Thursday, December 20, 2012

Zazzali letter to Judge Berman and RO response

John's note: By decision dated October 31, 2012, the Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh, at the request and with the participation of the District Council, terminated the relationship of Walter Mack as Chairman of the Trial Committee and Jim Zazzali as Vice-Chairman of the Trial Committee to be effective no later than November 30, 2012.  Mack and Zazzali were hired in July, 2010. Below is a letter from Zazzali to Berman concerning the matter along with a response from the RO.

Dear Judge Berman:

I write to you concerning the above-captioned matter. I have reviewed the Review Officer's Decision of October 31, 2012. I have also received Walter Mack’s December 4, 2012 correspondence to Your Honor with which I fundamentally agree.


The efforts of the Trial Committee of the New York District Council of Carpenters are part of a long and turbulent battle to reform the culture of a historically corrupt union. One-sided justice plagued this organization, a member had no place to go if he crossed those in power, and justice was rigged. It was thus critical to craft a fair, unbiased, and transparent system to meet the members’ expectations. The system succeeds when a member knows that he will be fairly charged and tried, and if found guilty, that he will be punished; but if he is in fact not guilty, he can be confident of acquittal. Bias and prejudice are no longer in the mix. All of this would set the example for an impartial justice system, free of pressure from those who are either parties to the dispute or who have power over the dispute.

I agreed to serve in this capacity because I believed in the need for, and had experience with, union reform efforts. In the 198O’s, the District Court for New Jersey and the United States Attorney asked me to serve as special counsel for Teamsters Local 560 (the “Tony Pro” union), one of the first unions subject to a RICO trusteeship. I also interacted with the Hon.Frederick B. Lacey (retired), when he was a Monitor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. As Attorney General, I initiated action against the major casino union in Atlantic City as part of a reform effort. While Chair of our State Commission of Investigation (SCI), analogous to New York’s SIC, the SCI issued reports and recommendations concerning labor organizations. I have also -served as ethics officer for various unions. I walked away from those experiences with an abiding conviction that fairness is critical to any reform effort. Because careers, reputations and lives depend on how such tasks are approached, process is the polestar.

Walter Mack and I undertook this effort with a commitment to both the reforms and the concomitant obligation to do it right, so as to avoid mistakes on both sides that have characterized some efforts elsewhere. And so, when we assumed responsibility in September 2010, it was important that the District Council and the International Union assured us of our independence in discharging our judicial-like functions.

Zazzali letter to Judge Berman

Walsh Response



  2. Valid points on both sides of the fence. The RO however, is dead wrong on the exhaustion doctrine as applied to the UBC Constitution or the Trial Committee. It's simply not applicable as per long standing settled law from all places, the United States Supreme Court.

    I'd perhaps consider redacting the Judges phone & fax as it is not necessary within the context here and serves no purpose.

    As to the exhaustive process for explaining charges to regular rank & file members, given they are not lawyers nor should they be; and, given the sum of $200M plus the International has expended in legal billings under the reign of McCarron, the TC Rules proffered by the R.O. should have thoughtfully considered the unique disadvantage the rank & file member faces when the adversary, the International has spent the last 25-years shredding the NLRA & LMRA to its unique advantage which at the very least is criminal in nature & purpose.

    Food for thought: The RO & District Council should retain Mack & Zazalli at their current rates and subsequently terminate the services of the IG's Office and its staff, many of which do not possess law degrees or the requisite skills and experience in Trusteeships of Unions as contemplated under the Consent Decree.

    The bang for the buck was in the independence of Mack & Zazalli and their separation from the body politic, that dynamic and ever changing beast called the DC, where the training wheels won't come for some years to come given the simple fact that by the time they are properly trained and ready to play with the big boys out in the world of business, crap - their terms & possibly careers are ended, done, finito; and, the process will start all over again with a new band of wannabe EST's.

    Ultimately, under the operative provisions of the newly enacted DC By-law dated 8-5-11, given the above - it will be near impossible to end the Consent Decree and accordingly, the never ending revolving door of useless hacks populating the District Council payroll.

    True reform would start with the IG & so called Organizing Departments and it would end by changing the term limit's for the DC Officers which equate to the untenable proposition that the RO's term & Consent Decree will never really come to an end. A two term, six year limit doesn't cut it. Three, four year terms or one constructed to transcend the CBA contract timeframe would be more favorable.

    Mack & Zazalli know all too well that the UBC Locals & its DC's can and do screw with members lives and ruin or end careers. The uneleceted hacks that sing McCarrons praises, for them, this is what they do best. In UBC Land, all it takes is for a member to dare stand up and say the wrong thing at Local Meeting & the black-balling naturally follows.


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