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Breaking News...The New York City District Council of Carpenters is once again rocked by scandal as Executive Secretary-Treasurer Michael Bilello illegally diverted millions of dollars of a contractual raise into the welfare fund and now may face a possible veto by Review Officer (RO) Dennis Walsh.
Though not vested by the District Council Bylaws with authority to do so, we just learned that on July 1, 2012 Bilello failed to seek delegate body approval and diverted a $2.59 per hour contract raise with the Hoist Trade Association, increasing the Welfare Fund contribution from $11.25 to $13.84 (the highest member contribution).
The Hoist Trade Association Agreement was passed in the direct membership vote in March last year. It is one of five agreements sent out by the delegates for a direct vote and the only one that passed (see letter). The Hoist agreement covers approximately 600 to 800 members who work over one million man-hours a year. It is estimated that at least $1.5 million has been illegally diverted out of the pockets of hard working hod hoist carpenters.
Hod Hoist Carpenters are members of Local 1556, they erect and maintain the material and personnel hoist on new construction sites. They also work on scaffolding and sidewalk bridges across the city. In July 2011, UBC General President Douglass McCarron dissolved Local 1456 (former Timbermen/Hod Hoist) and Local 1536, (former Dockbuilders) the memberships of both local unions were merged into the new Local 1556, which has approximately 3300 members.
Roto Born, a hod hoist shop steward working at St Patrick’s Cathedral was unaware he even received a raise.
“I am working on one of the largest scaffolding jobs in the city and the men and I didn’t even know we received a raise, why was the entire raise put into the welfare fund and why weren’t we even notified about this," Born stated.
In an email to the RO requesting comment on the illegal allocation, the RO stated, “if that was done it was without notice to me.”
I contacted several district council delegates and they all stated that they have “no recollection of the hoist raise ever being mentioned or debated” nor is there any reference to the raise recorded in the delegate meeting minutes.
In a March 21, 2013 letter to Judge Berman, the RO stated among other things, “there is no question that pursuant to Section 21 of the District Council Bylaws, the delegate body decides all questions of allocation of trust fund monies."
Bilello was elected in December 2011 running on a platform of members rights, since being sworn in he has become a hypocrite, giving lip service to his campaign promises and has shown a pattern of violating the Bylaws and the trust of the membership.
"Membership rights must be given back, plain and simple. Members have the right to full transparency of the Council’s actions. This requires real communication between the officers of the council and the membership. Members have the right to full information before crucial decisions are made so that they can voice their concerns and wishes to their delegates before the final decisions are made. Members have the right to know how their delegates vote for them."
In a March 21, 2013 letter to judge Berman, counsel for the District Council, James Murphy among other things stated, that the “WC&C CBA was properly ratified by the District Council.
“Petitions or letters to the Court challenging the procedure adopted by the Delegate Body to ratify the WC&C CBA are attempts to subvert democracy and the representational governance of the District Council.”
“Those efforts should not be undermined by those who would undermine democratic procedures by employing a quasi heckler’s veto.”
On March 21, 2013 Judge Berman issued an Order to Mr. Walsh and Mr. Murphy, both “are requested to supply authorities for the proposition that this Court can approve a collective bargaining agreement where only an MOU has been approved by a delegate body."
In a letter to Judge Berman, newly elected Local 157 President Mitchell Sonntag among other things described the delegate body as a “dysfunctional mess.”
“It is a Soviet-style democracy, with the outward appearance of a functioning democracy when in reality it is staged show that benefits the oligarchy of the District Council. We have experienced By-Law violations by the leadership, selective dissemination of information, omission of information, seemingly purposefully abridged minutes that clearly do not accurately reflect the proceedings. District Council employee/delegates have a super-majority in the delegate body and they appear to be utilizing parliamentary tactics that tend to put a damper on true exchange and meaningful debate at delegate meetings to the detriment of the membership.”
Will a notice of possible veto be forthcoming to our hypocritical EST...Stay tuned.