An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

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An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

Local 2790 Acting Recording Secretary James Smith

An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From: James Smith, Acting Recording Secretary, Local 2790
Subject: An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members
To:        Matt Walker, Director of Operations, NYCDCC
Cc:        Dennis Walsh, Dick Roth, Scott Danielson,  Michael Bilello, Michael Cavanaugh, The Delegates and Executive Board of Local 2790,

At the Executive Board Meeting of Local 2790 which took place Monday night, there was a lengthy discussion regarding a troubling issue affecting the members of our Local. Our members are essentially being discriminated against on the basis of what Local they are a member of, through Wage Grading. As an Executive Board we feel it is in the best interests of the members we represent  that we publicly write you and the leadership of the District Council about this issue in the hopes that by shedding some light on it, we can all work together to resolve these issues to the benefit of the members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters.
In the MWA CBA, Article III, Section 9 (“Installation of Custom Millwork Manufactured in Employers Shop”) allows for Signatory MWA Shops to install woodwork at a pay & benefit rate considerably lower than that of the W&CA CBA. This is called “The Outside Modified Shop Rate”. There are requirements for a shop to obtain this “bargain” rate. For example, 80% of the work has to be manufactured in that shop while the remaining 20% must bear a union label. Also, no more than two workers can install woodwork at this rate on any given job. MWA contractors routinely violate these rules by installing subcontracted  woodwork, not bearing a union label well in excess of 20% on a job (in some instances up to 100% of a job will be manufactured at a non-union shop and installed at the lower
rate). In addition, MWA Contractors will employ more than two workers on a jobsite at the discount rate. Some of these members have never even set foot in a shop before, but get paid less than their fellow members of the NYCDCC for the same work. All of this is simply determined by what Local the members are from and that is why we consider this discrimination.
Furthermore, Miller/Blaker, a Local 2790 Shop located in The Bronx, discriminates against our members on the basis of what date they started work with the company. In the Miller/Blaker CBA, which was handcrafted by The UBC International Representatives, there are two different pay rates. One for members who were working with the company prior to the signing of the agreement, the other rate is for members who started work after the agreement  was signed. New workers in the company receive less pay for the same work. Another important note, if a worker who is receiving the higher pay rate is laid off from the company for an extended period of time, he/she will then receive the lower pay rate if they are rehired by Miller/Blaker.
Lastly, Rimi Woodcraft another Local 2790 shop in The Bronx exploits their finishers. Rimi Woodcraft owns a refurbishing shop directly across the street from its main factory. The refurbishing shop signed an agreement  with The District Council that pays less than the standard shop rate. The reason was that this refurbishing shop is only supposed to repair and refinish damaged woodwork. All
new woodwork is to be finished in the main factory where they pay their workers the full shop rate. Over time, Rimi took advantage of this graded wage and now has all of its finishing work, both new and old,
performed across the street in the cheaper refurbishing shop. The Finishing Department in the main Rimi factory is now closed.
The members of Local 2790 feel that the Miller/Blaker agreement, The Outside Modified Shop Rate, and the Rimi Corporate Refinishing Agreement are discriminatory at worst; and at best they violate everything The United Brotherhood of Carpenters stands for.
Local 2790 members are now working side by side with members of other locals, performing the same work at lower modified shop rates. The lower modified rates were intended to keep our members working in slower economic times; to remain employed. This ideal is no longer being honored and we
are being laid off as quickly as the outside members.
Many decades ago, the Millwrights had adapted to the changing times and stopped manufacturing the gears and blades of the wind and watermills when materials changed to metal. They adapted and installed what was previously their work. Currently, more and more woodwork is being manufactured outside of NYC and as a result the shop numbers are dwindling. We have to adapt to these changes, and like the Millwrights of long ago we have to now install what we once manufactured to survive. However with wage grading, union millworkers are having difficulty installing millwork with wages and benefits at area standards.
So as a result, Apprentices and Journeyman of our Local are leaving so they can get paid an honest wage. There are literally apprentices who have switched locals, continued to work with the same contractor, and have effectively received a pay raise, all by leaving Local 2790.

Section 2, Paragraph 1 (“Objects”) of the UBC Constitution States:
“ The objects of the United Brotherhood are…to coordinate bargaining
toward the goal of taking wages out of competition, and by legal and proper means to elevate the moral, intellectual and social conditions of all our members and to improve the trade in every way possible.”

Section 3, Paragraph 4 (“Faithful Work”) of the UBC Constitution States:
“We hold it as a sacred principle that Trade Unionists, above all others, should set a good example as good and faithful workers, performing their duties to their employers with honor to themselves and their organization. We do not recognize the practice of grading skilled workers.”

Section 3, Paragraph 6 (“Other Interests”) of the UBC Constitution States:
“We recognize that the interests of all labor are identical regardless of occupation, sex, nationality, religion, or color, for a wrong done to one is a wrong done to all. We oppose all unlawful discrimination and harassment against workers, whether based on race, gender, nationality or any other basis…”

Section 60, Paragraph 2 (“Standing Decisions of the General Executive Board”) of the UBC Constitution
“September 17, 1887 - Grading wages is demoralizing to Union principles and to the welfare of the trade and no Local Union should adopt the system of grading wages.”

Furthermore, Peter J. McGuire, the founder of The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has stated:
“…Every city should be organized and the wages of all advanced to a uniform standard.”
The Carpenter, May 1881
“…Competition among ourselves reduces wages and renders one working man the victim of another…”
Preamble to the UBC Constitution, 1881

In closing, these agreements  and wage grades do nothing to serve the interests of the members of this Local. Furthermore they actually hurt other Locals, such as 157, 926, 45, and 20. Members of
Local 2790 are being hired over members of other Locals members simply because they are cheaper. We
feel that no member of any Local in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters should be hired over another, to do the same work for less pay. We as a Local want to see all our members employed, on the basis of skill. Considering that the MWA is currently in negotiations with The District Council on a new agreement; any CBA whether it be proposed or existing, with a trade association or a small company; containing language that grades wages or in any other way discriminates against the members of this Local or any other Local is in direct conflict with The UBC Constitution.

On behalf of the members of Local 2790, James Smith
Acting Recording Secretary
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Re: An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

 While at it Smitty, where's the accountability that shows this contract is as bogus as D. Shiel, Spencer & Ballantyne's actions regarding its acceptance? Ideally no wage grading but whats your opinion about the fluffed arbitration & any proposed settlrment?
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Re: An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

In reply to this post by Local 2790 Acting Recording Secretary James Smith
2790 has sent a clear letter covering basic issues many Carpenters have with the MWA. If there has been no productive response from the administration, another similar letter should be sent to Judge Berman.

As for the deeper issues, consider the historical basis of the MWA claim: (not on NLRB site, for some reason)
Manufacturers Woodworking Assn. of Greater New York Inc. (2-CA-35702; 345 NLRB No. 36) Valhalla, NY Aug. 27, 2005.

Affirming the administrative law judge's recommendation, the Board dismissed the complaint, which alleged that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by filing a Demand for Arbitration to compel the New York City District Council of Carpenters (the Union) to enforce article I, section 7 of the parties' collective-bargaining agreement, which reads:

The Union shall monitor all woodwork installed within its jurisdiction and confirm that said woodwork was manufactured by a shop, which either is a signatory to this agreement or in the alternative manufactured by a shop that is paying equal to or better than the wages and fringe benefits provided for in this agreement. The Union shall not allow the installation by any of its members of any woodwork, which is identified as not being furnished and/or manufactured by a signatory to this agreement or in the alternative which is not furnished and/or manufactured by a shop that is paying equal to or better than the wages and fringe benefits provided for in this agreement subject to applicable law.

The Respondent, Manufacturers Woodworking Association (MWA), is a multiemployer bargaining group whose companies manufacture and install woodwork. The Charging Parties are woodwork manufacturers who have collective-bargaining agreements with Carpenters Local 42 and subcontract their installation work to Installation Contactors that have a collective-bargaining relationship with the Union and are signatory to an agreement similar to the MWA-District Council contract. Because the agreement between Local 42 and the Charging Parties provides for lower wages than the MWA-District Council contract, the Union could not, under the clause, allow its members employed by any Installation Contractor to install the woodwork manufactured by the Charging Parties.

By letter dated Dec. 9, 2002, the Respondent notified the Union that MWA members had lost work on 21 projects to shops outside the Union's jurisdiction. The Respondent reminded the Union of its contractual responsibility to prohibit the installation of woodwork that does not meet the contract's requirements. It stated that the Union would be in breach of the parties' contract if it did not meet its obligations, and that any action other than prohibiting the installation of unsanctioned woodwork would constitute a breach of the agreement. On April 25, 2003, the Respondent filed the Demand for Arbitration, alleging that the Union breached article I, section 7. The Respondent withdrew its request for arbitration on July 31, 2003.

The Board assumed arguendo that the Respondent's arbitration demand had the unlawful objective of requiring the Union and its members to engage in a work stoppage that would violate Section 8(b)(1)(A) and therefore, the arbitration demand lost its special protections. It concluded however that the General Counsel failed to show that the mere filing of the arbitration demand had a reasonable tendency to interfere with employees' Section 7 rights.

(Chairman Battista and Members Liebman and Schaumber participated.)

Charge filed by Peterson Geller Spurge, Inc. and Patella Mfg., Inc.; complaint alleged violation of Section 8(a)(1). Hearing at New York on Sept. 27, 2004. Adm. Law Judge D. Barry Morris issued his decision Jan. 12, 2005.

In regards to the response of INQUIRY-- having to do with surrounding suspicious circumstances: Sheil's apparent signing of Gilbert Display Agreement, mere days after Forde was arrested and McCarron/ Spencer took over the 395 Hudson; Forde regime Council Lawyers overseeing a ratification vote at the Gilbert shop; the reported questionable underlying conditions at that shop; Spencer and Kuzmak said to have stated NYC cabinet shops were making too much under MWA agreement; Midhattan head, and MWA witness George Greco, resigning as Union Trustee to avoid being deposed by the Review Officer; Gilbert Display's implied connection with the Javit Center racket; former employees of Rimi Woodworking (owned by MWA President Anthony Rizzo) subsequently appointed as Council Officials; Joseph Oliveri's connection to Greco, Bisceglie, Amalgamated, etc.; International (McCarron) authorship of the Miller-Blaeker Agreement, only a minor improvement on the Gilbert Agreement, and a huge step backwards from the MWA Agreement, for NYC Members-- there are still many unasked and unanswered questions shrouded in shadow, due to government supervision, Walsh's ongoing top-secret investigations, and opacity of the International Trusteeship by McCarron & Spencer. We of course don't expect Bilello too shed much light, especially after his go-it-alone blunder of opting for arbitration. Hopefully when arbitrator Rosemary Townley comes down from the mountain on December 31 some justice will prevail, otherwise there will be many angry Carpenters-- shop employees, and outside installers. It's good to see 2790 Members taking an active approach, but as we know from experience in the rank-and-file labor movement, writing a diplomatic letter is only one tool in the box containing a diversity of tactics.          
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Re: An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

In reply to this post by INQUIRY
Dear Mr Smith im glad to see you are and active e board member that has your members best intrests at heart. I suggest you file charges with the dol ,nlrb.Please be sure to file charges against your delegates as well Violating the Obligation.It is high time that membership took control of their own fate. I wonder why the total membership hasnt called for a strike an injustice to one is an injustice to all. we cant afford to not worry about our brothers and sisters cause were next. You know its funny how weve been under a federal monitorship that has totally failed to protect our intrests. Be well Brother ill see you on the strike line.