Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dock Builders side with the New York City District Council of Carpenters

Click to enlarge.
A group of 700 city dock workers voted today to stick with the New York City District Council of Carpenters instead of joining Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union, a competing union with alleged mob ties.

“Today, New York City Dock Builders have made a clear choice to remain affiliated with the New York City and Vicinity District Council Carpenters,” said District Council leader Michael Bilello, in a statement released just after the votes were tallied. “We had faith in their prudence that was in the best interest of themselves and their families.

“They refused to be misled by false promises of those that have proven in the past that they cannot be trusted. Our members have rejected corruption,” he added.

A representative for the District Council put the count at 361 to 186, though the official results of the vote had not yet been released.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Ivan Schweikert, 45, a 27-year veteran with the Dock Builders who voted for the District Council. ”We did a lot of legwork to get the vote to turn out this way. Everybody was well-informed of the issues and as concerned as I was. I was fairly confident that it would go this way.”

Bilello had portrayed Amalgamated as a group trying to escape federal regulations after they were “weeded out” of a system that was plagued by years of corruption. He and Dennis M. Walsh, a federal review officer put in place in 2010 to monitor the trouble District Council, contended that the dock builders stood to lose their health benefits and pensions if they sided with Amalgamated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mobbed up? Not us says union leader on eve of crucial membership vote

By Al Barbarino

The leader of a breakaway construction union said this week he wants to “set the record straight” before a group of dock builders vote on who they want to represent them.

Angelo R. Bisceglie, Jr., founding president of Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union, slammed allegations by the New York City District Council of Carpenters that his union’s leadership is affiliated with the mob, calling claims that he has ties to the Genovese and Colombo crime families “ridiculous.”

He said Amalgamated was formed because the contractors who work on some of the city’s most high profile construction projects deserve representation that can win them “fair wages for a fair day’s work.”

“Give me a break,” Bisceglie told Real Estate Weekly in an exclusive interview. “Contrary to what the District Council is spinning out there, we are not a mobbed-up union at all. They have me labeled as this mob attorney, which is total crap, and I want to set the record straight.”

Bisceglie said the move to break away from the union followed the decision last summer by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to merge the Dock Builders Local 1456 with the so-called Timbermen of Local 1536 to create a new local, 1556.

The merger came much to the chagrin of contractors who had relied on a high-skilled workforce at the Local 1456, Bisceglie said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Union carpenters reject work-rule changes

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Carpenters turn down several contracts negotiated with contractor associations last year—a blow to the builders pressing for more hiring flexibility.

By Erik Engquist

Members of the carpenters union have soundly rejected four contracts negotiated with contractor associations last year—a blow to contractors because the deals included a number of work-rule changes that they have long coveted.

The primary one was “full mobility” provision that would have enabled contractors to select any member of the union to work for them; the current system compels them to hire at least one-third of their workers via union referrals.

Voting results were revealed to members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters Tuesday. Agreements with the Building Contractors Association, Cement League and Wall, Ceiling and Carpet Industries were all rejected by nearly 2-to-1 margins, with nearly 2,400 votes cast on each, according to the union. A deal with the Greater New York Floor Coverers Association was defeated 123-94.

A single contract was approved, with the Hoisting Trade Association, by a 74-29 count, union officials said.

The carpenters' deals were negotiated by leaders who have since lost power. The new executive secretary-treasurer of the 25,000-member carpenters union, Mike Bilello, had argued against “full mobility” during his election campaign but did not take a formal position on the deals, except to say they deserved a vote.

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

Another clause that some members disliked would have allowed two-person jobs without a shop steward. But the prospect of turning over all hiring to contractors was the primary issue for many rank-and-file members.

One carpenter, Demian Schroeder, said: “By giving the contractors 100% control over hiring, and no work-referral system, carpenters would be less likely to make complaints about noncompliance with the contract, labor law violations and safety violations. I voted against all of those contracts because they are profoundly antiunion agreements that eviscerated the fundamental union principles of our organization.”

Mr. Bilelo said he expected to begin negotiating agreements within a week. The contracts expired June 30, 2011, but an “evergreen clause” keeps them in effect for one year. The pressure is now on the union to get a new deal in place by June 30, 2012.

“We have got to come up with a contract that works for both sides,” Mr. Bilelo said. “We have to go fast. It cannot linger.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Open Letter

Click to enlarge.
Update: Heres a first, the Council posted my editorial on March 23...Better late than never.

(The following email was sent this morning, March 14.)

To Executive Committee
Re: Request to provide information on District Councils website

Per section 12 (G) of the District Council bylaws, I am requesting that you to post the article "Vote No on Contracts" (full text with links) on the District Councils website to provide the membership with a "range of positions and points of view" on the contract ratification vote. "

Section 12 (G) The Executive Committee shall have the authority and responsibility to provide information about the District Council to the public and the membership including by publishing The Carpenter and effectively maintaining the District Council website. When presenting information to the public and the membership, the Executive Committee shall provide information fairly reflecting the range of positions and points of view on subjects relevant to the District Council and members."

Should you have any questions or need anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank You

cc Delegate Body

Audio: ROMAC Meeting March 19, 2012.

All members interested in union affairs should listen to this excellent question and answer session between Review Office, Dennis Walsh and ROMAC committee members on March 19, 2012 which covered a broad range of topics.

iPhone/iPad users click here.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Open Letter to EST Bilello from John Musumeci

Heil Lebo!!!
Via Email
Michael Bilello Executive Secretary-Treasurer
New York City District Council Of Carpenters
395 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014

Re: Violations of UBC Constitution, Roberts Rules of Order and Request for Apology

Dear Mr. Bilello:

I write in response to the conduct of President Lebo during the Delegate Body meeting of March 21, 2012. Specifically, approximately fifteen minutes into the meeting, I raised a Point of Order and Lebo incorrectly ruled me out of order, and unlawfully had me removed from the meeting. I request a written and public apology by President Lebo to the Delegate Body and myself.

As you are well aware, the presidents duties among other things, is to chair all meetings, enforce and be knowledgeable in the UBC Constitution, District Council By-Laws, Roberts Rules of Order, be honest, fair, neutral from partisan politics and protect the rights of the minority.

The symbol for the chair of a meeting is a gavel, which is a symbol of justice and fairness. It is not a crown, which is a symbol of royalty! The role of the chair is that of facilitator and servant of the assembly, not its master.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In The News...

Kwame Patterson will leave his post as communications manager for SEIU 32BJ this week to become the new director of communications for the New York City District Council of Carpenters. Mr. Patterson will be paid a yearly salary of $80,000.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Freedom Tower reclaims New York City's iconic view from top of the 'World' ten years after 9/11

One World Trade Center is soaring into the stratosphere at such breathtaking speed that it will rise above the roof of the Empire State Building in four to six weeks — and claim its crown as New York’s tallest building.

The cloud-buster known to most New Yorkers as the Freedom Tower, its original name, hit the 93rd floor just six days ago — and at a dizzying 1,208 feet above street level, it’s now the city’s second tallest skyscraper.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Vote to decide whether some Atlantic Yards builders join new union with reputed mob ties


A new labor organization with reputed mob ties is attempting to represent 700 rank-and-file union members working on some of New York’s biggest development projects, include Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards and Manhattan’s Hudson Yards.

The Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union is pushing itself as a viable alternative to the New York City District Council of Carpenters.

About 700 of the District Council’s dock builders will be asked this week to decide by mail ballot which union they want to be affiliated with. Besides performing pier work, dock builders also do underpinning, pile driving and foundation work for non-waterfront projects like Atlantic Yards.

Michael Bilello, the District Council’s newly elected leader, said the vote should be a no-brainer in his organization’s favor, considering Amalgamated leaders were previously booted from his organization over “corruption.”

"It is my hope that our members understand what is truly at stake with this week's vote and send a resounding message: corruption and the mob will not be tolerated by our union," said Bilello in a statement today.

"This vote will set the stage for the next decade of work in New York, and our members have a very clear choice: reform or corruption. I encourage every single member to get educated and get involved. This is a battle for the soul of our union."

Amalgamated’s president is Angelo Bisceglie Jr., a lawyer with a long history of representing organized crime families. He did not return a message seeking comment.

According to its website, Amalgamated describes itself as “a union that doesn’t just talk. We are a progressive union that will enable union carpenter contractors to be competitive. Our actions will show that there will be true labor management cooperation for the betterment of the workers and their dedicated contractors.”

In December, a court-appointed review officer issued a scathing report cautioning that organized crime, "[p]redominately through the Genovese family (though other families continue to have interest and “turf”) remains active in its efforts to corruptly influence the District Council and particularly some of its local unions."

If Amalgamated were to win the vote, it could lead to members being "susceptible to the will and influence of racketeers,” the report says.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Local 157 Vote

Thursday, March 22, 2012, 395 Hudson Street.
Polls open 6am to 7pm

New 300+ room hotel to rise near Herald Square

Long-time owners of a site where a Howard Johnson hotel once stood plan to put up one of their own. Owners have built a retail property on another portion of the site

By Amanda Fung

The Herald Square area is getting a new hotel. It is slated to rise right behind the new low-rise retail building on West 34th Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, where shoe and accessory retailer DSW opened earlier this month.

The owner of the 7,357-square-foot lot located at 218 W. 35th St. has been in discussions with three different hotel operators and is working on finalizing financing for the project, according to sources. Owner 34th Street Penn Association plans to build a 28-story hotel boasting as many as 330 rooms. The cost of the development could not be determined immediately.

The planned hotel is still in its early stages, but excavation on the site is well underway and the foundation is already being poured. Final paperwork has not been filed with the city Buildings Department, but SRA Architects has been hired, a source said.

Owner 34th Street Penn Association is a partnership between three different families. One of the partners of the company confirmed that a hotel was planned, but did not elaborate.

The firm has owned the mid-block lot as well as 213 W. 34th St., where it recently opened a four-story retail building, for close to 30 years, according to public records. DSW leases 33,000 square feet in the new property. A Howard Johnson hotel stood on both sites until several years ago when 34th Street Penn Association terminated the hotel's lease and decided to replace it with new buildings. That plan was subsequently disrupted when it looked like part of the property along West 34th Street would be affected by a proposal by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to build a new train tunnel beneath it. After the Port abandoned that idea early last year, the site's owner decided to proceed with its plan for a hotel.

Carpenters Union Fights to Keep Members from Joining Competing Union

By Cindy Rodriguez 

After their local union was dissolved due to corruption allegations, 700 dock builders are in the process of voting on which union should represent them: The New York City District Council of Carpenters or the newly formed Amalgamated Union. The District Council, which has more than 20,000 members, allege that Amalgamated was created by former members kicked out of the union for being corrupt.

 "What I basically like to describe it as is the people that are forming Amalgamated were players in our organization who aren't allowed to play here anymore and they're just trying to bring the game across the street," said Michael Bilello, the newly elected leader of the District Council of Carpenters. Bilello's union, rife with corruption, has been under court oversight since 1994..

Attorney Dennis Walsh is the court-appointed review officer in charge of ridding the union of mob ties, racketeering and other types of corruption that tainted the District Council. Walsh confirmed that Amalgamated has, within its ranks, former District Council members accused of corruption. The attorney said the new union should also be bound by a consent decree requiring rigorous court oversight. .

Attorney Angelo Bisceglie is listed as the president of Amalgamated. A call to his office in West Paterson, N.J., was never returned..

The 700 dock builders who are in the process of voting are involved in major development projects across the city, including Atlantic Yards, the World Trade Center and the Bayonne Bridge..

According to Walsh, Amalgamated would be offering 401(k)'s but no pension, and it was unclear whether medical benefits would be offered. "If I were a member, I would want to look at the facts as to what is in the best interest of my family," he said..

Bilello said he had visited several job sites to make his case against Amalgamated but acknowledges that some of the dock builders were put off by the International Carpenter's Union decision to dissolve their local due to corruption. "There's a lot of emotion involved with some of the guys and they're not thinking clearly about the kind of decision they're making here," Bilello said..

Bilello said he expected to know the results of the vote by March 29.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vote No on "Contracts"

Bilello administration, the silent leaders.
Union Leaders Pushing Contract Sellout

Contractor Associations are continuing to wage a campaign style effort to try to convince carpenters to vote yes on a new five (5) year contract while the Bilello administration is intentionally withholding key information and remains silent as they push this contract sellout deal on the membership.

Question: Why does the administration have no opinion on the contracts, especially in light of campaigning against many of its provisions?

For the first time in the union's history, the New York City District Council of Carpenters is submitting a series of five tentative collective bargaining agreements for ratification by the rank and file. The vote will be by mail-in ballot, conducted by the American Arbitration Association.

The contract will boost wages by $10.65 an hour over five-year life of pact —about 12.5% to the base rate for an average carpenter. Workers will get no raise the first year, an increase of $2.60 on July 1, 2012 , $2.65 in the third year and $2.70 in each of the fourth and fifth years. "The wage rates and fringe benefit contributions shall be determined and/or reallocated by the Union at its sole discretion."

Audio Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, March 13th

(Tip: Click play then pause until audio downloads, about one minute depending on your connection speed. The audio file is 126 min after it downloads you can drag the bar to fast forward, rewind, etc)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Open Letter

March 8, 2012

Mike Bilello, Executive Secretary-Treasurer
Dennis Walsh, Review Officer
New York City District Council of Carpenters
395 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014-7450

Re: Pre-Balloting Access to Union Work Site and E-Mail Lists

Dear Messrs. Bilello and Walsh,

I am writing to you on behalf of myself, and the union member identified in the “cc” line below, to ask that you grant us prompt access to a list of all of the District Council’s work sites and email lists, so that we may exercise our LMRDA rights under 29 U.S.C. §§ 411(a)(1), (2), to express our views on the upcoming contract referenda to other members, and so that other members may hear and discuss these opposition views before they mark and return their ballots. Otherwise, untold numbers of members will be denied access to opposing views and the opportunity to discuss them with fellow members before marking and returning their ballots for counting. See Pawlak v. Greenawalt , 713 F.2d 972, 975 (3d Cir. 1983); Sheldon v. O'Callaghan, 497 F.2d 1276 (2d Cir.), cert. denied , 419 U.S. 1090 (1974); Johnson v. Kay, 671 F. Supp. 268,278 (S.D.N.Y.1987) , aff'd 860 F.2d 529 (2d Cir.1988).

While I understand that Mr. Walsh and Judge Berman have determined that 14 days is a reasonable period of time for affected members to have access to the tentative agreements that are posted online before ballots are mailed, up to 25,000 members located in the New York City and vicinity, will be affected by these CBAs, and 14 days does not provide a lot of time for working members to disseminate their opposition views to other working members, and for affected members to hear, discuss, and debate those views.

My colleague and I have other substantial concerns, including the inadequacy of online posting of the proposed agreements as sufficient pre-ballot notice of them to members, and the possibility that members who do not work under some of the proposed agreements will nevertheless be voting on them, even though they are not affected by them.

I urge you to suspend tomorrow’s mailing of ballots so that we may discuss and resolve these issues before money is needlessly expended on a ballot mailing that will need to be redone later,after these serious flaws have been remedied. Toward that end,  I look forward to hearing from you today, or tomorrow morning, before ballots are mailed.

Demian Schroeder

cc: Robert Makowski

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stephen Ross: The Billionaire Who Is Rebuilding New York

This story appears in the 2012 Billionaires issue of Forbes magazine, dated March 26, as a feature entitled “The Last Master Builder.”


Staring across Manhattan’s last untamed strip, the rows of sleek silver commuter trains sliding along the island’s only active rail yard, the Related Companies’ Stephen Ross points to the future. There, flanking the wildly successful High Line elevated park, is where the 56-story South Tower will go. And over there, on the other side of 33rd Street, where massive cranes bisect the sky, will be the new subway entrance.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Laying Down His Hammer to Apply a Broom to a Troubled Union


When he was elected in December as the leader of the city’s 25,000 unionized carpenters, Michael Bilello was helping to build the new PATH station at ground zero. After the election, he “put down his tools” — as they say in his trade — and went to Brooks Brothers, where he had once built a staircase, to buy a new suit. “It was the only place I could find with the union label in the pocket,” he said.

Mr. Bilello, 54, has been a carpenter since graduating from high school in Hicksville, N.Y., in 1975. After years of swinging a hammer, he won election as a reformer, pledging to return democracy and integrity to a union in distress. He has his work cut out for him. Among the challenges he faces are an increase in nonunion construction, unsigned labor contracts, a breakaway faction seeking to leave the union, a federal judge who monitors his every move, and organized-crime families that still view the New York City District Council of Carpenters as a prime feeding ground.

He also has to beat the jinx: the last four leaders of the district council were indicted for on-the-job crimes. Mr. Bilello’s immediate predecessor, Michael Forde, is serving an 11-year term in federal prison for taking bribes; Frederick W. Devine was convicted in 1998 of embezzlement; Paschal McGuinness was acquitted of bribery but resigned in 1994 as part of a consent decree that settled a federal civil racketeering case and placed the union under court oversight. Theodore Maritas did not make it to court: he vanished in 1982 on the eve of his trial on mob-tied extortion charges, leaving behind only a wallet found floating near the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vote NO on "Contracts"

As you have probably been notified, the NYC District Council of Carpenters is submitting tentative collective bargaining agreements for ratification by affected members of the Union. The vote will be by mail-in ballot, conducted by the American Arbitration Association.

NYC Carpenters Rank-and-File Organized is strongly urging members to vote and vote ‘NO!’on ratification of all tentative agreements (T.A.) and send a message for the bosses to renegotiate.

First and most importantly, if ratified, the tentative agreements will bring five (5) years of labor strife and volatility. The bosses froze our wage-and-benefit package during the last two (2) years, and this freeze continues through the first year (1) of the T.A. With ‘contractually guaranteed’ wage-and-benefit package cost-of-living raises taken over by the employers in the past, we stand to give back in the future as well.The increases for each of the tentative agreement’s final (4) years are not guaranteed! Additionally, the‘most favored nation’ clause in the T.A. grant bosses the power to, upon signing, renegotiate terms for an individual Company, then allow all contractors in on the deal, with 20%+ pay-cuts and work rule changes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Carpenter Contract Ratification Vote

Sample Ballot.
This week members of the New York City District Council Of Carpenters will be receiving an "Official Secret Ballot" and will get to vote on a series of five contracts for the first time in their union's history.

Sources say, a "neutral cover letter" will be included in the ballot mail out urging all members to read the contracts posted on the District Councils website.

Members will have approximately two weeks to study the contracts and consult with peers if they so desire before they cast their ballot and return it by mail NO LATER THAN 8:00 A.M., TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012.

Attention Members

There will be a Delegate Meeting on Wednesday, March 14th at 5 p.m. Location: 2nd Floor, Labor Technical College, 395 Hudson Street, New York, NY.

All members are welcome to attend.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Carpenters Claim BCTD, Labor Officials Are Waging ‘Unlawful Extortionate Campaign’

By Elliott T. Dube

The AFL-CIO’s Building & Construction Trades Department, its president, and four other high-profile labor officials have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and Washington state law by engaging in an “unlawful extortionate campaign” to force the Carpenters and Joiners of America to make monthly payments to BCTD and to be governed by its rules, according to a complaint filed Feb. 21 in a federal district court in Washington state (Carpenters and Joiners of Am. v. Building and Constr. Trades Dep’t, E.D. Wash., No. 12-109, 2/21/12).

The 246-page complaint was brought by the Carpenters, a number of its affiliated councils, and 19 individual plaintiffs in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. In addition to BCTD and its President Mark Ayers, the plaintiffs are suing: Ed Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Jimmy Williams, president of the Painters and Allied Trades; Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department; and David Molnaa, president of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council.

Notice: Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, March 13th

All members are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting at the District Council on Tuesday, March 13th at 4:30 pm.

The Executive-Secretary Treasurer, President and Vice-President, as well as the RO, will address the members in attendance and answer their questions regarding CBAs, Amalgamated and the NLRB vote, court matters and any other topic of general interest.

The meeting will be held at on the Second Floor at 395 Hudson Street, New York, NY (use Clarkson Street entrance).