Are Carpenter local unions still "labor organizations?"
A discussion by Herman Benson
The question is startling but legitimate. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act defines a "labor organization" as one "in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment..." By that standard, Carpenter locals, totally disarmed under the current union structure, seem to have clearly lost the right to designation as "labor organizations."
In the Carpenters union, locals have been merged into district and regional councils where they are stripped of all participation in negotiating, signing, or enforcing collective bargaining agreements. Full authority over dealing with employers, from start to finish, is arrogated by an executive secretary treasurer, who is armed with extraordinary authoritarian power, not only over collective bargaining, but also over every other sphere of union life.
Council bylaws make clear how sweeping and authoritarian that power is: "The EST shall have the power and authority to appoint and remove representatives for and on behalf of its Local Unions to act as Trustees or all negotiated Employer/Union Trust Funds including, but not limited to, annuity, health and welfare plans... Accordingly, all trust agreements and/or plan documents shall be amended by the authorized representatives of the Local unions to reflect the foregoing appointment and removal process." And just to make it crystal clear: "The Council shall have the exclusive power and authority to negotiate and execute Collective Bargaining Agreements for and behalf of its affiliated local unions, except to the extent the International Union exercises its jurisdiction or authority." Carpenter councils may or may not decide to submit contracts for membership ratification, but that decision involves a relation between the council and the total membership. In such a decision and such a process, local unions are irrelevant.
All business agents, representatives, all personnel that have anything to do with contract negotiation or enforcement are selected by the all-powerful EST. And that power extends beyond the area of relations with employers into every aspect of union activity.
Locals, now walled off from collective bargaining, have been so weakened that they are incapable of doing anything effectively. Most dues money goes directly into the district council treasury. As required by Federal law, locals still elect local officers; but locals are expressly forbidden to pay them salaries or to hire any other staff personnel except clerical employees, no educational directors, attorneys, political action reps, no one. Not one person can hold any paid union position of any kind, except simple local clerical employees, unless selected by the regnant EST.
One carpenter in New York argues on the internet that all local unions in the Carpenters District Council should be abolished because the reorganization of the international union under International President Douglas McCarron has already squeezed all life out of them. As he says, with justification, local unions have been deprived of almost every autonomous right and have no effective constitutionally means of affecting what happens in the union, not even in their own assigned jurisdiction and certainly not in the district. And so he concludes, it is pointless and misleading to continue the fiction that locals still have any meaningful role. But while he describes the facts accurately, his conclusion would make matters worse. Precisely because the international has become so egregiously authoritarian, locals' unions, even in their eviscerated state, have become the only arena left where rank and filers can easily assemble to discuss union affairs, express dissatisfaction, and even just let off steam. Members have lost the right to act through their locals in collective bargaining; but so far, they retain at least the right to talk.
Where does all that leave local unions in the Carpenters structure? In their relationship to the union, they resemble the social committees, educational committees, women's caucuses, coalitions of black trade unionists, or any of the many other committees or subunits that unions create to carry on their activities. Like them, locals have no role in collective bargaining.
Where does it leave the district and regional councils? Since they bypass and preempt the now lifeless locals in collective bargaining, they should be required to fulfill all the obligations imposed on locals by Federal law, including the direct secret ballot vote by members in the election of council officers and in the levying of dues and assessments.
Posted by Herman Benson at 3:24 PM
Stop posting as Benson. We dont give rats ass what you opinions on the locals are anon
If this is anon, re: on english & grammar lessons - as quoted below:
"and have no effective constitutionally means of affecting" oK - WTF does that mean? Is it effect or affect? By means, do you infer the funding to file the appropriate lawsuits in District Court or Federal Court?
If Herman Bensen (RD says otherwise as he knows him)....discussions are fine, but:
Are you prepared to move this foward through the Courts with AUD as lead chair?
If so, in what forum or venue.....District Court or Federal Court. As you guys know, you can file at the State level & if & when the NLRB gets wind of it, they can take the case over via the Garmon preemption. The discussion above is weak at best & fails to state any causes of action or a prayer for relief, so exactly where are you going with this?
It seems to me that past the continual resubmission of this 'position statement' to make yourself appear intelligent, that you have nothing.
The point is simple - because the UBC does something or dictates something, it does not make it so, nor does it neccessarily make it the law of the land, which in the Labor arena once ruled upon by the NLRB Board becomes precedent unless & until overturned.
The UBC Constitution or its subordinate Councils, their EST'S & Bylaws rules & regulations as written & enforced upon their rank & file members within any UBC Local nationwide - when in direct & flagrant contravention to the NLRA are clearly unenforceable and illegal.
This will become readily apparent when properly challenged and ruled upon at the Supreme Court level. It will matter not whether the Justices at the Sup Ct are conservative or total lib's....any Justice reviewing a proper case, when deciding the merits would clearly rule upon the plain & clear language within the NLRA (the Act).
There are so many readily obvious violations within the UBC Constitution & Bylaws that the best way to address these issues is in negating or reversing Harrington v. Chao.
The entire premise of Doug's empire and his unfettered authoritarian or dictatorial control turns on the issues addressed therein and Section 7 Rights - "to seek & bargain with representatives of ones own choosing"...
Either way, whether from the Local perspective or the Council perspective.... the case can be won at each end as both require direct elections via secret ballot. Chao was won in 1-Circuit Court, the First Circuit on a lame 2-1 decision and was put forth as a "test case" simply to see if it could get through the cracks.
It needs to be challenged outside of the First Circuit (pick one) and ruled opposite of HvC & it will be ripe for Appeal & on she goes. KC would be a good arena/venue for it.
The NLRA as written & amended supports the fact that the "local" is the Labor Organization.
Post Chao & without a viable challenege, the UBC as restructured since that time supports the fact that the Councils have taken on so many of the Locals functions, that they can now be considered as the Local.
Not for nothing, the Council is simply a "larger local with a larger geographic area" to patrol, but it is still a local, legally speaking. The Supreme Court tends to issue rulings predicated upon "common sense".
Translation, take NERCC for instance - is it reasonable to proffer the idea that the 6-New England States should be considered one Local under the NLRA as originally written and subsequently amended? I believe the Sup. Ct. will say no.....too large a geographic area. I also believe that they would look at the question of in this day an age, as opposed to 1935, is that same area economically feasible for a Local Union Member to consider his or her Local - and again the answer would be a clear No!.
Point is simple - when it gets to this point, written & oral arguments, these kind of questions need to be presented. I believe that the Supreme Court will reverse Chao & remand it back to the Courts where tried to decide the issue of how large an area - in this day and age can a "Local" encompass geographically and properly "serve & represent" both its rank & file members and its Contractors.
Here is another idea to utilize against the McCarron argument in Chao, re: "Representative Democracy".
Douggie & his Attorneys argued that premise in Chao based on the Congressional structuring of District size according to Constitutional provisions requiring them to be equal in size across the land. I believe the Supreme Court & the lower Courts will use this mindset and require that Locals be sized proportionally to that kind of model.
We should know the answers to those questions prior to submititng a case. Is a 15k member Local too large to service properly? I'd say definitely. Is 300 sq. miles too large an area to service?
The question becomes then, per Tip O'Neil's mindframe (all politics are Local) where do we draw the lines....100 sq. miles & 3,000 members, 50 sq. miles & 2,000 members etc.
The NLRA required the input of both sides, not the Union & Contractors and the Funds and all of their Attorneys ganging up & running roughshod over the men & woman who generate the cash to pay their salaries & account for their profits.
McCarron can bullshit people, companies, the NLRB & US Presidents all he wants - put him before the Supreme Court & that shit won't fly, nor wil the UBC's arguments.
Does not matter either way, as Congress has not amended the NLRA in any manner consistent with the UBC position or the majority ruling in Chao. The Supreme Court actually enjoys correcting judges or the NLRB Board when they make rulings outside their competence to review & which are so readily contrary to the law(s) at hand.
This is a no brainer for them, we simply have to get it there for argument.
So the Question becomes - What Circuit Court shall we test this case in for the opposite ruling favoring return of Locals to the UBC members......
San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon 359 U.S. 236, 79 S. Ct. 773 (1959)
In reply to this post by RichardDorrough
He is 100% correct. prove to the court that the DC is really a local and you win.
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