Déjà Vu All Over Again”

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Déjà Vu All Over Again”

Bill Walsh

Déjà vu all over again”

-Yogi Berra 

In 2014, Union Democracy Review covered an election controversy within local 157 of the carpenters union (UBC). Bill Walsh, a longtime member of local 157 of the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) was running for Recording Secretary. Walsh won the election handily and prepared himself to assume the responsibilities of his office. Almost immediately, however, a complaint was filed against him for not meeting the proper prerequisites to run, let alone hold union office. In Walsh’s case, the specific complaint was his “not working in the trade;” not meeting a certain amount of minimum hours worked to qualify. (Walsh, being semi-retired, had not kept hours consistently.) The complaint was brought before the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) international general president Doug McCarron, who upheld the objections to Walsh’s candidacy. Walsh, believing he had no further recourse in the union as the top officer had ruled, appealed to the NYC District Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) within the U.S. Dept. of Labor, disputing the factual basis for the finding that he did not work enough hours. OLMS provided no help however, claiming the candidate had not officially exhausted his internal union remedies by failing to appeal the McCarron ruling, therefore OLMS refused to take the complaint. Walsh was unaware he should have complained to McCarron, since McCarron was the UBC General President and highest authority.  There was no other appeal process that he was aware of.

In 2014, Walsh was able to overcome this obstacle. The rerun election was held later that year and in the interim Walsh made sure he worked the minimum number of hours, so there would be no dispute. Once again, Walsh was elected by the membership as Recording Secretary and, this time, a working in the trade complaint could not be issued, as he had clearly met the minimum working requirements.

Fast forward to 2017, at the end of his three-year term, Walsh found himself in the same boat. He ran for re-election and hoped to retain his seat with the approval of the membership.  He achieved just that, running unopposed and winning the election by default, on May 18th 2017, the date of the nominations meeting.

However, Walsh was cited with  another “working in the trade” complaint, filed on May 23rd, by two local members whom Walsh says are both friends of the NYCDCC leadership (with whom Walsh is quite unpopular). The protests again cited Walsh’s semi-retired status and cited his collection of his pension as proof positive of his “out of work” status.

Again the protests went to UBC General President (GP) Doug McCarron. Then by letter dated June 14th, McCarron ruled against Walsh, finding him ineligible to have been nominated because his investigation found that Walsh was not working in the trade.  A new election was held, of course, without Walsh.

Walsh, recalling his prior experience with the NYC OLMS, made sure to appeal the decision by McCarron to McCarron, writing the aforementioned International GP a letter dated July 7th, a letter that challenges the decision and lays out a set of facts to dispute the finding of failing to work in the trade. McCarron responded to Walsh by letter dated July 12th:  not on the merits but rejecting the appeal based on the fact that Walsh had no grounds to file such an appeal in the first place, as the GP’s earlier, June 14th decision was final.

Walsh therefore, quite sure he had fully exhausted all internal procedures, took his complaint to the NYC OLMS, expecting to finally get a hearing on the merits of his case.

OLMS however, never addressed the merits of his complaint. It again denied it, asserting that Walsh did not exhaust his union’s internal remedies. This time, OLMS cited a provision in the UBC Constitution that says an election complaint must be filed within 30 days after the date of the election. According to OLMS, the “election” was held on May 18th, when Walsh was nominated, unopposed, for office.

OLMS then cited the July 7th date on Walsh’s internal union complaint, finding it untimely, and that he should have invoked his internal union remedies on or before June 17, thirty days after the election, in accordance with the UBC Constitution.

But the facts are that the union did not overturn Walsh’s election until June 14, so Walsh had no reason to file a complaint before then. Moreover, Walsh may not have found out about his disqualification until receiving the McCarron letter, which could have been several days later. Therefore, it appears that Walsh’s date of invocation should have been no earlier than June 14 and he should have been given 30 days from that date to file his complaint.

OLMS’ letter to Walsh adds, in a footnote to the decision, that the person who filed the protest against Walsh would have had 30 days after June 14th to go to the OLMS if McCarron had ruled in favor of Walsh. Why wouldn’t Walsh have had the same 30 days after he received a final letter from McCarron?  AUD has requested further explanation from OLMS and is awaiting a response.
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Re: Déjà Vu All Over Again”

What there doing to brother Billy Walsh,is wrong,a member in good standings,always representing the unions and members best interests ,this and the out of work list is inoffient the out of work list gives members the run around what s being done to out of work list.The members always do there part,why throw them under the bus,take responsibility for your actions,work in the best interests of the members and the brotherhood.The members are working hard to put the hours back into the fund,and at the same time trying to earn a living and providing for there family's,our people at council should hold the highest bat and area to work in the members best interests,as members are working hard to have hours credited do all members,delegates,administration school union officials,administration at council all have benefits,it affects each and everyone of us all,we all got to do our part to keep the man hours up to get a pension,get medical benefits,not have mccarron take it away