How BC Carpenters Organized Against McCarron
by Josh Coles, Member of Local Union 1995 Vancouver, BC

United Brotherhood of Carpenters General President Douglas McCarron opposes union democracy because he risks losing important membership votes.

Votes like last month’s referendum in British Columbia where carpenter union members were asked to support autonomy from their International Union and to create a new stand-alone BC constitution. In one of the highest mail-in ballot returns in our history, over 77% voted in favour of autonomy and 76% approved of our new constitution. This latest BC Provincial Council of Carpenters victory is another indictment against McCarron's brand of business trade unionism.

BC Carpenter members continue to deny McCarron the unilateral power he needs to complete his North American-wide conversion of the UBC into a labour broker. BC’s struggle for union democracy has quaked McCarron’s foundations and now he is frantically throwing mud into the cracks.

McCarron is making every effort to stop our movement at BC’s borders before it reaches beyond. In the past five years he has visited here twice as many times as any other Canadian province and held numerous one-on-one strategy meetings with his dwindling cadre of International loyalists. BC’s efforts could be politically damaging elsewhere to McCarron which explains his direct interest in three major legal suits against the BC Provincial Council, including one still before the BC Supreme Court.

McCarron's threats and promises have failed, however, because he never connected with the larger membership. BC members’ instinctive gag-reflex kicked in as soon as he started force-feeding an unchewable restructuring package in 1996. He has threatened to impose closures and mergers of vibrant locals while supporting loyal ones. He has threatened to transfer millions of dollars in BC assets to his coffers without a whisper of a vote. McCarron has stated that only he knows what is best for BC members and they must accept without question.

We have been successful in defeating McCarron because we have refused to respect his abusive power. We’ve stopped accepting his constitutional authority as General President, because it isn’t earned. We’ve stopped adhering to his hierarchal control, because it is designed to destroy us. We’ve stopped giving him the benefit of the doubt, because he has given us no choice in accepting his 33-bylaws amendments. We’ve stopped obeying the boss and started taking charge of our union.

As soon we identified McCarron as the real threat to our union, we began to win. We became smarter, fought back harder, protested louder and refused to accept his presence in our province (e.g.: the Port Alberni membership meeting walk-out on McCarron and the expulsion of International representatives from our conventions). BC brothers and sisters have been responding to an attack from a General President who hasn’t been acting like a brother at all.

To win against McCarron we’ve mobilized to win the hearts and minds of fellow members. Legal suits against the International were good public relations darts to throw at McCarron but we knew that they alone wouldn’t create membership solidarity. Outside agents like labour boards and courts couldn’t defend our union the way our members could. While we used the law to protect members we also sought to directly win the support of those members. Our two-pronged approach has worked. Last month’s overwhelming support from members for autonomy from the International speaks more about solidarity than any labour board ruling.

We gained membership support by answering McCarron's propaganda. Everywhere but in BC, McCarron has been successful in using his brand of “organizing" as an excuse to turn the UBC into a Labour Ready. McCarron’s “organizing” is really about recruiting carpenters on behalf of union contractors to give them a bigger trained labour supply. Non-elected leaders get glossy-eyed about the benefits of “organizing” while in reality McCarron has reformed the union hall into well-oiled, pro-employer recruiting machine.

We answered McCarron's spin doctoring by persistently pointing out that future members are told to vote Union Yes on non-union job sites but can’t vote once in the union. While the aim of real organizing is to improve a members’ condition, McCarron’s priority is to create a hassle-free member whose full union participation experience is responding to dispatches.

In BC we challenged McCarron’s vision by struggling for our full rights as union members. Being a union member means more than getting a job – it means fighting for a better union and a better way of life. And we shall not give up that fight for we have only started to organize ourselves into an improved, McCarron-free, democratic union.

Sat, 31 Mar 2001

On Mar 30, 2001 BDO Dunwoody (Accountants) tallied the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters referendum vote on Canadian Autonomy. 
The results are 55% of Ballots returned and an 80% majority of British Columbia union carpenters supporting Canadian Autonomy on Ballot #2. The same results were counted for the new BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Constitution on ballot #1.

This proves what the membership in BC have been asking for decades, our right to vote and decide what's best for ourselves.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America pulled out of the AFL-CIO this week, and rumours have them pulling out of the Canadian Labour Congress. Rumour has it that Canadian Locals have been given the order to 'raid' other unions.

Let me make this very clear, the leadership of the Carpenters Union in British Columbia are not in favour of raiding other unions. This is only the International's idea. This shows another reason why BC wanted to get the hell out of an organization that only wants to control the labour pool without giving workers the right to have a say. I believe McCarron wants to be the CEO of his own labour broker firm.

Let me make another important statement. I believe that many people don't want to leave the UBCJA, but we are being forced to by McCarron's actions. The BC Carpenters Unions fight is not with the working brothers and sisters, its with $MAC.
Working carpenters in Canada are just like carpenters in the US, hardworking, caring, and loyal. But the loss of our rights was the straw that broke the beavers back.

GOOD LUCK to the brothers and sisters on the rest of the continent. Don't give up. We are still going to fight for your democracy. 
The fight has just started.

Remember that the Carpenter magazine is full of propaganda and liars. Don't believe what you read.

Randy Smith
President Local 1995 Vancouver, Beautiful British Columbia

To all members of the Carpenters Union In British Columbia
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Re: Referendum Votes
In advance of the upcoming referendum votes on constitutional amendments and autonomy, we - the majority of the elected leadership in British Columbia - felt it appropriate to send this letter to all members.
In the next few days, you will be receiving two ballots in the mail. This could be one of the most important votes in the history of our union. The right to vote, in fact, is the very basis of our differences with the International.
You have received a number of letters that have attempted to distort this issue by attacking the leadership of our union. It is very heartening to hear the reports of the Council officers, following their tour of the special-called membership meetings around the province, that these letters have not fooled many of the members. The majority of the members support the Provincial Council’s struggle against the International’s proposed restructuring of our union. The majority of the members are in favour of the pursuit of autonomy.
In order to attain these goals, the Provincial Council is going to need your support. When you receive your ballots, please take the time to mark them and mail them back in the postage-paid envelope that will be provided.
We are adding our names and positions to clearly indicate to the members our support for the recommendation of “yes” for the constitutional amendments, and “yes” for autonomy.
In solidarity,

Local 506:
Alan Hughes, President
Joe Keegan, Vice-president
Bill Korte, Rec. Sect.
Toby Charette, Treasurer
Ron Hudson, Trustee
Harry Crouchill, Trustee
Ginio Stoyeff, Trustee
Dave Toolsee, Warden
Tom Johnas, Conductor
Robert A. Eaton, Business Manager

Local 513
Andre Gauthier, President
Steve Mahovlic, Vice-president
John Tell, Rec. Sect.
Dick Stainsby, Teasurer
Maxie Mieth, Warden
Livio Bonomo, Conductor
Dave Murray, Trustee
Albert Fortin, Trustee
Jim Versteeg, Trustee
Mike Lang, Fin. Sect.

Local 1081
Steve Brady, President
Willie Slanina, Vice-president
Phil Lasalle, Rec. Sect.
Eugene Stewart, Fin. Sect.
Berend Jonkman, Warden
John Bell, Trustee

Local 1237
Stewart Mathias, President
Maurice Beaudoin, Vice-president
Terry Powell, Rec. Sect.
Cliff Harrison, Treasurer
Brent Rogers, Fin. Sect.
Howard Robertson, Warden
Dennis Evens, Conductor
Frank Kaempf, Trustee
Archie Merwin, Trustee
Rudy Kuttig, Trustee
Roger St. Pierre, Schoolboard Steward

Local 1346
David Doran, President
Olaf Duemler, Vice-president
Dirk Campagnolo, Fin. Sect.
Wayne Enevoldson, Treasurer
Tony Heisterkamp, Rec. Sect.
Dennis Duhamel, Trustee
Dave Sampert, Trustee
Gib Bussiere, Warden

Local 1719
Steve Borho, President
Gene Garinger, Vice-president
Shawn Revington, Rec. Sect.
Jay Regitnig, Fin. Sect.
Scott Smith, Treasurer
Wilf Bay, Conductor
Gerry Roberts, Warden
Rick Mace, Trustee
Dean Powers, Trustee

Local 1735
Ken Lippett, President
Gregg Gardiner, Vice-president
John Mair, Rec. Sect.
Alan Scott, Fin. Sect.
Javier Guardo, Treasurer
Larry Lindseth, Conductor
Dan Zajac, Warden
Laverne Sunduk, Trustee
Ian Collins, Trustee
Terry Collins, Trustee

BC Northwest District Council
Andrew Thelitz, President
Harley Harrison, Vice-president
Rick Eakin, Delegate
Bill Hogstead, Delegate
Pat Westman, Delegate/Area Steward
Doug Blake, Delegate/Area Steward
John Hales, Delegate
Craig Movold, Delegate

Local 1812
Barry Worth, President
Jim Karr, Vice-president
Bill Smith, Rec. Sect.
John Starkey, Fin. Sect.
Fred Kuhn, Trustee
Ben Kozijn, Trustee
Graham Edwards, Trustee
John Middleton, Conductor

Local 1928
Pat Haggarty, President
Don Pengilly, Fin. Sect.
Louie Acker, Vice-president
Bill Young, Rec. Sect.
Joe Silva, Trustee
Steve Smeaton, Trustee
Gary Hayden, Trustee
Glenn Harris, Conductor
Peter Zimny, Warden

Local 1989
Michael Stahnke, President
Jim Senior, Fin. Sect.
Jeff Williams, Rec. Sect.
Sean Jancowski, Treasurer
Matt Knoedler, Conductor
Jake Atkinson, Trustee
Phil Prain, Trustee
David Blythe, Trustee

Local 1995
Randy Smith, President
Charlie Scaling, Fin. Sect.
Bill Duck, Conductor
Randy Callaghan, Warden
Cy Hoffman, Delegate Van. New West and Fraser Valley D.C.

Local 1998
Tom Masich, President
Fred Muntau, Vice-president
Ron Kneller, Rec. Sect.
George Jalava, Fin. Sect.
Robert Metzler, Treasurer
Anthony Chiappe, Conductor
Howard Webb, Warden
Richard Muirhead, Trustee

Local 2068
Norman Baillie, President
Thomas Ross, Vice-president
Harry Keillor, Fin Sect.
Robert Black, Rec. Sect.
Colin James, Treasurer
James Dunn, Conductor
Lee Koponen, Warden
John Haggstrom, Trustee
Gregory Clarke, Trustee
Clay Gloslee, Trustee

Local 2106
Dave Sewell, President
Mike Finnigan, Vice-president
Bill Van Helvoirt, Fin. Sect.
Bob Page, Rec. Sect.
Greg Gunderson, Warden
Jerry Chaillee, Conductor
Gord Merrit, Trustee
Darryl Zerr, Trustee
Lawrence Wolitski, Trustee

Local 2300
Paul R. Nedelec, President Kootenay District Council
John Voykin, President
Aaron Embree, Vice-president
Tony Soichuk, Rec. Sect.
Paul L. Nedelec, Fin. Sect.
Doria Newman, Treasurer
Dave Livingston, Warden
Joe Hetherington, Conductor
Curtis Lemieux, Trustee
Tony McKellar, Trustee
Paul Wilkinson, Trustee

Local 2423
Brad Bourel, President
Jim Campbell, Vice-president
Jan Morris, Secretary
Franco Linza, Fin. Sect./Treasurer
Dennis Hyette, Trustee

Local 2511
Frank Halliburton, President
Glenn Duffield, Vice-president
Sylvia Kellet, Rec. Sect.
John Colbourne, Fin. Sect.
David Clancy, Treasurer
Don Czerniak, Trustee
Brian McPhee, Trustee
Jim Burnett, Warden/Conductor

Local 2545
Sandra Backer, President
Paul Allen, Vice-president
Iris Humphries, Rec. Sect.
Dariene McLennan, Warden
Darren Terrico, Conductor
Renatta Wilbur, Trustee
Judy Sklapsky, Trustee
Myrna Gillis, Trustee

Local 2736
Doug Schmidt, Vice-president
Dave White, Treasurer
Brian Zdrilic, Fin. Sect.
Gerry Callahan, Trustee
Rob Parrussini, Trustee
Miro Mara, Trustee
George Mueller, Conductor
Mike Spreadbury, Warden
Frank Nolan, BA/Organizer

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