– Re: Newly hired business reps, qualifications?
In Reply To
Mr. Liguori. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Congressmen, Congresswoman. I started in construction in 1977 with a house frame on Long Island. In 1985, I joined the Carpenters' Union. Since then, I've worked in many phases of carpentry. I've been a worker, a foreman, a super, and a shop steward. I've been the Vice President of a local union, and I'm now the Vice President of Carpenters for Democracy of New York City.
I want you to understand I'm not here today to hurt my union but to help it regain or gain its democratic governance by its rank-and-file membership. In June of 1996, our International President placed our district council into trusteeship. I believed at the time the UBC had come to help our district council rid itself of mob influence but have since learned there was much more to Douglas McCarron's motives than helping the working carpenter.
I also would like to mention before I go any further that our Council is under a consent decree with the U.S. Government, and the UBC was assisted by the IRO, Kenneth Conboy to obtain the trusteeship. I also would like to note the IRO's tenure under the consent decree was about to expire at the time UBC took over the Council. The UBC extended its tenure at the time of the takeover at a cost of $65,000 a month. Ever since, the IRO has been writing shining reports to the court regarding Mr. McCarron's actions, and it seems every time he writes a report he get another extension of his tenure. Just recently, in June, his tenure again expired in time for a court battle we are having with the UBC regarding elections the trusteeship. Again, he wrote a shining report and again he got an extension; this time for one year on a bill as necessary basis plus expenses. In my opinion, this shows collusion and corruption between the IRO and the UBC.
Douglas McCarron has been taking over district councils throughout the United States as well as Canada and merging them and the local unions without a vote or the membership's consent and forming what he and the UBC Constitution call Regional Councils. I believe the New York City District Council's takeover had less to do with fighting corruption and more to do with Douglas McCarron's methodical creation of his personal and publicized goal of restructuring our union which is no more than a building of his own private empire.
In New York, it seems corruption in the form of members being intimidated into submission is at its worse. Men and women are in fear of losing their jobs or of being brought up bogus union charges as I was. In April of 1997, at my local union meeting, I seconded a motion to hold elections for our local union officers regardless of the fact that the UBC's position was opposed to this. The elections were never to take place, and charges were filed against me on May 12, 1997 for seconding that motion. I have submitted copies of these charges to your committee.
These charges were causing dissention; advocating separation; improper harassment of any member of the United Brotherhood violating the obligation and violating section 34 which are the duties of the Vice President. This is not even a charge in our Constitution. A trial on these charges were held on March 19, 1998, nearly a year later, and after the UBC had won a court battle against the New York local unions that are opposed to Mr. McCarron's restructuring plan. The trial committee which was appointed by the UBC and consisted of members who were appointed by the UBC, the paying jobs in the district council and local unions as business agents, organizers, officers, and shop stewards. This court found me guilty of all the charges, of course, and fined me a maximum of each, totalling $1,500. These charges and the fines were no more than one of the many intimidation tactics the UBC has been inflicting on our membership. I have become a major target because of my letter writing and my outspokenness, as well as that I am one of the leaders of the New York City Carpenters for Democracy.
Our dissident group, the UBC cronies and the Federal court-appointed IRO, the honorable Kenneth Conboy, holds meetings monthly and sometimes bi-monthly. The UBC's people have taken steps to intimidate our members so they would be afraid to come to our meetings. A business agent has been told by the UBC's daily supervisor of the New York City District Council that if said agent's local union officers were seen at our meeting again, they would be removed, and that if he couldn't keep his people, quote, "in line," unquote, he would lose his job as well. Another member from a different local was told by his business manager that if he went to our meetings he would never be a shop steward again. Another member who got involved and became an officer of our organization and who is a wounded Vietnam War veteran was removed as a shop steward from his job by the UBC's cronies for bogus reasons. He has since filed suit against the council with the National Labor's Relations Board and filed union charges against the UBC's appointee who removed him.
All the affirmation parties have contacted the Department of Labor as well as the court-appointed IRO about these violations but, to date, have received no relief. I and my attorney have written complaints to the United States Attorney, Mary Jo White about this, as well as the Honorable Judge Charles Essay, Jr. who rules on the consent decree our council is under, and, to date, we have received no answer or any form of relief.
The United States Constitution guarantees every America citizen the right to freedom of speech and assembly. The Landrum-Griffin Act and the Bill of Rights for members of labor organizations within also guarantees us these rights and is supposed to protect us from this intimidation that is no less than labor racketeering, yet it goes on, and it goes unchecked.
Many members are afraid to come forward, not just in New York but all around the United States of America for fear of being blackballed by the UBC's appointed army. This is well demonstrated by a letter of complaint of the UBC's actions in an issue of Hard Hat News from a member from Ohio who signs anonymous for fear of reprisals. I have submitted a copy of this to your committee.
I have been brought on charges. I've had my life threatened, and I was physically attacked during a local union meeting by beneficiaries of the UBC's dictatorship in front of the IRO's agent, Jack Mitchell. I cannot and will not give in to this intimidation, but I and others like me are the exception not the rule. Rank-and-file members have no internal remedies to fight this. It seems as if the Department of Labor has turned its back on our membership in favor of the leadership who controls our money and political assets. It even seems as if Lady Justice is not only blind, but deaf as well.
Mr. McCarron and his cohorts who include construction bigs Ronald Tutor, Bob Georgine, and investment magnet, Richard C. Blum, who is Senator Diane Feinstein's husband, are doing very well for themselves by investing our pension and annuity money in real estate and construction investments. McCarron, Tutor, and Blum are all on the board of directors of PRE Corporation, one of the largest construction funds in the United States of America. For Mr. McCarron to be on that board of a contract seems to be a direct conflict of interest. How can he represent the worker to the boss if he is the boss? Also, I would like you to know within the last election year in California the inordinate amount of money that was paid to Richard C. Blum for his work investing their money was a way of steering union funds to his wife's campaign. I believe the amount was in the area of $4 million.
I ask Congress to close the gaps in the LMRDA that allows a union's constitution to overwrite. I ask that the Congress do away with delegate bodies in the LMRDA in favor of the "one man, one vote" referendums. We have no say in our union affairs and governance. Lastly, I ask the Democrats to start thinking about the workers instead of the union boss. It is after all the workers' money that the union bosses have been giving you for your campaign funds.
The Landrum-Griffin bill passed on the floor of the Senate 90 to 1 on April 25th, 1959. The House adopted the bill on August 6, 1959. Today, we stand before you in 1998, some 39 years later, asking you to help us get those same rights back. Our country prides itself on its democracy. We send our children to war to fight and die protecting the democracy of people worldwide. Our President will appraise their governments for their newfound democracy and yet allows his fellow Americans to suffer under a dictatorship such as the one we face.
I find it hard to believe our Government has led its own people in our county's labor organizations like ours fall prey to this corruption and autocratic rule, yet our union's democracy is gone. One man has complete autocratic rule even though Congress passed the Illinois VA and the Bill of Rights for members of labor organizations within in 1959. Thank you.
[The statement of Mr. Lebo follows:]
written STATEMENT OF WILLIAM S. LEBO, CARPENTERS FOR UNION DEMOCRACY, baldwin new york - see appendix f
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM S. LEBO, CARPENTERS FOR UNION DEMOCRACY, baldwin new york