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.

The contract covers the period from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010, and provides a minimum rate for journeymen employees of $21.00 per hour in wages and $10.94 per hour, for each hour worked up to 40 in a week for total fringe benefits. (The MWA contract rate calls for $27.13 wages and  $15.97 benefits for shop workers and $44.02 wages and $38.88 benefits for outside installers per hour).

The MWA became aware of the shady Gilbert/Sheil deal (paying a reduce wage and benefit package) in 2011, during discussions among MWA representatives and UBC supervisor Frank Spencer, and claimed that it should have received the same terms pursuant to the “most favored nations clause” in its CBA.

The MWA filed an arbitration claim and a hearing was held on March 16, 2012 at the offices of the American Arbitration Association, 1633 Broadway, NY. On May 3, 2012 the arbitrator (Rosemary A. Townley) agreed with the MWA’s position that it should have received the Gilbert rate from August 1, 2009, forward.

The MWA has now not only claimed that it is entitled to a refund of tens of millions of dollars paid to the Benefit Funds, but last month cut the benefit rate paid on all employees to the $10.94 per hour Gilbert benefit rate.


So far, the Districts Council's response to this terrible arbitration decision has been...Zip, Nothing, Nada.

Despite transparency claims, the hiring of a new communications director, the promise of a new website, EST Mike Bilello & company have communicated very little information to the membership since being elected last December.

The latest post on the Councils website is a message of support for Con Edison workers who have been locked out by their employers for the last two weeks : "The NYCDCC stands with our brothers and sisters at Con Edison..."We fully support these workers as they fight for fair wages and to maintain their benefits."

Not a single word of support to the hardworking carpenters or their families that are affected by this outrageous action by the MWA. Not a single word of support or what action is being taken against the MWA for cutting benefit rates from $38.88 to $10.94 per hour.

When questioned at a delegate meeting on June 27, Bilello said, "we are discussing and exploring legal options and strategies which I will not detail tonight."

Bilello also said he "will not shut down any MWA jobs and will continue to negotiate an agreement with the understanding we will not negotiate a wage and benefit rate that is less then our standard contract."

Informed sources say a hearing is scheduled before the arbitrator on July 19. 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.

The source also said the Benefit Funds have filed an action in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction.

Review Officer, Dennis Walsh who included the MWA arbitration decision in his June 4, report has recommended that the Council "explore legal remedies against any and all former District Council officials and any professionals who advised them with regard to the Gilbert contract."


Contact your elected leaders and shop stewards, demand answers and information regarding the MWA action. Notify your business representative immediately if proper wage and benefits are not being paid and file a grievance against the MWA contractor. If you can, avoid working for any MWA contractor, if you are currently working for an MWA contractor refuse to work any overtime, this will force MWA contractors to sub the work out to non MWA contractors who will receive the proper wage and benefit rates per hour.


  1. This is a total disgrace and the members we elected should be outraged and the members that voted them in should be calling for the heads of those who are so full of themselves that they are not screaming and demanding a stop to this I'd like to know who is going to represent us at the July 19 th meeting and I say we fill the streets in front on this site with our members and let everyone in this city know that they wanna pay us 10 dollars we better wake this is just a stepping stone for the other companies to use this and set a bar for us what is it going to take to get our members pissed off and show their power are you going to stand by and let this happen we as in we all the unions have to start backing each other Dennis shields should be arrested on the spot aka backdoor deal is corruption Dennis Walsh should have this man arrested and all his assets frozen if as stated in this article that shields was outside his powers and was not authorized by proper persons to make this deal then he has done something illegal and is a piece of shit turncoat and these idiots that are in charge and were elected to protect should seek to destroy this man anyway we can. No more backdoor deals get rid of all these bullshit agreements and can them all stop this game playing Lets see some swift action and hire a cutthroat lawyer and straighten this shit out right away

  2. This Son of a Bitch needs to be dragged through the mud instead of being prtotected by a confidentiality agreement with the gov't. Sort of a pre anti corruuption initiative rider. Give us what you have on Forde et al, relaistically a limited number of other racketeerng activity, because if the feds didn't limit the indictments they'd fill sing sing. The consent decree was made a mockery for 20 years and its best to keep these things small, otherwise they'd be exposed for f'n the whole thing up. Sorry but the power & breadth of the us gov't couldn't get them earlier, c'mon dwfw.

  3. The use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute. International Arbitrators specializing in international investment and commercial arbitration. News and analysis on international arbitration between foreign investors and their host governments. Thanks.

    Investment Arbitration


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