six

We hear...THAT Human Resources Director of the Benefits Funds, Ralph Chetcuti was suspended today pending an investigation.

Friday we reported that the Board of Trustees terminated Joesph Epstein as Executive Director of the Benefit Funds. Sources say Epstein allegedly misappropriated union funds to support his own personal interests.

The District Council or Benefit Funds office did not respond to a request for comment or issue any official statement

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Transparent Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy, thy name is Mike Bilello and Bill Lebo.

Before the December 2011 District Council elections, candidates Bilello and Lebo, said they believe in "members rights, real communication and full transparency," they wrote: 

"Members have the right to full transparency of the Council’s actions. This requires real communication between the officers of the council and the membership."

"Members have the right to full information before crucial decisions are made so that they can voice their concerns and wishes to their delegates before the final decisions are made."

" Members have the right to know how their delegates vote for them."

" By giving the members real voices, real information, and genuine transparency, so that they know their voices have been heard, the members will be able to hold their delegates and the Council’s officers accountable. "

Amazingly, both EST Bilello and President Lebo once elected and sworn into office have communicated hardly any information to the membership and have become one of the most secretive administrations we've seen.

This is especially ironic considering their vow to lead an "open and transparent administration."

Has that actually happened? Hardly.

Across the board, since day one, this administration is arguably secretive, consider the following:

  • Bilello has not communicated a single word putting forward a clear vision for this union. 
  • Other than posting the results of the contract ratification vote, Bilello has not communicated a single word about our contracts.
  • Bilello and Lebo supported the barring of the Delegate Body "membership gallery." 
  • There has been a virtual news blackout on the MWA Arbitration situation, "a grave and imminent crisis."
  • Weekly, our shop stewards continue to be kept in the dark, receiving hardly any communication.
  • Despite the membership having to pay an assessment to fund a communications fund, the hiring of a new communications director, the promise of a new District Council website and Carpenter magazine, the membership has received nothing in return for their hard earned dollars.
To be sure, we have no "real communication or transparency" from this administration, and this adminstration remains secretive.

Special Meeting Notice: MWA Arbitration Crisis

From Fraternal Order of Woodworkers 

This Thursday July 26, 2012 at 5:00 PM we are calling all New York City District Council Woodworkers to come to a special meeting to discuss the recent Manufacturing Woodworkers Association crisis.

Some greedy contractors who we have been working for many years feel we should be working harder for substantially lower wages. As union woodworkers, we have been making these same employers very wealthy providing the most skilled craftsmen and women that are available. This is how they show their appreciation and expect us to accept these low wages because one of our past corrupt leaders made a shady deal. They have no class, respect and honor towards the members of this great union.

For too long we have been taken advantage of and this has got to stop now.

The inside shop members and outside installers need to unite and stand tall together. We need information and we need it now! Please tell any carpenter you know to attend this open meeting to find out the facts and what our options are to protect our future. You owe it to your family and to all carpenters who walk in your footsteps.

We will be having this meeting at 5:00 PM on Thursday, July 26th, 2012 on the second floor at 395 Hudson Street, Labor Technical School.

We urge all brothers and sisters to get involved to show the MWA contractors and our leaders we are here and we are ready to fight in what ever way we find necessary to protect our craft.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Statement from the Review Officer regarding the MWA Arbitration

Review Officer Dennis Walsh posted the following message on the District Councils web site late Friday afternoon.

The members of this Union face a grave and imminent crisis.

As you may know, Arbitrator Townley has previously found in favor of the MWA in its arbitration claim that its MFN clause entitles MWA employers to receive the same terms granted to Gilbert Displays by the Forde Administration in 2009.

MWA contractors have relied on the decision to unilaterally cut compensation to members.

Yesterday morning in a proceeding at the American Arbitration Association, the MWA claimed its damages were $59 million based on the Gilbert Displays deal. That is approximately $9 million more than the total assets of the District Council.

A strategy for the District Council to effectively prevent such a devastating outcome was revealed yesterday.  It in part involved the retention of additional attorneys (Paul Schectman, Steve Cohen and Irwin Rochman).

The strategy is entirely consistent with and fosters the purpose and goals of the Consent Decree and Stipulation and Order.

Friday, July 20, 2012

MWA Arbitration Update

MWA claims damages of $59 million based on the Gilbert/Sheil's shady deal, a sum that exceeds the total assets of the District Council.

New York City District Council of Carpenters officers EST Michael Bilello, President Bill Lebo, Vice-President Michael Cavanaugh, Benefit Fund Trustee Paul Tyznar, and General Counsel James Murphy, were greeted by a group of angry rank and fliers outside the American Arbitration Association offices at 1633 Broadway yesterday morning as they appeared for a schedule 10:00 am hearing.

The rank and fliers, mostly Carpenter Millwork installers employed by Manufacturing Woodworking Association (MWA) contractors Rimi, Nordic, Midhattan, among others were there to send a message protesting MWA bosses unilateral cuts in their hourly fringe benefit rate from $38.88 to $10.94.

We reported that on May 3, 2012 the MWA won in arbitration a lawsuit it brought against the District Council, having to do with a shady deal made in 2009 by Dennis Sheil, (former disgraced Vice President of the corrupt Forde administration) with a company called Gilbert Displays, Inc,  (an out-of-association contractor) that sets the wage and benefit package for journeymen employees at a rate lower than that in the July 1, 2007 - June 30, 2012 agreement with the MWA.

The Arbitrator (Rosemary A. Townley) found in favor of the MWA's arbitration claim, that its "most favored nations" clause entitles MWA employers to receive the same terms granted by the Gilbert/Sheil shady deal.

Last month the MWA bosses used that decision to unilaterally cut the hourly fringe benefit rates to all shop and outside installers to $10.94.

Benefit Funds Director Fired

Breaking News...This Just In. The Board of Trustees has terminated Mr. Joesph Epstein as Executive Director of the Benefit Funds. Epstein was hired in July 2011, and has restructured the Funds’ office and filled most key positions.

According to Review Officer Dennis Walsh, Epstein has "particularly focused on achieving cost efficiencies, and has presented to the Trustees an estimate of savings of approximately $5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012."

It is expected the Board will issues a statement by Monday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MWA Arbitration Update: Electronic Emergency Vote

In an unprecedented move, the Bilello administration sent an email to the Delegate Body on Monday July 16, at 6:05 pm calling for an immediate "emergency vote" to "hire outside attorneys to assist the District Council in resisting the recent arbitration award involving the MWA’s most favored nations provision."

"Please respond immediately to this email with your agreement or disagreement of this recommendation."

Never before in the history of the UBC has a District Council voted in this manner.

We reported that on May 3, 2012 the Manufacturing Woodworking Association (MWA) won in arbitration a lawsuit it brought against the District Council, having to do with a sweetheart deal made in 2009 by Dennis Sheils, (former disgraced Vice President of the corrupt Forde administration).

Just days before the August 5, 2009 arrest of District Council EST Michael Forde and nine others - including two mob associates - and charged with taking $1 million in bribes to let contractors cheat workers of wages and benefits, Sheil signed a new contract agreement on behalf of the District Council with a company called Gilbert Displays, Inc,  (an out-of-association contractor) that sets the wage and benefit package for journeymen employees at a rate lower than that in the July 1, 2007 - June 30, 2012 agreement with the MWA.

The MWA claims that under the "most favored nations provision" it is entitled to a refund of tens of millions of dollars paid to the Benefit Funds and last month cut the benefit rate paid on all employees to the $10.94 per hour Gilbert benefit rate.

In Monday's email, District Council Executive Officers, EST Michael Bilello, President Bill Lebo, and Vice-President Michael Cavanaugh recommend that outside attorneys Steve Cohen and Paul Shechtman of the firm Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP and Irwin Rochman of the firm Tesser, Ryan and Rochman LLP be retained immediately.

"Due to timing set by federal laws we need you to vote by this emergency process which has been approved by the Review Officer."

The attorneys have agreed to undertake this legal representation for a total flat fee of $150,000.00, including any and all appeals.

An informed source inside the council said we are still receiving votes but so far "everyone that has voted has voted yes with the exception of one."

Local 57 Delegate Greg Kelty, in response to the "emergency vote," wrote among other things, "Absolutely not! We have a set of By-laws that need to be followed. You, the Executive Officers of this District Council have had more than enough time to bring this issue to the delegate body."

"Where in the by-laws does it give you or Dennis Walsh the authority to circumvent the NYCDCC by-laws?"


The following was emailed to EST Bilello on Tuesday July 17, Bob has requested that I post it.

Please read the attachment, with post scripted addition, titled > To: EST & Pres. 17 July 2012 as it is in regard to the Notice of Emergency Electronic Delegate Vote.

If I speak of what I know not, and I caution the Executive Body, it isn't just I that thinks this way, but for the lack of that which is unknown is singularly due to one reason, - the lack of transparency and involvement with the complete roster of Delegates and Membership of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, as has been fatally exhibited in this case by the Executive Body.

A timely response is requested.

Update: MWA Arbitration Ruling - Demonstration

Meet with affected Carpenters and show your support in front of the American Arbitration Association, 1633 Broadway (Btw. 50th & 51st Streets) at 9am Thursday July 19, for a scheduled hearing before the arbitrator .

Print out handout.
The Manufacturing Woodworkers Association (MWA) actions last month were nothing short of reprehensible. They displayed unbridled contempt for their loyal employees. Instead of continuing to bargain in good faith to resolve the arbitration issue, MWA President Anthony Rizzo, (also President of Rimi Woodcraft) instructed all association contractors to cut the hourly fringe benefit rate of ALL shop employees, and outside installers, to $10.94.

New York City District Council of Carpenters signatory contractors, RIMI, Nordic, EMI, Miller-Blaker, Midhattan, Tobin Woodworking, Somerville, among others, (see complete list) cut the benefit contribution rate for shop workers and outside installers (currently at $18.07 and $38.88 per hour) to $10.94 per hour!

The Council will "dispute the arbitrators decision" and present questions which will involve the calculation of the "damages" caused to MWA employers by the Gilbert agreement. The Council will have an opportunity to demonstrate the terrible effect of her decision on the membership and possibly have her resolve them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unions rally in NYC in support of Con Ed workers

Photo taken by Demian Schroeder
Hundreds of union members have been rallying in Manhattan in support of locked out Consolidated Edison workers.

Tuesday's festive rally was held in Union Square as another heat wave blanketed New York City.

The Con Ed workers were locked out on June 30 after their contract expired and negotiations over a new one failed. About 5,000 managers are keeping electricity going for 3.2 million customers in New York City and Westchester County. Talks between the utility and its largest union resumed on Monday.

Neither Con Ed nor the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 has indicated any real progress.

Union spokesman John Melia says the company "bowed to public pressure" in reinstating health insurance for the 8,500 locked-out workers. Workers are covered for July, retroactively.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flintlock: The outsiders

How the Weiss brothers built NY's dominant nonunion contractor.

Weiss work--and they can get it: Flintlock Construction's Andrew Weiss (crouching, left) and brother Stephen Weiss (right) have nine 20-story-plus building projects in Manhattan
By Daniel Massey 

Last month, a boom truck lifted hundreds of metal studs toward the top of a 27-story hotel under construction at Lexington Avenue and East 45th Street. Blocks away, a backhoe clawed into the earth on West 42nd Street, digging a hole for a 37-story hotel. Just to the south, on West 30th Street, workers unloaded steel rods that will reinforce the concrete structure of what will be a 22-story Courtyard by Marriott.

Construction of three 20-plus-story buildings in the city within a few blocks of each other might seem to be no big deal. But all three hotels are being built by Flintlock Construction Services—and all three are being built using nonunion labor. A decade ago, it would have been virtually unheard of for a nonunion firm to land even one job in Manhattan of 20 stories or more. Unions had a firmer lock on the industry, and nonunion builders did not have the expertise to handle large, complex projects.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Update: MWA Arbitration Ruling - Contractors Cut Benefits by $27.94

VP Dennis Sheil
The Manufacturing Woodworkers Association (MWA) actions last month were nothing short of reprehensible. They displayed unbridled contempt for their loyal employees. Instead of continuing to bargain in good faith to resolve the arbitration issue, MWA President Anthony Rizzo, (also President of Rimi Woodcraft) instructed all association contractors to cut the hourly fringe benefit rate of ALL shop employees, and outside installers, to $10.94.

New York City District Council of Carpenters signatory contractors, RIMI, Nordic, EMI, Miller-Blaker, Midhattan, Tobin Woodworking, Somerville, among others, (see complete list) cut the benefit contribution rate for shop workers and outside installers (currently at $18.07 and $38.88 per hour) to $10.94 per hour!


Just days before the August 5, 2009 arrest of District Council EST Michael Forde and nine others - including two mob associates - and charged with taking $1 million in bribes to let contractors cheat workers of wages and benefits, his corrupt partner, Vice President Denis Sheil, signed a new contract agreement on behalf of the District Council with a company called Gilbert Displays, Inc, that sets the wage and benefit package for journeymen employees at a rate lower than that in the July 1, 2007 - June 30, 2012 agreement with the MWA.

We reported that Sheil abruptly retired and left the Council in November 2009, after the federal government wanted to question the former corrupt "Unity Team" partner, sources say he advised his lawyers that he was not in the talking mood and would have to plead the fifth if questioned.

Local157blogspot has obtain a copy of the August 2009 contract agreement, which Sheil, acting with no authority to do so, negotiated and signed.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Carpenters nail new agreement

By Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star

The latest collective agreement between Ontario carpenters and their employers is proof of how "non-traditional" bargaining works in everyone's interests, says the agency that brokered the deal.

"We're partners," said employer representative Jim Lyons, chair of the Carpenters Employers Bargaining Agency. "Carpenters are very well paid, and can make a lot of money if they're gainfully employed on a fulltime basis. In order to achieve that, we sit with them and say: 'This is what we need to be successful.' And they come to the table and work with us."

Lyons said the agreement guarantees "labour peace" for carpenters until April 2016. The key was the agency's use of the "protocol" bargaining method, he said.

This approach allows negotiations to take place well before the expiry date of the existing collective agreement, on the understanding that there will be no strike on the part of the union and no lockouts on the part of the employers.

Lyons said both sides of the negotiations recognized the importance of "continuity of supply," and the agreement was reached with an attitude of co-operation rather than opposition.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says those who knowingly violate state labor laws will face criminal charges and possible jail time

State's top lawmaker has already filed felony charges against half-dozen businesses for violations. William Mazzella of Decora Construction LLC sentenced to four months in jail after admitting he illegally paid 39 of his workers 

By Juan Gonzalez

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is sending a clear message to government contractors who bilk their workers.

From now on, those who knowingly violate state labor laws won't simply walk away with paying a fine, Schneiderman says - they'll face criminal charges and even jail time.

That's what the co-owners and a manager of a LaGuardia Airport construction firm learned the hard way this week.

William Mazzella, a supervisor for Mahopac-based Decora Construction LLC, was sentenced to four months in jail by a Putnam County judge after admitting he illegally paid 39 of his workers less than half the wages required by state law.

In addition, the firm's two owners, Francisco Tavares and Aurora Perreira, received five years of probation and were banned from government work for five years.

They also were docked $800,000 to pay restitution to workers who were cheated out of wages on both the LaGuardia project and a second housing construction contract for the city.

Decora had $1.5 million worth of work on a new aircraft fire rescue facility at LaGuardia in 2009. But instead of paying its workers the $50-to-$70 an hour in prevailing state wages it claimed to be paying, the firm only paid $18 to $25 an hour.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back in Business

From left, renderings of Baccarat Hotel and Residences in Manhattan, 388 Bridge Street in Brooklyn and 56 Leonard in Manhattan.

IN the mid-2000s, when the iPhone was still a concept and Barack Obama a United States senator, New York was awash in new condos.

Gleaming new high-rises sprang from the ground from Brighton Beach to the Bronx, and especially in Manhattan, where in terms of sheer ubiquity they seemed to rival Starbucks. That is, until 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the bottom fell out of the housing market. Luxury condos quickly lost their luster.

Now, in a move that seems to parallel the national housing recovery, the condo sector appears to be clawing its way back, according to brokers, developers and industry analysts. Workers are pouring concrete. Lenders are negotiating loans. And projects once written off as dead are coming back to life, which is stoking hopes that this comeback, unlike previous false starts, has some momentum.

“I would call it a swell,” said Stephen Kliegerman, president for new development marketing of Halstead Property. “It’s not a wave yet, but it’s certainly not a drizzle either.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scranton Mayor Wants To Pay Every City Worker Minimum Wage

By Erin Mershon

WASHINGTON -- A Pennsylvania mayor has an extreme plan to address his city's budget shortfalls: pay every public employee, including himself, minimum wage.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty announced last week his proposal to immediately and indefinitely slash the wages of the city's 398 police officers, firefighters and other public workers, from between $18 and $36 an hour to just $7.25 an hour.

The decision comes at a time when municipalities across the country have turned to austerity measures to tackle mounting debt and protect bondholders. Stockton, Calif., filed for bankruptcy last week, citing over-the-top health care costs for its city employees.

Pushed by Scranton's growing debt and the lack of city council action to address it, Doherty proposed the wage cuts in an effort to balance the budget until the city can secure a $16 million loan. He vowed to reimburse workers their back pay plus interest once the city receives the loan, but many workers have already said that without their normal paychecks, they will not be able to pay monthly bills.

The three unions representing local firefighters, police and public works employees filed a lawsuit Monday against the mayor's plan, citing the "devastating impact" the move would have on workers and castigating Doherty for failing to negotiate wages with union representatives. Under the plan, the average firefighter in Scranton would see his yearly salary drop from $55,910 to $15,080 -- below the federal poverty line for a two-person household.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Con Ed talks resume, but situation's 'grim'

The utility company's push to eliminate defined-benefit pensions for new employees is the biggest sticking point, according to locked-out workers.

By Daniel Massey

Talks resumed Tuesday afternoon between Consolidated Edison and the union representing its 8,500 locked-out workers in an effort to end a 10-day-old labor dispute.

Even as the two sides resumed bargaining for the first time since Saturday, they remained far apart on pensions, health care and wages. A spokesman for Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America called the situation "pretty grim."

The biggest point of contention is that Con Ed wants new hires to shift to a cash-balance retirement plan from a traditional defined-benefit one. The union has said that would create a two-tiered system among workers.

"You can't divide the union," said a Local 1-2 spokesman. Con Ed has said that its retirement plan would still be generous, but that it needs the changes to deal with rising costs.

Meanwhile, the union says that Con Ed has brought in replacement workers from out of state to help supplement a cadre of 5,000 managers that have been doing the jobs of the unionized workforce since the lockout began July 1.

A spokesman for Con Ed said that the company "uses contractors all year round, routinely." He said the company is using more since the lockout began, but could not immediately say how many have been brought in.

Before the negotiations began Tuesday, hundreds of workers picketed outside a Con Ed office on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Protests also continued outside Con Ed headquarters near Union Square.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review Officer's Fees to Date

Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh, has provided to the membership all invoices pertaining to the RO's office starting in June 2010.

Paragraph 8.b of the Stipulation and Order estimates the usual range of expenses at between $65,000 to $85,000 per month.

Please click the links below to view statements from the RO from June 2010 to the present and shared with all members per the direction of the RO.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

VOTE Joseph Passero for President Local Union 1556

Brothers and Sisters of Local Union 1556,

Our Local Union is at a crossroads. Ballots were sent out that did not directly address the Timbermen, Hod Hoists Carpenters, and Core Drillers. This clearly comprises our Local’s Membership as it could appear as a slight at best or an insult at worse, offending those Members not addressed directly in the first ballot.

This has necessitated another ballot mailing at an additional expense of $7,400.00. This is wasteful and underscores the lack of forethought and appropriate attention to detail in consideration of the ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP.

Once again, in the light of yet another poor performance by the present administration continuing the patterns of the past. Ask Yourself: “Should this election be Business and Usual or be the opportunity for a New Direction?”

Brothers and Sisters of Local Union 1556 this is Your ballot, Your choice, Your vote! You will decide! 2,496 Members of our Local must make a choice. You have the power to chart and create change in Local Union 1556's Future.

Transparency breeds Accountability which leads to a higher level of participation of our hard working Brothers and Sisters encouraged by such a demonstration of concern for properly informing Individual Members.

I am Joseph Passero, I ask for Your Support and Vote to bring Local Union 1556 back to the members’ control. In this, you can hold me responsible for achieving transparency of action, a cessation of wasteful spending and cronyism, and a new direction of overall integrity of our union; not “Business as Usual.”

Click here for link to my first letter published, June 11, 2012.

I will be steady, accountable, honest, and transparent. You have my word.

You can contact me about issues or concerns with our Local or the NYCDCC, my email address is thedockbuilder@gmail.com my phone number is 646-456-6966.

I Thank You.

Joseph Passero
Local Union 1556 UBC Certified Steward

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Setback for mayor on prevailing-wage order

A judge on Thursday blocked a move by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to prevent the city comptroller from setting wages for about 10,000 city employees.

By Daniel Massey

A Manhattan judge Thursday blocked a move by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to prevent the city comptroller from setting wages for about 10,000 city employees.

Mr. Bloomberg had issued an executive order in April to end a 118-year-old rule that empowers the comptroller to set prevailing wages for about 3% of the city's workforce. The mayor wants plumbers, carpenters and other trade workers to work out their salaries via collective bargaining without any input from the comptroller.

Explaining his rationale on his radio program, the mayor had said the age-old practice likely stemmed from "some back-door political thing, done in the dead of night." He said the vast majority of city workers have their wages set through collective bargaining and that his order closes "a loophole." He argued that wages set by the comptroller recently have exceeded those in the private sector.

For most of its workforce, the city can make contract offers and tell unions to go to arbitration if they don't like them. But for the 3% covered by the prevailing wage law, the unions have the leverage of going to the comptroller for a ruling on the prevailing rate.

Unions vigorously opposed the mayor's order. The New York District Council of Carpenters, District Council 37, Plumbers Local 1, Steamfitters Local 638 and Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers were among those who went to court seeking a restraining order, which was granted in May.

Tensions flare as Con Ed, workers meet

The utility runs newspaper ads that anger the locked-out union, which in turn asks the National Labor Relations Board to rule the lockout illegal.

By Daniel Massey

 Consolidated Edison Inc. and the union representing its 8,500 locked-out workers returned to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon as tensions flared over a full-page ad the utility giant ran in local tabloids.

Also Thursday, the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Con Ed's lockout of the workers—which began Sunday when a dispute over pensions, health care and wages caused contract negotiations to break down—is illegal. A spokesman for the union said the charges were presented to management Thursday morning and filed with the labor board Thursday afternoon.

A labor board spokeswoman confirmed the charges were filed but would not comment further.

A Con Ed spokesman said the union could have avoided the lockout.

"We will take up the matter with the NLRB, but we did what we had to do to continue safely operating the electric, gas and steam systems for 9 million New Yorkers," he said. "The employees' contract had expired, and the union leadership refused to accept our offer of a two-week contract extension."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blue Card Update: This Day in History

July 4, 1776: U.S. Declares Independence 

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France's intervention on behalf of the Patriots.

The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the banner of "no taxation without representation," colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax. With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

It is in that spirt, we encourage all union brothers and sisters of the New York City District Council of Carpenters to vocalize their opposition to the $500 "Working dues Assessment" (Blue Card) and call for the repeal of the corrupt Forde era, illegal assessmentenacted (June 22, 2000 for $250, increased on January 25, 2008 to $500) as an extortion upon their wages on a yearly basis, should they legally choose to refrain from the New York City District Council of Carpenters mandatory leaflet, banner or picket duty activities put forth by the Organizing Department .

As Review Officer Dennis Walsh told the Court on November 7, 2011:

"It's been a long-running issue with many of the members. It was a program instituted by the Forde regime which at least in theory sought to compel one to do one's picket duty and that if you did your picket duty, some $500 that was withheld would then be paid to you. There was a demonstration a couple years ago, which was well-attended, which did get out of hand and led to the arrest of one of the members who did jump up on the security desk. He was brought up on charges and, in essence, turned into a poster boy for the authority of the Forde regime. He was convicted, he was heavily fined, and he was expelled from the union. I've always been very sympathetic to Mr. Brennan's plight, and I have told the UBC that I thought it was a situation that they should revisit, perhaps in the general president's office. Mr. Brennan has since filed a lawsuit, which I believe is active here in the Southern District under the LMRDA, and I also let my opinion be known to the UBC that I think that is a lawsuit that should be settled rather than district council moneys being expended going forward. But the program is very controversial. It is very unpopular amongst a significant percentage of the membership."

Have a Happy, Healthy 4th of July.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fighting For the Soul of the Carpenter's Union

By Shamus Cooke 

All working people should pay attention to the egregious assault on union democracy happening in the Carpenters Union's Pacific North West Regional Council, which covers all the Carpenter's Locals in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has a proud history and should take immediate action to overturn a recent Regional Council decision that disciplined innocent, union-dedicated Carpenters with fines and a loss of membership privileges.

Those punished included twelve Carpenters who had recently won elections to lead their local union - mega-Local 156 of Oregon and South West Washington - as well as many regional delegate seats. The newly elected President and Vice President of Local 156 - as well as the other newly elected officers on the slate - are now facing fines up to $1,500 and six years of stripped membership privileges (the Carpenters interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous, for fear of further retaliation).

What were the crimes of these long standing union Carpenters? They held a "get out the vote" phone bank. For this they were charged with:

1) causing dissent in the ranks 2) failure to uphold the union oath 3) defrauding the union.