the newsletter of UBC DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT
"
at the cutting edge of union democracy"
THE KERF: North American Edition, edited by Tom Crofton
Southern Wisconsin Carpenters Caucus

30 May 2002 -- LOCAL 314 ELECTION PREVIEW

Attempts to form a slate, to run for the interest of the members, have resulted in sufficient controversy, and brought down enough intimidation to prevent many good people from identifying publicly with the Wisconsin Carpenters for a Democratic Union. Luckily, for the rank and file, many of the individuals who could have joined such a slate, chose to run independently anyway. The interests of the members at large, will be served well, by electing them. The failure to come together to raise funds, and publicize a common agenda makes the task of picking these people out of the crowded list of nominees difficult, for those who are not already familiar with their names. The nature of the electoral system in the UBC, where positions on the issues are not allowed to be expressed, lends extra power to the incumbents, due to their proximity to the powerful decision makers in the union. One key to picking candidates, who still have the interest of the members primarily in their focus, is to find those not responsible for the condition our organization is in today.

WHERE ARE WE?

We can't vote for contracts.
We can't vote for Business Agents.
We can't vote for Managers (EST and assistants) We can't vote for International officers. We have lost our monthly meetings.
We have lost the standard order of business, including new business, at most of our meetings.

Who's Responsible?

The officers and delegates from the last election(s) were at the helm during the loss of our rights. Few if any complained at the Council level. Few, if any, tried to bring to the floor any of the ideas and concerns of the members in the local. Few, if any, made motions to amend the bylaws in the interest of the rank and file. Few, if any, deserve another term. Few, if any, of the names on the approved list, are going to stand up for you in the next term.

The UBC has purposely created a system where paid employees of the Regional Council get elected as delegates to the Council, and then elect their boss, the EST (Executive Secretary Treasurer, Jimmy Moore). This system is the worst aspect of corporate unionism as practiced by the McCarron Team, because it cuts the owners of the organization out of the decision making process. The only way to turn our union around is to reform this political machine back into a rank and file lead union. The first step is to elect only those members, who work with the tools, to officer and delegate positions.
The following candidates for office are employees of the union, and therefore should not be elected to delegate or officer positions by members seeking reform:

Tom Benish, John Merrit, Bob Hegge

The other members running for positions declined, with only three exceptions, from expressing their views on the votes we have lost, and the other issues facing our organization. The failure of the system, to present clear choices, is a failure we all share the blame for. Many long time members have allowed a very undemocratic system to be the norm, for decades. The recent crackdown on dissent is only the latest version of heavy handed behavior on the part of our elected officials. Those who do not share a willingness to stand up and confront the machine in public, have an opportunity to do so in private, June 3rd, in the voting booth. See you there.

WCDU PLATFORM
The upcoming elections for delegates and officers in the UBC offer opportunities for members to affect their organization. Ironically, the standard method of nominating and electing the leadership of the local and council leadership does not allow for candidates' opinions to be expressed. There is no forum for ideas to be presented and discussed. The concept of developing a platform of ideas that candidates stand upon is missing. The chance for members to know the visions of their candidates, regarding the purpose and direction of their union, has been removed. Combined with the loss of votes for contracts, agents, and managers; the intentional denial of debate on the issues has turned the UBC into a political machine that is not controlled by its owners, the members.
Events of the last few years have proven that restructuring for the benefit of the administration of the union is not always in the interest of the members. For all of the words written in official publications, and spoken on our behalf, how many of us were consulted as to our wishes? Those of us who witnessed the Convention 2000, in Chicago, watched as the machine installed a series of anti-member initiatives. The 1700 staffers and wannabees who yelled "5 more years", were talking as much about their higher than average income and perks, as they were about the future of the McCarron Team.
The last two years have shown how the money of the rank and file can be used to intimidate dissent. Efforts have been made around the continent to destroy the lives of those who stood up for their members. Trusteeships, mergers, intimidation, blackballing, threats to expel, and threats of violence have all served to scare the working people of this union. The working peoples' dues funded these efforts. In contrast, the efforts of reformers are funded on a shoestring, out of the pocket of members who know something needs to be done.
We are correct. Something needs to be done. As dues payers, we own the UBC. As workers, we need the organization for collective bargaining, and skills upgrading. As family members, we need health benefits for our spouses, our kids, and ourselves. As future retirees, we need pension income that will free us from financial worry. Unions were created to fulfill these needs. Our union has strayed from a "members first" orientation. In the name of knowing what is best for the dumbass dues payers, our leadership has removed the checks and balances, that protect the rights of the members. In the cause of trying to impress the business community, our leadership has given itself their lifestyle. In an effort to consolidate control, our leadership has changed the rules so it can hire and fire the people who elect it. No government short of totalitarian has ever had that power.
Beyond the simple notion of us getting what we need, is the issue of how we are treated. Since the union is a membership organization, it exists for the members. Unlike an extended family, where the older generations are deferred to on the basis of their seniority, in the union each member has equal say. Unlike in the military, where orders need to be followed from the top down, in a chain of command structure; in the union, direction should come from the ranks. Unlike on the job, where carpenters follow the directions of the bosses appointed by the company for whom they work; in the union the carpenters are the bosses. Working people need a place where they can stand on their own, and use their initiative to help create their world, rather than following orders. That's why the organization was formed, and that's what the carpenters need today. We need an organization that responds to our desires. We need leadership that will research new possibilities for fulfilling our wishes, and then report back to us, so we can decide which ones we want to follow through with. The ultimate job description, for those in our employment, as leaders, is to serve the members. We must not allow those who represent us, to use the delivery of these services, as a club to keep us in line. We must not allow the agents, whom we hire to help us in our struggles, to control us. A major role for labor unions is negotiating contracts with employers. Members give up the right to negotiate their own individual deals, in exchange for the power of joining up with a larger group. The resulting collective bargaining creates a benchmark wage rate and working condition. These minimum standards benefit all of those covered by the contract, and directly influence those outside the union. The power of collective bargaining is reduced when the contracts are not created by, nor ratified by the members. Member input into this vital area creates the power of solidarity that gives collective bargaining its force. Furthermore, those agents negotiating wages rates for us need to have first hand knowledge of our working conditions, and the purchasing power of the income they are agreeing to. Recent experience living, and working, under the contract is a vital precondition for being able to renegotiate it. Our new contract proves this. No working member would ever accept a six year contract with declining raises in future years. The uncertainty is too great, unless you can vote yourself a raise when you need it!
The current evolution of the restructured UBC relies on a permanent class of administrative staffers who never experience the work the members do. Justifiable reimbursement for work related transportation expenses, and evening meetings, has evolved into a pay structure that significantly exceeds the rates of the members. Working conditions for staffers are vastly different than those of most members. Double pensions and expense accounts have insulated the administration from the daily concerns of those who pay the bills. Most importantly, the members have lost the ability to hire the staffers, due to the manipulation of the system, by the staffers. A political machine has replaced Union Democracy. The sanctity of the Local, where members have power to direct the Union, has been destroyed; and replaced by distant Regional Councils, where members are not allowed to witness the decision making process. Heads of the councils (EST's) have the power to hire and fire all staffers. These employees are told to run for elected delegate and officer positions, so they can rehire their boss. Since these members are the most visible individuals in the locals, and since they hand out job assignments to members, they are in the best position to get elected. Those staffers, who run for office, and fail, are often fired. The result is a feedback loop of favor and privilege, where the only losers are the rank and file members.
Far from following the wisdom of the early founders of the union movement to keep the members involved in their local union, the UBC has chosen the path of disenfranchisement for its dues payers. Rather than locals of 400 members, we have locals of several thousand, covering large geographical areas. The intention is to prevent members from going to the meetings. We have lost the right to choose our agents. We have lost the right to choose our EST's. We have lost the right to choose our international leaders. We have lost the right to negotiate our contracts through elected representatives, and we have lost the right to ratify contracts directly. These actions were all taken in the name of restructuring for the benefit of the union. Clearly, only the members are in the way of the union becoming what its leaders want it to be. But what is that?
The apparent answer is that the McCarron Team's corporate unionism is designed to make one stop shopping possible for contractors. Since other trades feel they deserve some of the work, as they have in the past, they are the enemy. Undercutting their wages is the weapon, and the journeyman is the soldier. Just as in the military, no questions are allowed, no explanations need be given. For the work done by trades who are paid better than carpenters, this strategy saves the contractor some money (if the carpenters can do the work as efficiently as the skilled trades they replace). If the iron workers get a large raise this year, we will be $5/ hour cheaper than them. For work, which usually commands a lesser rate, pre-apprentices, apprentices, and special contracts offer an enticement to the contractors. The replacement of laborers by helpers is on the rise again. As some organizers have stated "We are only concerned about carpenters, and the other trades have been stealing our work anyway."
How an organization that was founded to improve the lives of its members, can place them in harm's way, without their consent, is a paradox that needs addressing, Another is that the very members who could start the change happening, with their attendance on the one or two nights a year when a real vote occurs, will often find reason enough to be disgusted, and say that their vote won't make a difference. A secret ballot, marked in private by half of the members of the local, will yield a stunning victory for reform in every local in the union that has reform candidates nominated. Chances for reform are great, if the only criterion used in choosing, is that the nominee does not work for the union! Returning the votes to members working with the tools is the best way to bring them back into active participation in their organization. Discussion of real issues in union halls will ensure an educated membership.
The Union exists for the members. It is composed of the members. It is run by the members. The simple statement "One member, One vote" sums that up.
Leadership exists to facilitate. It is the employee of the members. It is the agent of the members. It acts as a research arm for member initiatives. It acts as a lobbying arm for the members. It coordinates.
Leadership is not a career above and beyond regular carpentry work. It is not a better paying position, insulated from the regular daily working conditions of the rank and file. It is not a patronage system. It is not a corporate environment. It does not determine policy. It does not make deals with political and business interests, without the direction of the membership.


SUMMER UPDATE - June, 2001 - THE HEAT IS ON.
It ain't the heat, it's the humidity, and summer finds our leaders in several sticky situations. Efforts to distance the UBC from the AFL-CIO have led to raiding parties from other internationals, and a temporary truce. McCarron has broken his own amendment, to his own constitution, by allowing local participation in Building Trades Councils, after officially pulling out of the parent body. This backpedaling is only possible from an administration that uses the rules to limit the rights of the members, but not the actions of the employees, of those members. British Columbian Carpenters have continued their march towards independence, while Mr. McCarron supports American timber producers, union or not, over their Canadian unionized Brothers. Atlanta rank and file carpenters elected to the top offices of their local are pushing back attempts to take away their democratically won power, with the help of the Department of Labor. A 20 million dollar lawsuit designed to stifle the efforts of one retired carpenter, who seeks to uncover pension fraud, has been dropped because continuing the suit would allow the carpenter's attorney access to information that would prove his point. 40 years of labor law has finally blossomed into a full fledged right for the members. Through the efforts of a few individuals in the International Association of Machinists, a provision of the LMRDA that requires unions to provide their members with the information regarding their rights provided in the Act, has been confirmed by the courts. All unions are required to provide their members with the information, that they are protected by federal law for free speech, fair elections, due process, and financial accountability. Until this recent development, only the Masters, Mates, and Pilots have ever voluntarily offered their members this information. In an apparent effort to deter a suit, the UBC decided to print the information in the "Carpenter". While this may seem fair and proper, the use of blue ink on blue paper (to prevent photocopying), smacks of unethical behavior. An organization of the members would practice the principles at every meeting instead of hiding them in a sea of gobbledygook (information taken from the AUD's "Union Democracy Review).

THAT CRAZY AFL-CIO THANG
What Is He Thinking? And Why Now?
by Painters and Allied Trades General President Michael E. Monroe
--also available as PDF at http://www.ibpat.org/NewsEvents/journal.html
It was a sad day for the entire labor movement on March 19, when the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO. This was the work primarily of an arrogant and misguided leadership, and particularly President Douglas McCarron, who pushed the Carpenters executive board into this action. After years of promoting predatory raiding policies against his brothers and sisters in the other building trades crafts and AFL-CIO unions, ignoring the wrath and the penalties of the AFL-CIO, McCarron has made a grand display of picking up his tools and going off to work by himself. But don't let McCarron's protestations fool you. What he's been telling his members about the Carpenters' relationship with the AFL-CIO, and the truth of the matter, are two entirely different stories. McCarron knows full well that the UBC has been violating the AFL-CIO constitution - the rules all the unions made for all to live by - and he knows full well the ramifications of his disaffiliation, for his members and for the labor movement. Unfortunately, a lot of good, honest and hardworking Carpenters will get hurt in the process. By disaffiliating, McCarron prevents UBC members from actively participating in any state, provincial or local building trades council of the Building and Construction Trades Department, or in any AFL-CIO state or local central body. He has willfully separated them from the movement that links and mobilizes organized workers, for the good of us all. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Building and Construction Trades Department President Ed Sullivan continue working to convince the Carpenters to rejoin the House of Labor, and we support these efforts wholeheartedly. I made a motion to that effect at meetings of both the BCTD and the Metal Trades Department. We are legally bound, and we will continue to honor, all legal collective bargaining agreements, PLAs, and International agreements with the Carpenters at the local union and district council levels. There will be no chaos on the job sites where our members and the other members of the building trade unions work. Sadly, the chaos McCarron is causing is with in the labor movement, not on the job sites, and he must pay the price. We will not, we cannot, continue to work with the Carpenters union at any level - local, regional or national. To continue to partner with the UBC at some local levels would only encourage the bullying tactics of McCarron elsewhere. He has chosen to go alone, and must bear the isolation that comes with his decision. This does not mean, however, that we should not talk with Carpenters members individually. In fact, it is imperative that we talk with all of them. You have good friends among the Carpenters, and so do I. As their brothers and sisters, we must make sure they understand the facts behind McCarron's action, and also understand just how foolhardy and self-destructive his act is for their union and for the entire labor movement. McCarron has told his members that, he has tried to work with the leadership of the AFL-CIO, but that's not true. He has been "missing in action" before the AFL-CIO Executive Council from the very beginning. Any good union member understands that the way you work to influence change is to participate in the union - to attend meetings, set forth your thoughts, get involved in debates, be a part of the democratic process. McCarron has not done that. Of the 12 AFL-CIO Executive Council meetings and numerous AFL-CIO committee meetings I've attended since being elected general president of the IUPAT in September 1998, McCarron has attended only one. He did not stay for the entire meeting, and he did not participate in any discussion. He has told his members, (and the press) that he is disaffiliating because the AFL-CIO has raised its' per capita. Well, he missed the meeting in which the Executive Council debated the per capita increase, when the other union presidents were told that, to continue the federation's good programs in education, organizing and political action, the AFL-CIO would either have to raise the per capita or gain 350,000 new members. When the issue of the per capita increase was raised, the UBC was two years' delinquent on its per capita payments, and it was paying on fewer than 40,000 members. I told the council then that if the Carpenters were not behind in their payments, and if they were paying on all of their 400,000-plus members, we wouldn't need to raise the per capita. The increase that McCarron complained about was due to the fact that the Carpenters were not paying their fair share. Doug McCarron caused the per capita increase in the AFL- CIO, not John Sweeney. I was also in a meeting of the BCTD when McCarron, rattling his sabers as a threat to the other building trades union, said that his union could go it alone. "After I've paid all my bills and all the salaries for my staff," he said, "my profit line is at $50 million." His profit line? Is he a labor leader or is he a young corporate raider? Perhaps McCarron needs to give UBC members a break on dues, if he's hoarding all that wealth as a "profit line." But no matter how much money the Carpenters stockpile, by overcharging their members or by underpaying the AFL-CIO, the UBC cannot be a more effective organization working by itself. No union, standing alone, can accomplish what a federation of unions can accomplish on behalf of the members of each federated union. It's called solidarity. It works. And it is needed now more than ever. All true union members and union leaders know that. If McCarron does not stand with his brothers and sisters in the labor movement, then who does he stand with? Is he in league with employers? With the right-wing, anti- union crowd that controls the White House and the Congress? I say, "yes, he is." Those who know me know that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Our union supports elected officials who advocate on behalf of working people, regardless of their party label. But President Bush is part of the radical right-wing of his party, someone who does not believe that working people should have the benefit of representation. Bush has struck with a vengeance against unions because our movement, in good conscience, worked against his campaign. McCarron's actions, creating chaos within the labor movement, definitely provides comfort to the enemies of the labor movement, the Republican leadership in the White House and in the Congress. And it raises the question of "why now?" Why has the general president of the Carpenters chosen to purposefully weaken the labor movement at a time when we are under attack by these powerful antiunion forces? The jurisdictional disputes have been around for decades, and this is not the first time the Carpenters have disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO over jurisdictional issues. It happened in 1910, 1921, 1928 and again in 1953. The solution is not to disaffiliate. The solution is to engage in a dialogue with the other unions and their leaders. I personally told Mr. McCarron that we would help him get his concerns before the entire labor movement, if they were legitimate, and that I would work with him in committee to resolve the issues if he returned to the AFL-CIO. But he refused. When I was first elected as general president of the IUPAT, I offered to join in total partnership with the UBC on joint political action, joint bargaining and joint organizing. McCarron's response was: "We can work with you in some places, but not everywhere." In other words, we can help him, but he won't help us. Well, my offer still stands and he knows that. IUPAT members may remember that our union introduced a resolution, back in August 2000 at the BCTD convention, that prohibited raiding by affiliated unions and called for all of us, to respectfully support each others' efforts to advance the interests of our members. I noted then, speaking from the floor, that McCarron was not on the dais with the other union presidents. He wasn't even in attendance, even though he was the main culprit. Again, he refused to participate in the democratic process of the trade union movement. Our resolution was adopted overwhelmingly by the delegates who were in attendance. Working together is the union way. But McCarron refuses to live by the rules all of the rest of us work under. We have done everything in our power to defend our members' rightful jurisdictions, within the AFL-CIO, under the constitutional rules we have supported for every union that was attempting to protect and advance their members, including the Carpenters. I still hold out the hope that the Carpenters will join in that process, which works for all of us in every true union. McCarron has stated that the primary reason for his disaffiliation with the rest of the movement is not because of anything John Sweeney has done, but because of what John has not done. I don't know who Doug McCarron thinks he is, or what he thinks he has done for the good of our movement. But I do know the honest and diligent work John Sweeney and the officers of the AFL-CIO have done. Under Sweeney's leadership, the AFL-CIO has given all union members a reason to believe, a reason to participate, and a reason to be proud of the collective efforts of AFL-CIO unions, on behalf of their respective members. John Sweeney's efforts to redirect the labor movement, in my opinion, are unassailable. To be strong, our movement must build solidarity. By McCarron's action to disaffiliate, the Carpenters are chipping away at the strength of organized workers everywhere in every union, including his own. We must stand together, lest we fall separately. Pass the word.

The NYC Rank and File E-Board Responds
I have read the letter from the G.P of the painters union and asked myself, who really cares what him or Sweeney think? It's obvious, that their focus is on the money they are losing, and not the fact that we suffer under a dictatorship. Why else would they engage "Cash Mac" in a dialogue, and try to get him to return? Are there any prerequisites like restoring an election by popular vote? I doubt it. As far as labor leaders go, at the present time, all of labor is left sorely lacking in terms of men or women who place principles before personalities. We can not look to anyone else to save us, we must make our own way. Take, with a grain of salt, anything said by someone still looking to lay down with the devil, McCarron.

Fraternally,
Gary A Lail Sr. Treasurer -local 926
Brooklyn N.Y, The Heart Of The Rebellion

Building Trade Unions in Turmoil
(6/25/01)
By Sherie Winston
from THE ENGINEERING NEWS-RECORD

Since the carpenters' union's unprecedented defection from the AFL-CIO in March, the picture has been getting fuzzier for the Federation's Building and Construction Trades Department. The department's financial health is ailing, some believe its' leadership is flailing, and its Heavy and Highway Division is expected to withdraw and become an independent entity within the next few months. Some observers say it is time for BCTD to rethink its mission. (click for full ENR text)


(Ed. note; Clearly a lot of action takes place behind the scenes that the average union member doesn't understand. How is the mission of the Heavy and Highway division special and unique from the rest of the construction industry? Is the flexibility, and independence, desired by this group of contractors similar to the "wall to walll" scheme of Doug McCarron, or is it closer to the "Team" concept of the ABC? The scariest part of all of these maneuvers by the leaders of the internationals is; that while the rank and filers pay the bills, we have no input, nor vote in the decisions, but are the ones most directly affected by the outcomes!)

THE CANUCKS
Making Changes Without McCarron
UBC's GP Doug McCarron is slipping farther and farther into obscurity in BC as we modernize without him. Last Tuesday Vancouver Local 1995 held a special called meeting to discuss and vote on local bylaw changes concerning dispatch, organizing, and meeting rules. There was a healthy debate, with both pro-democracy and pro-International forces getting their chance at the mike, and eventually all the changes were approved. The changes are significant because they start the implementation of a more fair dispatch system (convert to a telephone bid system), bring in stricter rules on membership cooperation in organizing (discourage antiunion Superintendent/Foremen members), and establish new "respect" rules at membership meetings. None of these rules are rocket science but what is important is that members were given a vote on the matters and membership approval essential for any rule's success. This vote is another victory for the pro-democracy forces because it proves we can change for the better with the members but without McCarron. Josh Coles
Local 1995 Vancouver,B.C.

A letter to Doug
I recently received the May/June issue of the Carpenters magazine. I am deeply concerned with statements made in the article "Carpenters Grab Some ole-time Union Religion." To read that the Carpenters Union as a whole is part of a coalition that is petitioning the US Government for duties on Canadian softwood is a deplorable act. Your position on Canadian softwood is a slap in the face to every brother and sister in Canada. Your position has divided our Union at the border and further damaged the relationship between yourself and the members of this union. Your actions taken on Canadian softwood are done to please your political allies, not for the benefit of the Brotherhood. This would not have happened, had you consulted with the membership in Canada. Canadians know it goes against your grain to ask the opinion of the members of our union. Next time you chose a critical path for the UBC, you may want to ask for a second opinion - the members. Fraternally,
Paul R. Nedelec, Business Rep.
Local 2300 Castlegar BC

Another letter to the GP
I have read the article that was printed in the May/June issue of the Carpenters Magazine on the coalition that is being formed with other Unions to petition the US Government for duties on our softwood lumber. I had to read it twice to make sure I understood what it meant because it is with total disbelief that you a so called Brother of mine would endorse and help fight something of this magnitude. In the article it says that, and I quote, "there could be an extra 4 million to spend a year, it can bring focused clout to issues, the bargaining table, outreach and organizing. At the very least the union has everyone's attention." Well let me tell you Brother, it sure got my attention. How the hell do you expect the Organizers in Canada to go after the nonunion saw mills and then tell them that once they are in the union their dues will be used against them to fight softwood from going to the US. I also find it appalling that my dues are being used for the same thing. I wonder in your arrogance, did you forget who you are suppose to be representing? Let me tell you Brother that you are sure not representing me or my Canadian Brothers and Sisters. Sincerely,
Steve Borho , Business Manager Local 1719 Cranbrook BC

A Retired Carpenter Fights BACK
As a retired member of Carpenters Local 1506 in Los Angeles and a Beneficiary of the Carpenters Southern California Pension Trust, I am seriously concerned about the abuses by the fund managers and trustees. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been diverted by corrupt trustees and pension fund managers into investments in their own, or related companies, or loaned to entities that will never pay the money back. In my opinion Richard Blum, the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, is one of them. In January of 1999, I sued the Carpenters Pension trust for misusing and mishandling pension fund money. One of the defendants is Richard Blum who is financial advisor to the Pension Trust of Southern California and to the Pension Fund of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a fund to which I have also contributed. I have a web site that exposes the pension's mishandling of funds. In one of the articles I wrote the word CORRUPT when referring to Richard Blum. Blum's office wrote to me saying they wanted the word taken out and that a retraction be posted on my site. I wrote back saying I would do that If he would prove to me he was not corrupt, and that I would post the proof on my site. He never answered. Instead I was sued for $20 million for defamation and libel. Blum has recently decided to drop the suit. I feel he did not want to answer discovery. He first tried to get $100,000.00 from my insurance company, which was handling the case. He did not get a cent from me and I have not changed my site or apologized. In my opinion Blum was not suing me because of the word CORRUPT, he was suing me because I was exposing his corruption. By the way my web site address is: http://members.tripod.com/unionplainfacts. Despite $40 million in fees paid to Blum in the last few years, our pension fund has lost over $333 million on $700 million stock investment deals. Out of these deals, we lost $69 million deals where Blum has a conflict of interest, a personal interest, or sits on the Board. It is also my opinion that Blum filters money through multiple layers of entities, skimming profits and pay backs at every level. In many cases he has gained control and looted the very companies he invests in. I believe that certain investment vehicles launder funds and funnel them back. The other thing is that he probably takes advantage of is the Unions' Tax Exemption. We the members receive zero benefits from these transactions that are made with our hard earned money. Criminal charges have already been filed in New York, and suits have been filed in Buffalo, Detroit and mine in Los Angeles. I believe that Dianne Feinstein has a conflict of interest in this whole thing. Feinstein is one of these politicians enjoying hefty campaign contributions from the Carpenters. I have written to her in the past, only to receive a request to provide my social security number. It would not surprise me if she where investigating me at the present. Probably looking into my IRS files, to name a few. She should be ashamed that her husband filed a $20 million lawsuit against a carpenter that only makes $577.00 , a month, from his pension and a social security combined. Horacio Grana
Beneficiary of the Carpenters Pension Fund Retired Member, Carpenters Local 1506 Los Angeles CA

Rank and File Wins.

Piledrivers Local 578 Chicago had its election for E-Board last week.Our appointed BA ran for President of this Local and for Delegate to our District Council and lost both races. So tell all your members that their vote does count. There is still hope for all rank and file members that want to have imput in there Locals. Would love to hear if any other local are enjoying the fact that rank and file members are in control of their own locals. R.F.M. Piledrivers Local 578 Chicago

RATIFICATION (Thumbs UP or DOWN)
Saturday morning, June 9th, Seattle's LATHING, ACOUSTICAL, INSULATION, AND DRYWALL SYSTEMS local #1144 voted on a proposed contract. With more than 25% of the membership voting, the contract offer was turned down. 533 NO 21 YES
Fraternally,
Richard Alabonneheur L.U. 470 Seattle, WA

(Editor's note: in the Southern Wisconsin Regional Council, under the new bylaws, this vote would not have counted, as 50% of the members must be present to constitute a quorum. Failing that attendance percentage, the negotiating committee gets to decide for the members !)

IT'S A GOOD JOB, IF YOU CAN GET IT!
Here are the salaries taken from the LM2 report for the period of 1/1/00 through 12/31/00:

Douglas McCarron $265,823.00
Douglas Banes $298,296.00
Andris Silins $293,515.00
Monte Byers $284,999.00

The May 2001 edition of The Kerf is now available as an Adobe PDF download

AFL-CIO Pullout Update
Rumors of a UBC pullout from the AFL-CIO have been confirmed by the actions of General President McCarron. The President of the AFL-CIO, George Sweeney responded to the news with the following :

" We are disappointed at the decision of the Carpenters. I expressed to the Carpenters executive board this week my belief that disaffiliation would be a loss for the Carpenters and a loss for the American labor movement.... I believe that we have an important and mutually beneficial relationship, and that today's unions need to be unified to provide a strong voice for (the) Carpenters' members, other union members and all working families, who face serious and challenging issues."

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
The AFL- CIO is an organization that does not appear, on the surface, to directly affect the working members of the construction trades. All of the trades send representatives to the umbrella group, and very few regular working members understand what the larger group does. Our General President McCarron shares some doubts about the mission of the larger group, and has said "It might interest you to know and over the course of our history, we have been in and out of the AFL-CIO several times. Why did we leave the AFL-CIO most recently? It's a matter of principle. It now costs $4 million a year of your dues money to belong to that association. Yet no one, including the President of that organization, could answer one important question: "How does belonging to this association directly benefit a UBC member on the job? What real benefit do they get for $4 million a year?"

WHAT DO WE GET?
by Chuck Canon
The AFL-CIO deserves plenty of criticism for its lack of vision and leadership. Its officials have been self-serving political power brokers actively perpetuating the same environment that made Douglas McCarron's dictatorship possible. The AFL-CIO had a unique opportunity to publicly oppose McCarron when he first began to establish his dictatorship. Indeed, Pile Drivers Local 34 published ads in the New York Times addressed to John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO asking for help in exposing and stopping McCarron's attack on that union and the Brotherhood. The reply was silence. Sweeney and the AFL-CIO did nothing. Now, McCarron's target is the entire building trades. True to historical practice, as if genetically programmed, top officials of some building trades unions are responding to McCarron's treachery by issuing their own intentions of raiding Carpenter jurisdictions. In an enthusiastic display of self-cannibalism, these officials continue to demonstrate a lack of vision, and a lack of ability to effectively counter McCarron and his employer bosses. They only seem able to perform in such a way to benefit themselves, and eventually, the employers, and not the union member.

We Need A UNION
The Working people of this country NEED organizations to represent them, to protect their rights, and to serve them as agents in the process of collective bargaining. The ideal solution, if starting from scratch, might be to create one large union. Much of the institutional duplication existing today, and hopefully the wasted energy and money, would be transformed into a powerful force, working in the best interests of the working people.

The reality, is that we are experiencing the remnants of 100 years of craft oriented factionalism, where slices of the construction pie have been fought over by nearly twenty organizations, climaxing in an era where 80% of the construction is being built by non union workers. The indictment is clear, our leaders have allowed their personal power trips to predominate over the best interest of the members, and now we are being told to be the good soldiers, and fight our brothers and sisters again!

The McCarron solution is reactive. Instead of seeking a new understanding with the other trades and working towards a new day of solidarity and a resurgence of pride in the unionism that the working people of this society desperately need; he has set course for easy pickings, like a pirate, or a vulture.

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Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001
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BYE BYE AFL- CIO
by Tom Crofton
The UBC is preparing to face the New World Order on its own. As reported in August, the delegates to the convention approved, over the nays of a few kindred souls, the amendment to the constitution allowing the General President to withdraw from the AFL-CIO as he pleases. Information from some inside the McCarron administration suggests that that action will take place in March, 2001. The motives for this action are not totally clear. Some have suggested that our leader wanted to be top dog in the larger body, and is taking his ball and bat home after not being picked. Some believe that the poor relations many of our Councils have with other trades are being translated to the International arena. Others believe that the personal history of our leader in the Western USA, where work rules are less stringent, and carpenters supply their own power tools or work at piecework rates, is being applied on the larger scale. Whatever the mix of reasons, the outcome is restructuring for the powerful, at the expense of the members. Our collective body has its origins in the struggle for the rights and needs of the working people. Our leaders are interested in their own visions of enhancing power and privilege. Most members probably don't identify with the AFL-CIO, and might not care if we are a part of it. Let's look at the potential outcome of this move. Agreements with other trades, through councils of the AFL-CIO, divide the work on construction site between the trades. The history of unionism in the construction industry came from the craft guilds. Each craft was responsible for training and developing the work force in its agreed on area. Attempts to join these crafts into industry wide groups failed to reach a level that created one large union. Debate continues to this day on the benefits of each structure. Individual crafts can control their numbers, and sometimes this has been done in a discriminatory way. Some crafts have had a history of raiding other unions' work, the been done in a discriminatory manner. Some craft unions have had a history of robbing other unions work, the carpenters being one singled out as one of the worst at this practice. The many duplications of bureaucracy required to staff the unions in the construction industry clearly cost the members a large chunk of change. Smaller specialty unions often wait for the larger ones to settle new contract rates, and then add on a dime or quarter, to further the disparity between us. Are we best served by this system?

The industrial unions have their drawbacks also. Attempts to bring everyone into one structure could lead to the lowest pay rate applied to all. There would might be cases of increased efficiency , where one specialty worker, who otherwise would need to wait until his part of a project was ready, would be replaced by another, who formerly did the preparation only. Problems with corruption might be more widespread, for example, a pension fund scandal in one region might turn into a national one. An immediate shift to a different system would certainly bring dislocations. The worst version, would be one where the main proponents of the change came from a less than honorable background, and forced the issue through power politics and subterfuge. Enter the McCarron Team. Our leaders have started this process out of personal willingness to look past the needs and interest of the members whom they are duty bound to protect. The leaders are willing to play "Chicky Run" with the rest of the industry that builds 20% of the nation's projects, while competing as equals with the non union contractors that build the remaining 80%. Competing as equals means lowering our wages and crossing trade boundaries to provide one stop shopping for builders. While a case can be made for developing this ability over time, in conjunction with the other trades, a unilateral endeavor of this type will cement the notion that the carpenters are the scab trade extraordinaire, and will touch off a trades war where no one can win, except the non union competition. The worst nightmare imaginable for those interested in rebuilding unionism in general in this nation is happening right now behind closed doors. Its ugly face will appear shortly, for the general public to see. A majority of the public will be glad. Unionism has given itself a bad name in the latter half of this century. Even though the unions set the benchmark wage that others hover near; and even though the unions are responsible for developing workmen's compensation, creating the 40 hour week , supporting safety on the job, and providing retirement for its members that non union workers can not even dream of, they have given themselves more than one black eye. The retreat from the notion of union democracy and solidarity that formed the movement, towards a corrupt bureaucracy that isolates itself from the realities of the daily workplace in favor of a career of wheeling and dealing, and expense account mealing, is transparent to the citizens of this society. The distinction between corporate culture and union administrative culture has been removed. The leaders of our organization have as much interest in our members as do the owners of the companies we work for; what can we do for them, and what have we done for them lately? In that respect, the honesty of the McCarron move is refreshing. No more pretending to be working for us.

Those of us who desire a rebirth of collective ideals, and value the power of an enlightened and educated membership, see another path worth taking. We can rebuild alliances with other trades. We can mend fences to approach contract time together. We can organize collectively to bring in the contractors most threatening our market. We can develop a common vision of what we want our society to be, and we can operate on all levels required to bring reality, in line, over time, with our visions. Some day, we might decide that a large industiral union would be best for us. We could build in the classifacations and training requirements to insure that work was done properly by skilled individuals. We could include extra pay for extra training, or any other modifications that reflected the needs and desires of the members. We could transform society to reflect the needs and desires of the majority of the population, the working people.

The US Constitution has, at its core, the Bill of Rights. Central to this document is the statement that man has the fundamental right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Far from window dressing, this core value is needed now more than ever. We are a nation of plenty, and yet most of us work paycheck to paycheck. We send our children to daycare so that we can have two incomes for our families, and we still are broke. We have seen a progression of advances in lifestyle reversed, the dream of a shorter work week has been replaced by more overtime. The increases in our wages have not kept up with the costs of living (385% vs 550%, since 1970). We are experiencing the manipulation of the market in farm goods and energy that benefits only the commodity traders and big business ( 70 lbs of oats is worth $2, a 15 oz box of Cheerios costs $3.50) ( Natural gas prices are at an all time high when many oil fields flare off unwanted gas around the clock).The time is ripe for an awakening of the working people to the need for acting together. We need to find ways to act as individuals, that compliment each other in the design of a world worth living in, and worth working for. We do, collectively build this world. We need to find ways to steer the design in a direction that furthers the interest of the larger group. Actions by our selfserving union officials are moving in the opposite direction.

Those of us in the UBC who recognize the self destructive nature of our leadership need to step up now. We have a small window of opportunity to express our foreboding to the members of the other trades we work next to. We need to refuse to do the work of other trades in a way that tells our bosses that we want to be productive, but we won't be parties to actions that ruin our relationships with our coworkers.


News from Nevada.
Very interesting meeting tonight at local 1977. The big news was two - fold. The Southern California - Nevada Regional Council no longer exists. It has been replaced by the Southwest Regional Council. Added to the mix was the State of Arizona & Central California.Maybe now the Californians will get a taste of what it's like to have hungry people flocking in to take work in their area. The other item was mentioned as an aside. It is if Sweeney doesn't change the AFL-CIO Constitution; Doug MacCarron will pull the Carpenters out. Doug is reportedly meeting with Sweeney prior to the end of the month. Mac is supposed to pull us out the first of March. The reason I was given is the same one trotted out at convention. Mac wants an accounting of how our per-capita is being spent. One of our B.A.s said. "We aren't any different than the Teamsters and they did okay without the AFL-CIO". I suppose we could ask Jimmy Hoffa (if they ever dig him up) or maybe the Teamos gracing various Club Feds how they did. He also seemed to forget how much work the Teamos raided while they were out. Now that they're back in the AFL-CIO I'm sure they'll love the chance to start it again. Not to mention they'll have the whole-hearted cooperation of every other trade that ever wanted to raid carpenter work. It should be very interesting come contract time with the juristicional gloves off. Meanwhile I'm going to save my money and be very careful about who's working over my head.

At the last union meeting here, it was announced that the new $22 million dollar International Training Center was open and operating. The delegates were given a tour to show off what the International had accomplished. The exact purpose of this center is still a little vague. Reportedly it is so International can have a central location to train Apprenticeship teacher, trainers, delegates, officers, & staff.

Today I was at the "toy store" (aka Home Depot) and ran into a brother who had worked on this center. He told me about the 1st class kitchen and (his words) hotel rooms inside. You see, once at the center, no one will be allowed to leave the premises until their training is complete. He said that two groups of organizors have already been through the course. What really torqued my friend off was that none of the fixtures, trim, or cabinets they installed had a union label. He said Duncan (the project manager) told him that the lowest bidder wasn't a union shop. When one of the sub-contractors was found to be nonunion; Duncan said that: The General Contractor was union but that we had no control over the sub-contractors. I was informed that not even the desks and fixtures in Mac & the G.E.B. offices showed a union label. Yes, the International big wigs have offices in the new training center. My friend went on to say that he and others were ready to walk, over the lack of labels and the rat sub. But were told that "There are guys all over the country who would jump at the chance to work on this project." , So much for "market share". Kind of puts the lie to everything we've been told, doesn't it? At the very least the International Training Center should be 100% union. I admit that the above information is 2nd hand. But slowly but surely the word is going to spread. I can hear the rats now. "Why should we use union men and materials when you don't?" The worst of it is; if MacCarron is wrong in what he is doing, we the members are the ones who are going to pay, and he'll say it's all our fault.
Bob Carlston
Local 1977


Withdrawal Pains!
Carpenters plans to exit AFL-CIO spell disaster for membership!! Just when you think union leadership in this country couldn't get any dumber or more ineffective; enter International President, Doug "cash" McCarron and the General Executive Board of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC). It is expected in March of this year, the UBC will withdraw its founding membership with the AFL-CIO. In what appears to be a "McCarron Temper Tantrum" and a little old fashioned "Per Capita Blackmail", the McCarron dictatorship in the Carpenters Union may well risk the survivability of one of America's oldest trade unions, and as well, the futures of its more than three hundred thousand members. The stage was set for the "Grand Exodus" in less than democratic fashion, at the UBC convention in Chicago IL, late last summer. With no input from members, delegates to the convention, many paid pork-choppers on the UBC staff, gave approval to the General Executive Board [GEB] to withdraw. At the same time, UBC rank and file members squared off with the Chicago police who had been called to control members of CDUI, Carpenters for a Democratic Union International.

When actual working Carpenters were finally allowed as visitors to the convention, they were forbidden from taking any signs or literature to delegates opposing McCarron's dictatorship, and mysteriously, as they approached the visitors desk, it was torn down and moved a few feet away, taking hours in the process. Wardens, or Thugs, were assigned to stay close to invading members, challenging any attempts to distribute literature; clearly an intimidation tactic designed to keep the "one member one vote" agenda from voting delegates. Ironically, the post convention edition of "The Carpenter" magazine carried a statement from our UBC CEO, McCarron, stating how he wished every carpenter could have been there at the convention. I wish they could have too; they would have recognized the incestuous relationship the "Brotherhood" has become.

Many negative possibilities will likely occur if the GEB follows through on what must be considered a maniacal withdrawal. Locals will no longer have a voice in central labor councils and delegates to local and state bodies will be removed from office and scores working for AFL-CIO organizations will lose jobs. The UBC will lose the protection afforded by the AFL-CIO constitution against raiding. Jurisdiction is already a source of pain for Carpenters and Millwrights, and as the market tightens, the current cannibalism between crafts will worsen and it is likely that UBC members and ultimately the staff will suffer as non-affiliates. When you consider a single trade union against the combined resources of all the other trades vying for construction jobs, it's not hard to imagine where union contractors will turn. While initially, McCarron may find some allies in contractors who want "wall to wall" employees, sufficient pressure from AFL-CIO skilled trades will overturn those alliances. The real question is, what will the UBC mis-leadership give up in the interim? Will wages and benefits be substantially reduced to attract jobs? That is likely and in fact, some current agreements negotiated without rank and file approval, already contain concessions. The Westinghouse agreement for example, forces workers to take 90% of scale and on a recent power plant turbine job, Millwrights were forced to do piping work normally preformed by the UA, the Plumbers and Steamfitters. This example is just the tip of the iceberg, as dry-wallers and other carpenter units are now being forced into lower scales and piecework. The much-preached "Safety" has become a joke, falling victim to business unionism and "competition". Mimicking Rat contractors will lead to more injuries and even job related deaths. Those are not concerns for handpicked staffers and hacks that never see a job, but enjoy generous salaries and benefits at the expense of the members under their rigid control. Corruption, nepotism, and cronyism, are out of control in the Carpenters union. Indictments of Carpenter leaders are surfacing at an alarming rate. Out of Work lists have become a joke for rank and file members. Allowing contractors to recall certain members often circumvents out of work lists, when actually, it is mostly cronyism at work and the contractor doesn't care as long as he has a body. Sweetheart deals allowing contractors to bring their own employees and circumvent local hiring halls are commonplace. Real representation is nothing more than a myth as more and more contracts allow contractors to fire "at will", with no recourse for rank and file members.

In many cases, the Steward position has become a reward system for members who protect the BAs and contractors. Stewards who are the first on the job, and the last to leave, guaranteeing employment to those who cow tow to the BA, who hand picks them. Most damaging, is the lack of democracy in the UBC, where Business Agents are appointed and members have no right to vote on contracts or elect who represents them. Can it get any worse for UBC members? Absolutely, and it will when the UBC disaffiliates!

Insiders say the rift between the UBC and the AFL-CIO centers around, organizing, or the lack of it. That is doubtful considering that current "organizing" in the UBC consists of bringing in employees from non-union contractors and dividing up scarce work amongst more members. Without signing up contractors, many leave to find work. Others say McCarron is miffed about not getting Georgine's former position as head of the Building Trades Council, a powerful position in the national AFL-CIO. The CDUI lays claim to the theory that so-called "restructuring" under McCarron is about gaining absolute control nd operating the Carpenter's as a business, a theory that seems real enough under the current dictatorship. The CDUI theory embodies the questionable relationship between Perini Construction, Tutor- Saliba Co and McCarron, who has a seat on the board of Perini, which cost a Carpenter pension fund 22 million when Perini stock took a nose dive last year. The CDUI claims McCarron receives a healthy chunk of change as a board member, some say as much as $55,000 a year. If the UBC does become a "wall to wall" business that works beyond craft lines, disaffiliation is a must. For UBC members, certain disaster as they mimic non-union contractors and become the latest to adopt the "labor ready" approach. It is currently being made clear to apprentices in the UBC what their obligation is to employers, how they must compete, but no focus is placed on union solidarity and it is common for all UBC members to be sent across picket lines. Withdrawal from the AFL-CIO carries another startling drawback for UBC members: members will have no recourse to challenge the UBC dictatorship; we will become the rats we say we despise.
Mike Griffin
WarZone Education Foundation Decatur IL


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