Sunday, September 9, 2012

Carpenters Nail New Agreement, Maybe?

Updated: September 10, 2012

A seemingly never-ending labor saga that has left 25,000 carpenters without a contract for the last 15 months may have hit a snag and a new delegate vote may be required.

On August 22, 2012 on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, led by EST Mike Bilello, the 100-member delegate body of the District Council, by a vote of 60 to 26, approved terms amending the current collective bargaining agreement with the Association of Wall-Ceiling and Carpentry Industries in significant respects.

Delegates left the meeting thinking, in exchange for substantial wage increase, carpenters have a "new agreement" and have finally ended the never-ending contracts talks.

Proposed agreement may hit a snag

The proposed agreement that the delegates approved includes "full mobility," a controversial clause that allows contractors to hire union members without official referrals from the out-of -work list.

Because the "full mobility" clause represents a change to the hiring ratios (67% - 33%) mandated in a May 2009 federal court order, it will have to be approved by the court. The union's federal-appointed monitor, Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh, and the U.S. Attorney's Office must also approve the deal, which includes that the employers and District Council "must develop an appropriate compliance program."

The proposed agreement does not include, as part of the compliance enforcement under the "full mobility" provisions, the "Labor-Management Committee" program as envisioned by UBC supervisor Frank Spencer and UBC attorney Kenneth Conboy, under an agreement negotiated in late 2011 and soundly rejected by nearly 2-to-1 margins, with nearly 2,400 votes cast by the rank and file on March 27, 2012.

At the time, Mr. Bilello, had vigorously argued against “full mobility” during his election campaign and argued for membership ratification, ("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") but did not take a formal position on the deals, except to say they deserved a vote and he did not want to "taint the process."

“There were some unpopular things (in the agreements), in particular the full mobility,” Mr. Bilelo said. “It was really a referendum on full mobility.”

This time around, six months later, Mr. Bilello flip-flops and reversed his positions, arguing for "full mobility" and against membership ratification, (so much for putting control in the memberships hands) saying that delegates looked beyond the full mobility issue, "recognizing other attributes" in the agreement. He said one key provision could put 1,000 carpenters to work each year by forcing employers to hire a member of the district council for every carpenter they hire who is not a member. 

"This is a time when other trades have taken pay cuts or are looking at concessions," Mr. Bilello said. "We’ve gotten our members a good increase and the ability to put more of them to work.

The "Labor Management" component was a complex and costly corporation formed with a Board of Directors and a appointed an Executive Director, with the "authority to administer the Anti-Corruption program" and would assist in contract enforcement and investigate and redress violations through arbitration, fines, and other means.

The delegates voted on and approved a four page proposed agreement which included an "Addendum," which specifically says, "compliance will be monitored and enforced using the following means."

a. "Each employer will be assigned a unique control number and each job site will be assigned a unique control number."

b. "Carpenters’ time will be entered on -site by Shop Stewards through the use of scanners, direct date entry (using iPhones, iPads, on-site PCs/laptops, orsimilar electronic means), or by calls into a District Council switchboard that will then have the data loaded into a central system linked to the District Council. That way there will be daily reports of all hours that will be transmitted to the Funds and each employer, allowing for reconciliation of any disputes as to employees and hours to be dealt with within a reasonable time (e.g., 72 to 120 hours)."

Informed sources say, the contract has not been signed, (even though it is being referred to on the Councils website as a "New Agreement") and may not be implemented without the RO's and the government's approval of the "required compliance program" before it is submitted to Judge Berman for consideration.

In a request for comment, the RO said, the “Addendum” is "only an outline" of the need for a compliance program, "any such approvals could only follow submission and consideration of a fully documented plan."

Mr. Walsh has said full mobility could work as long as it comes with vigorous enforcement that includes electronic scanning of union cards, video cameras and a team of investigators to ensure it does not lead to bribery demands or other forms of corruption.

The words on the "Addendum" which the delegates approved, establish what a program must look like, but are insufficient to demonstrate a fully-detailed program as envisioned by the RO.

In an email on September 7, to EST Bilello and President Lebo, requesting comment, I wrote among others things, "it has come to my attention that the “Addendum” to the proposed contract is only an outline of the need for a compliance program and not a fully-detailed program."

"If the detailed submission to the RO is materially different from the addendum, the contract will require a new vote by the delegate body."

In my view, delegates voted specifically on a four page proposed agreement which may be incomplete, any material changes made to the agreement will require a new vote by the delegates.

Bilello and Lebo, did not immediately respond to the request for comment.



  2. Without the current Contract in hand & the new Contract beside it, with every proposed Textual Change in the Contract lined out on a page by page, line item process - the rank & file member and more specifically the Delegate Body does not have a clue on what the hell they are voting on, whether they may be for it, or against it.


    Intentionally hiding the complete contract in draft form with all proposed changed contractual lanaguage "bolded" for all to see (including the U.S.A.O., the R.O. & the Court), the so called tranparency & full disclosure envisioned by Dennis Walsh is nothing but a smokescreen & brazen attempt at deceiving the rank & file, the U.S. Attorney, the Review Officer & the Court.

    The members do not need the contract dumbed down to the Jethro Bowdine 6th grade level that Bilello & crew are trying to get away with. In fact, members have proven beyond any shadow of a reasonable doubt that they are fully capable of comprehending and following the most complex legal issues and the case law supporting same.

    This proposed Contract and the way in which Bilello & crew & the Executive Committee seek to implement it is a slap in the face to the rank & file and it shows their utter contempt & disdain for following any process required by the now 23-year old & 2-day Federal Civil Rico Consent Decree.

    In house counsel Murphy needs to follow Epstein right out the back door.


    The so called D.C Executives cannot negotiate away via any form of Collective Bargaining Agreement & so called Negotiations the Standing Orders of a Federal Court Judge & expect to get away with it.

    Thomassen found out the hard way & it is time that Bilello, Lebo & Cavanaugh had their turn before Judge Berman. The same holds for in house counsel Murphy.

    Who the hell do these clowns think they are?


    The Wall & Ceiling Associations hand picked Trustee Oliveri was convicted of perjury & nothing there has changed, as they continue unabated clinging to failed idealogical mindsets of the Forde era & the false belief that they are above the law & the rules of the Court and the Consent Decree. They are not.

    They must be held accountable and it is incumbent upon the R.O. & the U.S.A.O. to force these dolts to file the proper formal legal Motion to overturn Judge Haight's standing order dated May 26, 2009 for the 67% - 33% OWL/Referral rules.

    Until that occurs, you can all but wipe your ass with this pile of crap.


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