(John's note: MWA Update–– The arbitrator requested and received from the parties an extension from December 31, 2012 to January 19, 2012 to render her decision).
by A Christmas Carol
Reliable sources confirm a notice was recently sent by the NYCDCC Benefit Funds to Members employed by Manufacturing Woodworkers Association (MWA) companies that their Welfare Fund (medical) benefits will be terminated January 31st, 2012.
Due to the avaricious leadership of MWA President and Rimi Woodcraft owner Anthony Rizzo, and attorney Scott Trivella, association companies, in June 2012-- many already on payment plans with the Fund, and several months in arrears-- arbitrarily cut hourly fringe benefit rate contributions of all employees to $10.94.
The reduced contribution break down is as follows:
Pension Fund: $2.50 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Hollow Metal Welfare Fund: $5.70 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Vacation Fund: $2.61 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Supplemental Fund $.04 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Custom Woodworking Industry Fund: $.01 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Labor Management Fund $.08 per hour, up to 40 hours.
Following the controversial Gilbert Display MWA Arbitration decision-- with final damage totals still yet to be determined-- MWA company management arbitrarily and unilaterally cut benefits, and did not inform employees of those cuts, or document them, until several weeks had passed-- meanwhile Union mill-workers and installers unknowingly completed large scale jobs on Fortune 500 corporate projects at less than prevailing wage, where the bid awards had originally been based on our regular rate.
Neither Mike Bilello's District Council administration, nor the Benefit Funds (with EST Bilello as Trustee,) directly informed Members working under the MWA of the cuts either, until months later-- when employees received Vacation Fund statements simply indicating a reduction in pay to $2.61 hourly.
Members report having called the Benefit Funds office to inquire about their year 2012 cumulative hour contributions; the total reported by Funds employees did not include time worked for MWA companies, and no explanation was offered.
Additionally; the total employer contribution of $10.94 per hour is for only up to 40 hours of work per week-- no benefits for overtime!
Already-- with the reduction in vacation pay, no annuity contributions, or any benefit contributions after 40 hours, overall MWA employee compensation has been drastically reduced. (For instance: a Carpenter under these circumstances, whose quarterly vacation check was slashed from $7.10 to $2.61 per hour, absorbing such an unforeseen shortfall, would also have less to borrow, if necessary, from their annuity account.)
And furthermore; since MWA employees' NYCDCC Welfare Fund benefits have now been discontinued-- as of December 31-- and the much reduced Gilbert Display level welfare contributions redirected to the sub-standard Hollow Metal Fund, NYC Union mill-workers and installers are looking at either non-existent, or severely limited medical coverage, and increased out-of-pocket expenses, going into the New Year.
(Note: under Hollow Metal-- $26,000 medical expense cap, 1200 hours required before coverage eligibility may be established, hours are non transferable between Hollow Metal & District Council Welfare Funds.)
Thank you bosses; including, but not limited to: Douglas McCarron, Frank Spencer, Denis Sheil, George Greco, Joseph Oliveri, Anthony Rizzo, Frank Di Stephano, Scott Trivella, Denise Forte, all the Manufacturing Woodworkers Association company CEO's, the uncommunicative and unilateral Bilello administration, the well compensated Council attorneys, and our sympathetic Benefit Funds Trustees-- for your genuine demonstration of concern, addressed loud and clear to the loyal, hardworking, NYC and vicinity rank-and-file shop workers and outside installers, this holiday season-- you truly deserve the Union Carpenter Scrooge award for 2012!
Friday, December 28, 2012
(John's note: MWA Update–– The arbitrator requested and received from the parties an extension from December 31, 2012 to January 19, 2012 to render her decision).
Thursday, December 27, 2012
By Beth English —
The Huffington Post
Why a Union-Friendly Economic Agenda Can Help Rebuild America's Middle Class
As America's economic recovery continues at a snail's pace, the fiscal cliff looms, and officials elected to office in November prepare to take office next month, protecting the rights of working people to organize and maintain their unions should be a focal point in the crafting of a broader domestic economic agenda. And with the New Year upon us, it affords us the chance to look back and see how our economic past impacts our future.
In the wake of the passage of Michigan's right-to-work-law, we have witnessed much handwringing on the left and back-slapping on the right that this decidedly blue state and bulwark of the American labor movement became the 24th state in the country to enact such legislation. The immediate and long-term consequences of the Michigan law remain to be seen, but few doubt that it will erode the influence of organized labor there, and possibly nationwide.
But importantly, our own history provides ample evidence that law and public policies such as these that effectively amount to a race-to-the-bottom for America's workers impede the growth of a robust middle-class, threatening the United States' economic health and the ongoing recovery.
While campaigning for president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for economic planning that would "build from the bottom up and not from the top down." Addressing a nation reeling from the Great Depression, he acknowledged the government couldn't spend its way out that crisis. Yet FDR eschewed policies where relief came only to those at the "top of the social and economic structure" -- sound familiar? -- and instead proposed permanent relief to those on the lower economic rungs of society.
With the passage of the landmark National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935, three years after FDR's call to build from the bottom up and simultaneous with grassroots union organizing, labor unions became one of the most important vehicles for boosting wages and living standards for millions of U.S. workers, and for helping to create and sustain a robust middle class after World War II.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
|Gausman President Pro Tem|
Last June, Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh vetoed Local 157 President Patrick Nee. Since that time Vice President Tom McGonnigle has been fulling the duties of president, McGonnigle resigned his position last month.
In compliance with Section 32 D, of the UBC Constitution, "In the absence of both the President and the Vice President, the Recording Secretary shall call the meeting to order and those present shall elect a President pro tem."
Member's present nominated Dan Franco and Gerry Gausman for President pro tem.
This is not the first time Gausman has held elected office. Gausman was elected Vice President on December 7th, 2010 in a special executive board election in former Local 608 before UBC General President, Douglas McCarron, dissolved the local on December 14, 2010 and transferred all its members to Local 157.
Gausman was also was appointed Vice President pro tem in accordance with Section 32 B of the UBC Constitution, by President pro tem Mike Bilello, who was elected in accordance with Section 32 D, at a March 21, 2011 meeting.
Gausman, without explanation, then violated the UBC Constitution by failing to preside over the April 18th meeting. He then agreed with and participated with Mike Bilello in a scheme to defraud the membership by holding unconstitutional nominations for President pro tem, (which Bilello was elected again). The two then continued to run a hoax of a meeting for over three hours, whereby both he and Bilello told the membership "no one is in charge" of Local 157.
Gausman was defeated by Pat Nee and lost his position in an election held in June 2011.
Sources said that several council employees, including newly elected Council President Steve McInnis voted for Gausman.
"Gausman was actively campaigning for McInnis at a fundraiser at Jack Dempseys bar and at Thursdays presidential election in exchange for council support," the source said.
Gausman, will now serve as President Pro tem until the local schedules an election sometime next year.
With over 9000 members, Local 157 is the largest local in the New York City District Council of Carpenters and the UBC.
Friday, December 21, 2012
As we celebrate the holiday season and approach a new year, I want to take a moment to thank you all for the hard work and dedication you have given to the District Council and its membership throughout 2012. This year has presented us with a great number of challenges, but in every challenge therein lies invaluable opportunity.
In 2012, we have seen the end of the supervision by the International, the holding of fair and open elections, and constant effort to promote a fair and just Union for all of our members. New policies have been created and successfully implemented to benefit members on the OWL, additional business reps have been hired in order to increase service to the membership. A number of contract negotiations have been completed while some will be ongoing into the new year, as we continue to strive to obtain the best wages, benefits, and working conditions for our members that can be achieved through the collective bargaining process. We have also begun an Organizing campaign that combines our efforts with 3213] and other participating NYC unions across several industries in a joint effort to unionize jobs all across New York City. This unique initiative is called the “Build up NYC” campaign. The Carpenter Newsletter was brought back into production this year, and the website has been dramatically revamped and upgraded. Additionally, great measures have been taken to significantly cut back costs and expenses of the District Council, especially costs related to the Charge and Trial process.
We have met challenges head on, and have seized the opportunity to strengthen our Union and to better represent our membership. Next year, there will be new obstacles, new goals, and of course opportunities, I am confident that we will meet these with the same determination. I welcome and encourage you to share any suggestions or concerns you may have along the way.
Again, thank you for your dedication and tireless efforts this past year. I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.
Michael R. Bilello
NYCDCC Special Presidential Unofficial Election Results
*There were 36 mail in ballots and 119 challenged votes that will not be opened because they cannot affect the outcome.
The Review Officer expects to certify the results by December 27, 2012.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
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.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
By Natalie Musumeci - The Brooklyn Paper
|United: A coalition of union members from sheet metal workers to carpenters, joined by elected officials, rallied against the Acadia Realty Trust, the developers of the City Point development project.|
Hundreds of union workers rallied at the under-construction City Point development in Downtown on Tuesday and accused developer Acadia Realty Trust of short-changing the non-union laborers building the massive housing and retail complex — which received a $20-million federal bailout in 2009.
A coalition of unions including sheet metal workers and carpenters argued they should have been tapped for the job and claimed project officials had no excuse for not paying higher wages to the non-union construction crew employed at the Dekalb Avenue site because the development received the tax-exempt stimulus funds.
Rally-goers — including politicians and members of the Brooklyn-based community group Families United for Racial and Economic Equality — chanted, blew whistles, and carried signs that read: “Acadia got bailed out; Brooklyn got sold out!”
“The only reason they’re not using union workers is because they don’t want to pay a fair wage,” said Terry Moore, the business manager of the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers for Local 46.
A City Point spokesman would not disclose the wages of the 180 workers who built the first part of the project — a four-story retail structure that currently includes an Armani Exchange shop and is slated to host a Century 21 department store — but did say that more than 80 percent of the employees were minorities or Brooklyn residents.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn has gone through the usual tortured process of redevelopment in New York City, and the most recent excitement has been the opening of the $1 billion Barclays Center, home of the now Brooklyn (formerly New Jersey) Nets. But there’s another component of the massive project that is most worthy of attention for what it says about state-of-the-art housing construction: the world’s tallest modular building.
The groundbreaking for B2 Bklyn, a 32-story residential tower, is set for this morning, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz on hand alongside the development team, led by Forest City Enterprises and Skanska. What makes it interesting is that the building is almost entirely pre-fabricated. The apartments will be manufactured about a mile away, driven to the site on flatbed trucks, and stacked on top of each other, not unlike how my son builds Legos.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
There is a lot of work around now of a generally unfulfilling nature. The devastation brought by hurricane Sandy leaves New York’s construction industry in great demand. But it is not the proud work of building our city, it is restoration after the ravages left by the storm.
Still, the determination and expertise of our union contractors and their crews is a comfort to the people of New York and the outlying areas because when the chips are down people know they can trust the quality of the reconstruction. This is a showcase for us. It’s up to us, the union contractors, to show that there is a reason why our crews are working fast and first class. It is because of the high quality training and dedicated work ethic union construction offers. Here is our opportunity to shine. Let’s make sure we are heard.
A recent issue of Crain’s New York Business proclaimed “Storm repairs offer bump to recovering construction industry.” It points to the potential of steady work for an industry that has shed more than 20,000 jobs since its 132,600 peak in 2008. Unfortunately, this is a false positive. It is not steady work. What we need is for the financial gridlock that has slowed building in the city to be broken so that steady employment can recover. And now that our union contracts have been concluded, our members must find ways to compete for market share. Let’s do it.
An interesting test is now being conducted by The District Council which can have positive effects for our members. According to Review Officer Dennis Walsh, they are currently investigating a time-entering program where stewards will be able to access a site by computer with specific job numbers and passwords. Union members will be able to log in and inspect work time that has been entered for the individual. Errors can be reported quickly and disagreements can be settled. Stewards, representatives and employers are being trained. Live testing is being conducted. It sounds like a good program and should represent a faithful representation of a worker’s hours on a job. The program, while promising, still has to be reviewed before anyone can sign on to it.
I wish you all a happy, safe, and profitable holiday season. — John DeLollis
Source: Off The Wall- Fall 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington has dismissed the RICO lawsuit filed by the UBC against the National Building Trades.
From the very beginning, most in the Labor movement, considered the lawsuit as frivolous, however, it still had to be defended.
According to a complaint filed Feb. 21, 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.
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.
The defendants have been conspiring to carry out a “campaign of intimidation, threats, violence and other unlawful extortionate conduct” to compel the Carpenters’ entry into multiple “involuntary agreements,” according to the complaint.
Specifically, it alleges, the defendants have been trying to extort the Carpenters to make monthly payments to BCTD in perpetuity, to let BCTD exercise the Carpenters’ rights to recruit, accept, and train dues-paying members, to enter into BCTD-negotiated project and other agreements, to be bound to BCTD’s Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes, and to allow BCTD to control the Carpenters’ political activity, among other things.
Below is a copy of the decision for those who would like to review.
How the New York construction trade unions should react to the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy
By Gregory A. Butler
You would think that, in a city that had just suffered a major storm that destroyed thousands of homes and buildings, there would be little to no unemployment in the construction trades.
That’s actually the claim that Louis Colletti, the president of the Building Trades Employers Association and self proclaimed spokesman of the New York construction industry made in a recent interview with Crain’s New York Business.
Problem is, that’s just not true – at least for the unionized segment of the industry.
In the New York District Council of Carpenters, unemployment is 45%. Of the 16,946 men and women in that union in 2010, 7,565 are currently unemployed – 2,116 of them have been out of work so long that they’ve actually quit the union to seek greener pastures elsewhere (often in the non union side of carpentry, which has approximately 24,000 jobs – many of which are full time, unlike the union side of the industry, which is mostly casual labor.)
It’s not clear when all the jobs which, supposedly, are going to result from the tragedy of the hurricane are going to materialize.
As of this writing in mid December, 6 weeks after the storm, much of the rubble hasn’t even been cleared yet. Even in the heart of the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, major office buildings are still getting water pumped out of their basements and emergency mold removal, demolition and electrical repair work performed.
In the working class neighborhoods that were devastated, matters are even worse.
Red Hook, Coney Island, Canarsie, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, the Rockaways, the South Shore of Staten Island, Throggs Neck, Chinatown and the Lower East Side are still in ruins.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
By Bernie Woodall
(Reuters) - Michigan's Republican-led Legislature approved a ban on mandatory union membership on Tuesday, dealing a stunning blow to organized labor in the state that is home to U.S. automakers and the symbol of industrial labor in the United States.
As more than 12,000 unionized workers and supporters protested at the Capitol in Lansing, the state House of Representatives gave final approval to a pair of "right-to-work" bills covering public- and private-sector unions.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder was poised to sign the bills into law this week, completing in a few days a campaign to make Michigan the 24th U.S. state to prohibit unions from requiring employees to join and contribute dues.
In a rapid turn of events, Michigan has moved from being a bastion of union influence to the verge of joining states, mostly in the South, that have weakened local protections for unions.
The Teamsters union national president, James Hoffa, whose father, Jimmy Hoffa, was one of the nation's most famous labor leaders until he disappeared in 1975 in Michigan, denounced Republican leaders in a speech to the protesters.
"Let me tell the governor and all those elected officials who vote for this shameful, divisive bill - there will be repercussions," Hoffa said. "Some day soon, they will face the voters of Michigan and they will have to explain why they sided with the billionaires to back this destructive legislation."
Monday, December 10, 2012
Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Times Square Thursday demanding not only higher pay but health benefits and better working conditions.
"We believe that the economy has to work for all of New York City not just for a handful of people," said Gary LaBarbera of the NYC Building Trades Council.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Review Office Dennis Walsh held a Special Presidential Election debate on Wednesday, Dec. 5, watch the debate and meet the Candidates for District Council President.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I write not to seek reinstatement into my position as Chairman of the Trial Committee nor to continue the work of the administrators termed ‘The Minders’. The conduct shown me recently by the highest leadership of the District Council and its representatives dismays me but is not beyond my experience.
Jim Zazzali and I have completed our final cases, written or uttered our last opinions, and dispatched, for the most part, our many files to the District Council. Because former Chief Justice Zazzali is traveling and participating in an on-going legal proceeding, he will be submitting his own letter to the Court promptly. I do believe that he and I fundamentally agree on my assertions herein, but he certainly will speak for himself on these subjects.
Rather, I write to seek the Court’s Order that this letter be appended to the Review Officer’s Decision, or the Review Officer’s Fifth Report, removing Mr. Zazzali and myself because of my strong view that it is unfair, unbalanced and prepared without any meaningful input from us. Most unfair in our view is the implication that our services were manipulated in order to enhance our renumeration.
Let me be clear that every billing statement, case file, docket sheet, trial transcript, piece of correspondence, written opinion or any other written or electronically prepared, stored or transmitted communication emanating from us or relating to our administration of the Trial Committee is available to Your Honor should the Court wish to inquire about any of the subjects discussed in the Review Officer’s October 31, 2012 Decision.
For the record, I am proud of our service to the Trial Committee, do not regret a single action or decision made in implementation of the Trial Committee process and its execution, and am proud that we firmly established the independence of the Trial Committee and its dedication to just and fair procedures and results. I can state without fear of contradiction or subsequent circumstances that no organization within or without the District Council will be able to replicate as fine a judicial procedural system of accountability, efficiency and responsiveness as The Minders - Elizabeth Kuriyama, Marilee Loeffler, Susan Swan and supervisor Karla MacKesson - delivered to the District Council over the last 27 months.
Tuesday's groundbreaking ends years of deal-making between developers and the MTA, which owns the rail yard and will lease the development rights for 99 years for more than $1 billion.
To read more click here
Monday, December 3, 2012
Below is an excerpt from the Fifth Interim Report of the Review Officer, covering June 4, 2012, to December 3, 2012.
District Council Web Site, Information and Transparency
Section l2.G of the District Council Bylaws states that “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.”
Despite the foregoing requirement, the Executive Committee has failed the membership by either negligent lack of attention to the rule or willful avoidance of it. I have had to repeatedly prod the District Council leadership over the course of months to address this deficiency. Within the last month, I informed counsel that, without appropriate action by the Executive Committee, I would be left with no recourse but to assert my authority to compel compliance.
Within the last two weeks, the District Council web site has added a somewhat nebulous “Feedback” feature that does not expressly advise members that the Council is soliciting submissions on “the range of positions and points of view on subjects relevant to the District Council and members.”
I will reserve judgment on the “Feedback” feature (indicated by a bare and unexplained icon on the web site home page), but based on the Executive Committee’s performance to date regarding compliance with Section l2.G, I do not hold out much hope that robust compliance via “Feedback” is imminent.
I have repeatedly informed Union officials and counsel that in my view, compliance with Section l2.G could be achieved by establishing letters to the editor and editorial sections on the web site and in The Carpenter (and that a fair model could be seen by simply examining those sections of the New York Times).
It should be plain to any objective observer that Section l2.G contemplates that incumbent officers and other District Council officials be subject to fair and informed criticism and have an equal right of reply. The web site and newspaper are the property of the approximately 20,000 members of the Union, not the officers and officials responsible for their publication or maintenance.
Those officials and officers will have to decide in short order if the requirement of the Bylaws will be met or whether I will seek a court order to compel such compliance.
Some members also believe that there is a lack of “transparency” in District Council affairs and that this a result of District Council leaders not wanting to keep the membership informed.
In my view, the District Council leadership does need to do a better job of keeping members informed of the business of the District Council. However, I do not believe that they desire to conduct the affairs of the Union in secret.
In fact, the EST invariably gives detailed and straight answers to questions posed by delegates. I believe there is simply insufficient time and attention spent on keeping the members appropriately and promptly informed and that the problem can be easily addressed by committing to considering the answer to one question at the end of each day: what happened today that the membership has a right to know? The post on the member section of the District Council web site that should follow should be self-evident.
Below is an excerpt from the Fifth Interim Report of the Review Officer, covering June 4, 2012, to December 3, 2012.
The MWA Arbitration
The District Council and the MWA await a decision -- from the arbitrator who decided last May in favor of the MWA’s claim that a trade show display contractor, Gilbert Displays, was a competitor of the MWA’s members (who make and install fine millwork in residences and offices) and thus the MWA was entitled to the more favorable contract temis given to Gilbert in August 2009 -- on the question of calculation of damages and the applicability of the Consent Decree and Stipulation and Order.
I attended a meeting with the arbitrator and the parties at the American Arbitration Association offices in July 2012 at which the parties posed arguments and the arbitrator agreed to further submissions, which were made in late September.
As a result of the arbitrator’s May 2012 decision, the MWA has asserted that it is entitled to some $60 million in damages, has unilaterally reduced its payment of fringe benefit contributions to the Benefit Funds and intends to sue the Funds for the return of some $27 million already contributed to the Funds. The Benefit Funds’ attempt in the District Court to enjoin the reduced payment of fringe benefits was denied in August by Judge Louis Stanton.
The Benefit Funds’ trustees who do not have a conflict of interest must now reduce or end certain fringe benefits (including healthcare) for hundreds of MWA employees, and are in the process of providing notice of this imminent change.
I disagree with the arbitrator’s decision, which has unleashed a torrent of unintended consequences (including litigation) and a good deal of suffering upon innocent workers struggling to provide for their families.
Further, I have already stated as a matter of public record that I will move to protect the District Council from any damage award that materially harms the finances of the District Council and thereby interferes with the goals of the Consent Decree and Stipulation and Order or stymies the District Council in meeting its responsibilities pursuant to orders of the Court.
The arbitrator’s decision is currently expected on or about December 31, 2012.
(John's note: The briefs submitted by the parties in September are attached below)
|Liar Liar Lebo!|
The Resignation of the District Council President
The President of the District Council -- who also served as a trustee of the Benefit Funds and salaried assistant to the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the District Council -- resigned his positions in September, after a Notice of Possible Action was issued to him by my office on September 19, 2012.
The conduct under investigation did not relate to a violation of the Consent Decree’s permanent injunction against racketeering activity or to any act relating to loss to or theft from the Union.
He admitted to me that he lied when I questioned him about certain events relating to an official inquiry I was conducting. I consider the matter appropriately concluded with his departure.
This is an excerpt of an article we posted on September 23, 2012.
The New York City District Council of Carpenters is once again rocked by scandal as President/Benefit Fund Trustee and Bilello administration political appointee and longtime adviser, William S. Lebo was forced to resign Friday amid allegations of inappropriate behavior an informed source said.
In a brief letter posted on the councils website late Friday morning, Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Bilello wrote:
"William S. Lebo officially tendered his resignation from his position as President of the New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters on Friday, September 21, 2012. Due to personal reasons that include the tragic passing of his wife this year, Brother Lebo is unable to devote the full time and attention that is required to fully serve our membership and fulfill the responsibilities of President."
Bilello gave no thanks or praise for Lebo's work during the last nine months, no wishing him well, or mention of severance pay or the procedure to fill the vacated position.
Thursday we reported that Lebo was vetoed by Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh.
In a response to an email for comment, the RO confirmed that a "Notice of Possible Action" was served on Bill Lebo last week.
Below is an excerpt from the Fifth Interim Report of the Review Officer, covering June 4, 2012, to December 3, 2012.
The conduct of District Council delegate meetings (which I observe) has been inconsistent and sometimes problematic. The former President of the District Council too often strayed from necessary adherence to the rules of order. Though meeting materials are distributed to delegates in advance via email, delegates are too often unprepared or inadequately informed to properly raise and debate issues of importance to the District Council. This facilitates executive control of the agenda for any meeting. Required reports from various officers or function heads are not subject to time limits and are often too long and inadequately prepared. The portion of the meeting for “new business” is too late in the proceedings, when delegates are too tired and just want to go home.
The greatest problem at delegate meetings has been the frequent display of a lack of decorum and respect -- from both the floor and the dais, which is usually the result of provocation or the “tough guy” demeanor of certain participants. One such meeting, held on July 25th, led to a delegate requesting that the Inspector General and Chief Compliance Officer review the meeting (which are recorded pursuant to the Bylaws) and issue a finding of harassment (a procedure contemplated by Section 5.F of the Bylaws). The IG and CCO did not conclude that harassment had occurred. See Exhibit l.
After I reviewed their report, I informed the complaining delegate that "though reasonable men might draw different conclusions from what they observed at the July 25th delegate meeting, I am of the view that the events which were the subject of the report represent an appalling failure of decorum and procedure and that the conduct of the chair could fairly be characterized as harassment."
Despite the low points, there have also been meetings that were well run and well prepared, invariably because they were carefully planned and conducted with aides such as detailed power point presentations facilitating the proceedings. Further, essential business of the District Council, such as review and approval of all District Council expenditures by the delegates, has been diligently performed. The District Council trustees have also fulfilled their important obligation to review expenditures and report to the delegate body.
Democracy at the District Council functions but must be greatly improved. Blame can too easily be cast on officers who, though knowledgeable, serious and intelligent sometimes succumb to the stress of constantly being provoked (or who appear reluctant to disclose details of the business of the Council that they perceive as confidential at that moment). Indeed, equal responsibility lies with the delegates to insure that the intended benefits of democracy are achieved.
They must recognize their responsibility to their constituents to prepare themselves for meetings, to leam the facts about the issues of the day and to intelligently assert the plenary authority granted to them by the District Council Bylaws. I have had discussions with some delegates who have said that they and others are contemplating quitting their service. I have urged them not to do so and rather to do everything they can to participate meaningfully in meetings and realize the great potential to improve and solidify the District Council as a mature, ethical and forward thinking institution that benefits and protects its members.
This is my Fifth Report as Review Officer, covering June 4, 2012, to December 3, 2012.
It summarizes significant events affecting, and undertakings and recommendations regarding, the District Council of Carpenters and its Benefit Funds.
For a variety of reasons, the business and administration of the District Council and Benefit Funds remain on a sound footing. Though both institutions have suffered missteps in the period covered herein, they are ably run by numerous skilled professionals and employees whose yeoman performance and dedication to serving the members goes largely unheralded and even unappreciated.
There are serious challenges that must be met in, among other areas: gaining and implementing new collective bargaining agreements and compliance measures; litigation risks; continuing member apathy; collection of member dues and assessments; organizing; upgrading and gaining the benefits of technology; and improving the democratic system, which is the foundation upon which a bright future must rely.
All of these challenges must be addressed with the knowledge that any failure will likely be exploited by opportunistic racketeers and their associates.
The candidate debate is this Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5 pm on the second floor at 395 Hudson Street.
Come and meet the Candidates for District Council President.
Posted from iPhone
Sunday, December 2, 2012
After sixteen days of proceedings and trial, starting last December, on July 30, 2012 a panel of the Trial Committee (Trial Committee) of the District Council of New York and Vicinity (District Council) of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) found Charles Harkin, John Harkin and Gary Shelton (Charged Parties) not guilty of misappropriation of funds and not guilty of defrauding members. The Trial Committee did find the Charged Parties guilty of Violating the Obligation and imposed a reprimand and monetary penalties.
The District Council then moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict of not guilty on the misappropriation charge and requested that we find the Charged Parties guilty of misappropriation.
The District Council did not ask us to reconsider the jury’s verdict of not guilty concerning defrauding the members. The Charged Parties opposed the District Council’s application concerning the not guilty verdict on misappropriation. The Charged Parties, in turn, moved for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the guilty verdict - - Violating the Obligation -- and requested a reconsideration of the penalties imposed.
On October 3, 2012, we issued our Decision on Post Hearing Motions, denying all motions. In doing so, we employed the traditional and demanding test that our duty on review is not to reweigh the evidence but to decide whether there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for that verdict.
The Review Officer and District Council each then advised that we erred in applying that standard and that the correct guide is Rule l3B(2) of the Trial Committee procedures.
The Rule provides: “The presiding officer... shall have the authority upon motion of a party to... enter a ‘judgment’ notwithstanding any decision of a Panel when such decision is contrary to the weight of the evidence.”
The Review Officer and District Council ask that the Presiding Officer in this matter conduct his own assessment of the evidence de novo and substitute his judgment regarding the sufficiency of the evidence for that of the jury.
On October 17, 2012, we granted the District Council’s motion for reconsideration of our October 3, 2012 decision. Before we decide this matter, it is useful to set forth the reasons for and against reconsideration.
This case consumed nine months. The first few months involved procedural matters. The jury then heard testimony and reviewed exhibits for fourteen days. There is no evidence of bias, prejudice, improper influences or the like. The panel paid attention, asked intelligent questions, and did not rush to judgment, but deliberated carefully. Hardly biased, it found the Charged Parties guilty of Violating the Obligation and imposed a reprimand and monetary penalties.
This panel was typical of other panels with which we have worked over the past two years, comprising members who have committed themselves to that sometimes overworked but valid phrase - - Carpenter Justice.
To reverse the verdict and now find the Charged Parties guilty of misappropriation or defrauding - - or innocent of Violating the Obligation - - would not simply be a miscarriage of justice, it would be a travesty, triggering substantial questions concerning our independence, our intelligence, and, in an intellectual sense, our integrity. It also would raise profound questions concerning whether the Charged Parties received a fair hearing within the meaning of the Landrum-Griffin Act. Finally, for all of us, including the Presiding Officers, it would raise the ultimate question: quis custodiet custodes?
Voiding the verdict would compromise both justice and the process that the District Council, Review Officer, jury panels, and the Presiding Officers, working together, have implemented, when there is no principled basis so to do. It would be a cruel paradox if our last act before departure would be to sully the extraordinary efforts of the many jury members - - Union members - - who have labored to achieve fundamental fairness. Their efforts and that success is one of the most significant accomplishments of this reform effort.
What position should a Local Union take if a Member asks to audio record a meeting or if a Member simply start recording the meeting while it is in progress without asking for permission?
With the proliferation of electronic equipment in today’s world, any Member attending a meeting can record the meeting.
A Member may want to record a meeting so that he can review the recording later to ensure that the minutes of the meeting are accurate and complete. A Member may want to record a meeting so that he can prove the Local is not treating him fairly. However, when a Member turns on an audio recording device at a meeting, other Members may feel intimidated. Member may be afraid of saying something that is legally wrong and may not want to talk at the meeting if their every word is recorded.
How much privacy a person is entitled to in our society is the subject of legislation both federal and state. However, this legislation is geared towards dealing with the issue of privacy and government record keeping and private communications intercepted by the police.
At Wednesday's delegate meeting, Inspector General (IG) Scott Danielson, refused to answer several direct questions posed to him about the representations made in a November 19, opinion/report, incredibly saying, "the bylaws require me to issue a report not answer questions."
The report is in response to a complaint, that during a meeting (see article "Insanity") of the delegate body on July 25, 2012, both Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Mike Bilello and former District Council President Bill Lebo (who was forced to resign) during questioning, on the MWA crisis, became unhinged, harassed, intimidated, threaten and allowed members of the delegate body to disrupt the meeting.
I sent the IG and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) Josh Leicht, several emails regarding my dissatisfaction with their opinion.
On November 16, I posted an article calling the report a whitewash, "You have delivered a whitewash report that misrepresented EST Bilello's response to my questions by cherry-picking Bilello's comments in an effort to exonerate and portray him in the most desirable way."
Leicht responded and said, "I understand that you disagree with the opinion and it is your right to do so. Nonetheless, except to correct a typographical error in the original, the opinion will not be changed."
Below are some of the remarks I made to the IG at Wednesdays delegate meeting:
It is unfortunate your report, failed to interview other delegates or members in attendance, cherry-picked quotes, contains errors of fact, has material taken out of context, and does not accurately reflect what transpired at the delegate body meeting on July 25, 2012.
Shockingly, the only thing your report found inappropriate, was that the former president "did not retire from the Chair or follow established procedures when he injected himself into the exchange between myself and the EST."
Quoting from the report you wrote, the former president, " had the right as a union member to express his good faith opinion to what he believed, correctly or incorrectly, to be misconduct on my part."
In other words, you did not find the "good faith opinion" expressed inappropriate, you found the failure to retire from the Chair to express that "good faith opinion" inappropriate.
With all due respect, you have it all wrong!
The former president had no right to inject himself or express his opinion about my alleged misconduct whether he retires from the Chair or not.
So the one thing your report found inappropriate, is inappropriate for all the wrong reasons.
I want to read something, this is a quote from the Review Officer (RO):
"Though reasonable men might draw different conclusions from what they observed at the July 25th delegate meeting, I am of the view that the events which were the subject of the report represent an appalling failure of decorum and procedure and that the conduct of the chair could fairly be characterized as harassment."
Question, Can you explain how given the same evidence, your report fails to draw the same conclusions as the RO and explain why there is such a disparity in views between yourself and the RO?
The IG refused to answer.
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When: Thursday, December 6th, 3:30 pm
Where: Herald Square (Meet at 36th & Broadway, 2 blocks north of Herald Square)
You MUST sign In & Out with DC Organizers to receive credit for Union Participation.
The NYCDC is participating in this rally to stand up for good jobs so we can move the country forward. They have formed an alliance with other building trades unions and SEIU 32BJ to fight for good jobs and responsible development – it’s called Build Up NYC – and we will be marching together on Thursday December 6th at 3:30pm
Please wear your Hardhat and Union T-Shirt
Join the Fight for Good Jobs and Strong Communities and Build Up New York’s Middle Class!
Skanska USA and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) today announced that B2, the first residential tower that is part of the Atlantic Yards Development in Brooklyn, will be built utilizing modular construction.
The groundbreaking on the 32-story building will be held on December 18 and the building is expected to open in 2014.
In addition, Skanska USA announced their partnership with FCRC to create a new company called FC + Skanska Modular, LLC (FCS Modular) that will build the modular components in a 100,000 square-foot space located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They estimate that there will be 125 unionized workers employed at the fabrication facility beginning in late spring, 2012 when modular production is fully under way.
Gary LaBarbera, the President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, announced as well that the workers would be organized into a newly formed Modular Division of the Building and Construction Trades Council.
While high-rise modular technology has been initially developed for use at Atlantic Yards, this new industry has the potential to create modular components for construction projects across New York City and worldwide, becoming the first major manufacturing expansion in New York City since manufacturing began its decline over a generation ago.
By Ian Steadman
A Chinese construction company aims to build the tallest building in the world in only 90 days.
Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) claims the 838m-tall SkyCity One will be assembled in the southern Chinese city of Changsha from prefabricated materials built offsite. The building will be 10m taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the tallest manmade structure on earth.
SkyCity One, with a rather imposing design, will contain 1,610,000m2 across 220 storeys, containing a mix of residential, commercial and retail space and capacity for between 70,000 to 120,000 people. BSB estimates the cost of the project to be roughly £400 million, a surprisingly low figure considering it cost £967 million for the Burj Khalifa, and other megatall buildings around the world tend to have budgets around the £1 billion mark. The company claims that their unique construction method, with 95 percent of the building completed before they've even broken ground on the foundations, will keep costs down.
BSB has experience throwing up tall buildings in a short period of time, as this video of a 30 story skyscraper built by the company in just 15 days near a lake in Hunan province attests.
However, it does little to assuage the worries of many Chinese that the country is urbanising so rapidly that construction quality is being sacrificed for speed, and buildings could be prone to collapsing in earthquakes (as tragically happened in 2008 in the city of Dujiangyan).
Local authorities have given the project the green light, and the company now merely awaits approval from central government. BSB's Zhang Yue claims that the company could start construction as early as November 2012, and finish by early 2013. The tower has been designed by an architect based in Dubai, BSB said.
As a comparison, the Empire State Building took 410 days to build from start to finish, and is under half as tall as SkyCity One's planned height. The Burj Khalifa took a much lengthier 1931 days between construction beginning in 2004 and the building opening in January 2010.
China's tallest building is currently the 492m Shanghai World Financial Centre, but there are now dozens of buildings scheduled for completion over the next decade which will be taller (such as the Shanghai Tower, due for completion in 2014 and until now the tallest planned Chinese megatall at 632m).
Saturday, December 1, 2012
To drastically reduce costs and and raise efficiency for the District Council Trial process as requested by the delegate body, three applicants were recommended to and approved by the delegates on Wednesday, Nov. 28 to serve as Trial Committee chairman on a rotational basis.
By decision dated October 31, 2012, the Review Officer 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.
The new Trial Committee chairs will consist of:
Barbara Deinhardt – Arbitrator/Mediator with vast experience in the State of New York Employee Relations Board who also previously served as the Election Monitor for the NYC District Council of Carpenters elections and as counsel to the Trial Committee for the Utility Workers Local 1-2;
Carol Mann Esq. – Deputy County District Attorney – Kings County, NY – Labor Relations Officer/Hearing Officer for Labor Relations Board; and
Santo Barravecchio – Retired Captain NYPD – served in the Advocates Office and Stony Brook University as hearing officer/manager of the Labor Relations Department.
The new process, which is empowered by the UBC Constitution with an independent chairman, will drastically reduce costs to the council and maintain a fair and just process for bringing members up on charges and properly adjudicating the case in a timely and efficient manner.