I want to begin by mentioning our fallen brother, Michael McQuade, beloved husband and father of two. Michael, a Dockbuilder Diver, died while working on the job Sunday, February 17, 2013. We mourn his family’s loss, which is our loss as well. While at the funeral service, I stood between VP Mike Cavanaugh and President Steve McInnis and was struck by how important it is for us to be there for our members and their families at all times. I offer my sincere condolences to the McQuade Family.
One of the most pressing of the many issues this District Council has had to deal with over the past year since we’ve been in office is the drastic cuts to the Welfare Fund benefits. These cuts, instituted this past June, were the result of a decision made by an arbitrator prior to our being elected and unbeknownst to us until taking office. These cuts have since become one of our primary issues to rectify. One clear path forward to attaining that goal is increasing the number of man hours contributed to our benefits funds.
Man hours contributed to the funds as the result of our labor have fluctuated from 23 million a year, five years ago, down to 15 million, two years ago, and up to 18.5 this past year. The problem is almost two million of those hours don’t stay here in the New York City District Council of Carpenters Benefit Funds. Instead, they are reciprocated to the benefit funds of other district councils. Members of those councils work those hours in our jurisdiction. That was the primary reason for negotiating the Wall Ceiling Agreement with what is known as the Full Mobility clause. The ability to capture those hours by matching members not from this District Council with a member of this District Council is a key component of making our Welfare Fund healthy again. We need to keep every hour possible that is worked here in our benefit funds. Additionally, increasing the contribution rate to the Welfare Fund—when the raises from that contract are realized— is a path to ending co-payments, bringing back dental and eliminating retiree monthly premiums.
The Wall Ceiling contract was negotiated last August but could not be implemented due to the requirements imposed by the Review Officer (RO). The Full Mobility manning provisions could not move forward without the approval of the RO, the US Attorney, and finally Judge Berman who oversees the Consent Decree and Stipulation and Order, under which the RO operates. This all required the building of an electronic system which shop stewards would report hours on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis as is done now with paper steward reports. Finally, after building, testing and training of payroll department employees and stewards the whole program went before Judge Berman in February and could be implemented very soon. Thank you for your patience while we painstakingly navigated through this long process. A detailed explanation of this compliance program can be found on the District Council website.
Also about to be put to a ratification vote is the Building Contractors Association (BCA)Agreement which we have been negotiating over the past year. The details of that agreement are also available on our website. The Agreement contains language for a Market Recovery Addendum to capture work our signatory contractors do not have a market share of or have lost to the non-union sector. It is up to us to capture those hours for our members and our benefit funds.
Looking ahead we are focused on continuing with aggressive organizing campaigns to recapture work we have lost to non-union developers, contractors and out of town entities that have broken into this market and have no loyalty to this city, or the tradespeople that have built it. It is critical to our survival and one of many things we focus on every day, and we need your continued support.
Source The Carpenter 2013