Sunday, December 8, 2013

Court Conference on December 4, 2013

Below is an excerpt from the Court Conference on December 4, 2013 between Review Officer Dennis Walsh and Judge Berman.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, your Honor. Dennis Walsh, the review officer.

The frustrating thing about the District Council of Carpenters is that it only responds to negative inducement. One would have thought that after all these years of oversight, the pendency of a consent decree since 1994, and the stipulation and order since June of 2010 that the leadership at the union would have decided, finally, we must engage in rigorous self-analysis. We must figure out how to improve this institution so that it is perfected, so that not only is corruption eradicated, but that it functions as the modern, efficient, compliant business that it must be to benefit its 20,000 members and their families.

We had here this morning because the Sword of Damocles is palpable on the head of this union. Nothing has changed in terms of the quintessential horse who not only will not be led to sweet water, but falls down and says drag me to that sweet water, to valleys of green grass that will make him strong, like a child who won't eat his spinach, and that's all. When is it going to end? When is the district council step up and say we understand these problems and, with alacrity, we are going to solve them?

I think that among the options that the Court to set a rigorous deadline for perfection of this system, no matter how many human beings they have to throw at it, so that they can come back to this Court and say we have 100 percent of the information in this system that the members will need to use Operation Watchdog. And if that is not achieved quickly, I think it's fair to abolish the contracts, to set the parties back to the table, but to hold on to the imperative of --

THE COURT: So abolish --

MR. WALSH: -- electronic reporting.

THE COURT: -- which contracts?

MR. WALSH: All of the contracts previously approved by the Court on the promise that this compliance program would work.

THE COURT: You mean the collective bargaining agreements.

MR. WALSH: Yes, the collective bargaining agreements is what I mean by the contracts.

I think that it would be entirely fair for the Court to request that the district council affirm within 30 days that they are at least at 90 percent accuracy and without too much advocacy, relying exclusively on facts, be able to demonstrate to the Court, to the government, and to my office that this is a reliable representation.

THE COURT: So there is one other issue that's troubling me that's not so subtle, actually, in the seventh interim report that you mentioned, and that is whether and why, if the answer is no, the district council is not responding to your suggestions, in particular with respect to these issues, and I think we need to air that too. I don't quite get it. The report even suggests, or doesn't suggest, it states that Judge Jones was hired to speak to you as if Mr. Murphy couldn't or didn't or wouldn't. I don't quite get that whole dynamic here. But it is, it is contained in this report, and I'm not sure I'm understanding that element.

MR. WALSH: Judge, what was clear a few months ago was I thought that I had reached agreement with this union to give them an opportunity to take on the challenge of upgrading their IT platform and their business systems. I addressed, as you know, the delegate body on two occasions. I addressed the executive committee. And I thought that all their concerns had been addressed, yet the executive committee voted against the recommendation to upgrade. The delegate body confirmed that they didn't want to upgrade.

There was then a movement to hire counsel to fight me, in plain English. I observed delegate meetings and listened to recordings of others where the sentiment of the delegates was very clearly expressed that they'd had enough of Dennis Walsh, that they had enough of the review officer suggesting or even demanding that certain change be effected, that they wanted to hire a lawyer to fight me on that.

Now, thankfully, Judge Jones has been selected and she has been immensely helpful in I think cutting to the chase with her clients and discussing reality and various imperatives on an objective basis. She has never intimated that it is ever her intention to be adversarial, and I am grateful for and respect her efforts every day at the district council.

The sentiments though that led to this chain of event is still there, and I expressly remark that there are people who absolutely chafe at the notion that they have to deal with the review officer and the oversight of this Court and that's going to be an ongoing problem and I don't know how it's going to play out.



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