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The Kevin Price Story



     One of approximately 21,000 members of the St Louis Carpenters District Council, Kevin Price stands to be counted! The following press release is presented unedited in its entirety:

"I've flat out told them that I don't have a vote in this dog-and-pony show," Price said. "But I do have a voice. And they'll never shut it up."

St Louis CDC member Kevin Price commenting on his battle with the St Louis CDC leadership.

NEWS RELEASE                                                                        October xx, 2010

U.S. District Court Hands Victory to Dissenting Carpenter

In Union-Raiding by the Carpenters' District Council (CDC) of Greater St. Louis

Court Rules CDC Infringed on Free Speech Rights; Issues Preliminary Injunction

     ST. LOUIS — A dues-paying member and elected delegate of the Carpenters' District Council (CDC) of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity won a victory in federal court for the right to criticize his own union for raiding the work of another union. On Oct. 8, 2010, Judge Michael j. Reagan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois granted Andrew Kevin Price a preliminary injunction to prevent the CDC from silencing him for speaking out against the union's formation of a carpenters' electrical division — Local 57.

     The court noted that "The council's support for Local 57 has been a topic of considerable discussion and severe disagreement within the union." According to the court, Local 57 was formed in 2008 at the direction of Terry Nelson, executive secretary/treasurer of the CDC. "The council then signed several non-union electrical contractors to labor agreements."

     Among the dissenters in the CDC was Price, who in the summer of 2010 put an anti-Local 57 sticker on his personal vehicle. A CDC representative ordered him to remove the sticker. When Price refused, the CDC filed charges and "...Nelson notified Price that he would stand trial on the charges October 19, 2010, conducted by a standing trial committee (of the CDC)," according to the ruling.

     In characterizing Price, the court noted: "He is a carpenter and a loyal union member. He earnestly believes that the council should spend the union's money assisting carpenters, rather than electricians. Price believes that Nelson formed Local 57 to raid other unions (trying to capture electrical work that other unions historically did), and that this policy is detrimental to the future and long-term goals of the Carpenters' union. Price also believes that Local 57 harms union solidarity and runs contra to the traditional notion of 'brotherhood."'

     After weighing the evidence, Judge Reagan granted the preliminary injunction in favor of Price, halting the CDC's efforts to put him on trial before its internal tribunal and infringe on his right to free speech.

     "The message is clear. Rank and file carpenters are free to exercise their right of free speech within their union as it relates to Local 57 without fear of reprisal," said Christopher N. Grant of Schuchat, Cook & Werner, the law firm that represents Price. "Indeed, the court said it best: 'Price is a proud and loyal member of his own Carpenters union who wants to preserve that union. He vehemently disagrees with certain policies advocated by his current union leaders -- policies he believes are antithetical to the best interests of his beloved union.' ... The right to reform a union from within is protected."

The ruling is case number 10-cv-0741-MJR-PMF and is linked HERE

The following excerpt appeared in the St Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune October 21-27, 2010 Edition.

Disagreement over Local 57 widespread in CDC, but so is 'fear' to speak out

     The discontent regarding the action of the Carpenters' District Council's leadership to form an electrical Local 57 within the carpenters union is widespread among members, and even some of the union's leadership, but no one wants "to make waves because Nelson (Terry Nelson, the union's top executive) will chop their head off."

     Speaking out candidly to the Labor Tribune, 20-year member Kevin Price is himself a delegate to the Carpenters' District Council (CDC) that is supposed to be the ruling body of the CDC.

     "I've heard plenty of bitching (about Local 57) and a lot of his leadership disagrees with him (Nelson) but members don't want to pursue it. The men are afraid to put them on (the 'NO 57' stickers), but we may see more now," Price added, referring to the ruling last week by a federal judge that carpenters can freely express their opinions about Lo­cal 57, which includes wearing anti-57 stickers, without fear of retribution.

     He said that a CDC official "pretty high up (who also disagreed with the 57 decision) was about to tear his hair out over this issue."

     "The members say it's wrong. Nelson says it's to protect our work, and I'm all for protecting carpenter jobs. But he's taken it to an extreme. There are other ways to settle disagreements. You don't go out and start your own union," Price noted.

     Using an example of his brother he said that they have disagreements, and "we don't get along all the times, but we work it out."

     Nelson has lost sight of what his job is, Price said. "He's acting like the CEO of a company and that members are his commodity. That's not right. He's the representative of us; the bosses are the 20,000 union members in the council."


     "Yes, I'm a bit nervous about it all. Some members tell me I'm cutting my own throat by standing up," Price admitted. "I'm hoping that more of my union brothers will now stand up."

     He added that he has been warned that, "they're going to hurt you. Your union's never going to help you now." To that he replies, "We'll just find out. I'm a carpenter, I'll always be a carpenter. I believe in brother­hood. I've got brothers in my union, and union broth­ers in the Ironworkers, Sheet Metal workers and Pipe Fitters. By all of us standing together, we are stronger."

     He proudly adds that his father was a union pipefitter working in the 50's at Shell Oil. "To me we're a brother­hood. We stand together, all unions."

     However, he said that Nelson himself told him, "Why call it a brotherhood? It's a business."

     Not to me it's not," Price responded.

Other sources carrying the story:

St Louis Post Dispatch - Carpenter tops his own union in free speech case

The Southern Illinoisan - Judge: Union can't stifle carpenter