I wrote this article a year ago and it is still the way I feel about this Full Mobility issue today. Yes, we must change with the times but it must be a step in the direction to uphold our union principles and keep our union non-discriminatory. This whole concept did not come from the contractors but as soon as the UBC proposed it, they got on board, for obvious reasons. Our union will no longer be the place where one goes to find work and further their skills to prove what good union labor can achieve. The learning curve will be diminished and the older proven skilled worker will not be around to help teach and mentor future carpenters. New members will be introduced to our union by entering under the 7 day rule and will be allowed to bypass the apprenticeship protocol that we now have in place.
Our Out of Work list has been purposely ignored for the last ten years, even up until today. Not one step has been taken to change the list and it has been protected by a few chosen to set the stage for what we are now experiencing. It’s not a coincidence that the caretakers of the proven corrupted OWL were not vetoed or fired but given promotions. This plan to eliminate the owl has been going on for years. The bean counters still get their high numbers but the fairness and solidarity are slowly being eroded away. We can make our OWL function if we only listen to the members and not people who have never sat on the list before.
I hope that all the well paid, salaried council representatives will not look the other way when it comes time to vote on this new contract. Try to remember if you swung a hammer or have ever been on the out of work list. Try to remember back the last time you opened an unemployment claim or have taken a hardship withdrawal from your depleted annuity. This is the reality of the real rank and file and not the steady company worker who never misses a day’s work. Try to feel for the brother and sister who really want to learn this honorable trade and feed their families. You too may be on the OWL and rubbing elbows with the same members whom you will be voting against someday.
Vote ”no” on Tuesday so we can give our delegates ample time to sift through this newly presented contract and keep our unions principles intact. What do you really have to lose but a little more time to reconsider your stance on this important decision? You may still vote “yes” but a least you know why and you are sure about the decision that affect thousands of brother and sister carpenters =========================================================================================================== FULL MOBILITY
If what I heard today is true, our union will be taking the last step in a direction we won't be able to recover from. Come the new contract in July, we will be forced to accept this new "mobility" rule from the powers that be. We will have no vote or ratification on the way we get our work from our union. We are still the only organized labor union in America that does not ratify its contracts. It is done behind closed doors by a few, and you have seen how that has turned out!? Over the last ten years, contractors have been able to request any member they wanted to. Past president, Mr. Pete Thomassen and the past corrupt administration saw to that. He even violated the consent decree to execute this maneuver. He recently quit the carpenters union so he could not be retaliated against for all his wrong doings.
Many of the crooked contractors have benefited from being able to request the most skilled workers and carry them in their pockets from job to job. This I believe has changed the playing field for all bids and contracts in our industries future. The developers and General Contractors have seen the jobs being done faster and better and try to sustain this work pace. This is impossible to do. Many crooked contractors have been taking advantage of the diluting of our most important commodity, our work pool. It is unrealistic to try and man the jobs the way our union has been being run. It's like when the Yankees, who have the most money and influence get all the best players. They end up in the World Series most of the time because they have an unbalance of the best players in their business. Every carpenter must feed their family and there is a job that each member can do if they have the right attitude.
The carpenters unions most endangers commodity is the out of work list. As in every business, there are the most skilled, decent workers and those who are looking for the opportunity to further their skills on the job. Most carpenters in the past fall into this category. Those who have a good attitude and are trying to better their skills deserve the opportunity to work. Of course, as in any business you will have those who can't do the work and ride the coat tails of those who carry the load. We must weed out the members who don't want to work or further their skills. Basic competency test and a system where members must know their trade should be implemented. If you sign the list for a specific job, you must be tested and certified to do the basics in that field. It is very simple to get this right. If you can prove you can do the work then you belong on the job. If you can't, well, learn it or move on to another trade. We don't need pay cuts and more give backs to contractors. Of course they must get the job done, and they will.
Our union workforce most definitely has the skilled men and women to do the jobs. Who do you think has been building the great city and country we live in? Don't take away our already approved raise and use it for a bargaining tactic. We haven't even gotten to the bargaining table and we are giving into their demands. We have lost the arm wrestle and we haven't even sat down at the negotiating table! Let’s stop the corporate bean counting that has been going on in our union for many years. We are people who work hard for a living and demand respect. Don't use our sweat and toil to make deals with corporations and big money. We are not slaves building the pyramids of ancient Egypt. We are not exploited workers in the Triangle Shirt factory. We are skilled, middle class people who deserve the rights and respect from our leaders. Leaders should be held accountable and will be asked to step up or will be asked to move over. It is time in this country to stop the Wal Marts and non-union, un-represented workers. Don't be fooled by Wal Mart coming to New York City and saying they will build with union labor only if it is a PLA or Stimulus job. We may build these stores now but as soon as our work is done they will move in and take apart the communities and jobs we so desperately need during these hard times. They will give us two jobs now but take three away in the future. Where is the wisdom from our leaders of today? They just make deals so they look good now and not to protect our organization and all of its members? The Carpenters Union could and I hope will be given back to the members and not the representatives that have an agenda for themselves and the co workers they all keep working close by to protect the machine. Have we not learned anything from our past?
If we implement this full mobility clause in our next contract we will be doing the same thing that the request system has been doing over the last ten years. This time around it will be much more severe and won’t be able to be turned around for future carpenter members. I was told that only the steward will come from the list and all other workers will be hired on by the company as they see fit. This means if you have no connections, not friends with the foreman or have only worked off the OWL during your career, you will be out of work. We will eventually have fewer contractors because there are not that many supreme workers out there they have been and will require to compete in this unbalanced playing field our past corrupt leaders have set the stage for. We must negotiate a contract good for both sides of the table. Let’s bring back the collective bargaining tactics and maneuvers that were used to get our union where it is today.
I hope that we start to have some representatives who have a mind of their own and speak up when they should. We don’t need a group of well salaried workers who will not open their mouths when they feel something isn't right. How about some honorable men and women who will not just sign the paper they are given and look the other way. We have a long history that deserves the respect and attention given to it to flourish for future carpenters and not just a six digit incomes for executive jobs.
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