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Re: MWA MOU 11 January 2014
— by Ted Ted
re-post: Dated December 15, 2012  10:47 pm

An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker


An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members To Matt Walker

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From: James Smith, Acting Recording Secretary, Local 2790
Subject: An Open Email Regarding Wage Grading of Local 2790 Members
To:        Matt Walker, Director of Operations, NYCDCC
Cc:        Dennis Walsh, Dick Roth, Scott Danielson,  Michael Bilello, Michael Cavanaugh, The Delegates and Executive Board of Local 2790,

At the Executive Board Meeting of Local 2790 which took place Monday night, there was a lengthy discussion regarding a troubling issue affecting the members of our Local. Our members are essentially being discriminated against on the basis of what Local they are a member of, through Wage Grading. As an Executive Board we feel it is in the best interests of the members we represent  that we publicly write you and the leadership of the District Council about this issue in the hopes that by shedding some light on it, we can all work together to resolve these issues to the benefit of the members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters.

In the MWA CBA, Article III, Section 9 (“Installation of Custom Millwork Manufactured in Employers Shop”) allows for Signatory MWA Shops to install woodwork at a pay & benefit rate considerably lower than that of the W&CA CBA. This is called “The Outside Modified Shop Rate”. There are requirements for a shop to obtain this “bargain” rate. For example, 80% of the work has to be manufactured in that shop while the remaining 20% must bear a union label. Also, no more than two workers can install woodwork at this rate on any given job. MWA contractors routinely violate these rules by installing subcontracted  woodwork, not bearing a union label well in excess of 20% on a job (in some instances up to 100% of a job will be manufactured at a non-union shop and installed at the lower
rate). In addition, MWA Contractors will employ more than two workers on a jobsite at the discount rate. Some of these members have never even set foot in a shop before, but get paid less than their fellow members of the NYCDCC for the same work. All of this is simply determined by what Local the members are from and that is why we consider this discrimination.

Furthermore, Miller/Blaker, a Local 2790 Shop located in The Bronx, discriminates against our members on the basis of what date they started work with the company. In the Miller/Blaker CBA, which was handcrafted by The UBC International Representatives, there are two different pay rates. One for members who were working with the company prior to the signing of the agreement, the other rate is for members who started work after the agreement  was signed. New workers in the company receive less pay for the same work. Another important note, if a worker who is receiving the higher pay rate is laid off from the company for an extended period of time, he/she will then receive the lower pay rate if they are rehired by Miller/Blaker.

Lastly, Rimi Woodcraft another Local 2790 shop in The Bronx exploits their finishers. Rimi Woodcraft owns a refurbishing shop directly across the street from its main factory. The refurbishing shop signed an agreement  with The District Council that pays less than the standard shop rate. The reason was that this refurbishing shop is only supposed to repair and refinish damaged woodwork. All
new woodwork is to be finished in the main factory where they pay their workers the full shop rate. Over time, Rimi took advantage of this graded wage and now has all of its finishing work, both new and old,
performed across the street in the cheaper refurbishing shop. The Finishing Department in the main Rimi factory is now closed.

The members of Local 2790 feel that the Miller/Blaker agreement, The Outside Modified Shop Rate, and the Rimi Corporate Refinishing Agreement are discriminatory at worst; and at best they violate everything The United Brotherhood of Carpenters stands for.
Local 2790 members are now working side by side with members of other locals, performing the same work at lower modified shop rates. The lower modified rates were intended to keep our members working in slower economic times; to remain employed. This ideal is no longer being honored and we are being laid off as quickly as the outside members.

Many decades ago, the Millwrights had adapted to the changing times and stopped manufacturing the gears and blades of the wind and watermills when materials changed to metal. They adapted and installed what was previously their work. Currently, more and more woodwork is being manufactured outside of NYC and as a result the shop numbers are dwindling. We have to adapt to these changes, and like the Millwrights of long ago we have to now install what we once manufactured to survive. However with wage grading, union millworkers are having difficulty installing millwork with wages and benefits at area standards.
So as a result, Apprentices and Journeyman of our Local are leaving so they can get paid an honest wage. There are literally apprentices who have switched locals, continued to work with the same contractor, and have effectively received a pay raise, all by leaving Local 2790.

Section 2, Paragraph 1 (“Objects”) of the UBC Constitution States: 
“ The objects of the United Brotherhood are…to coordinate bargaining
toward the goal of taking wages out of competition, and by legal and proper means to elevate the moral, intellectual and social conditions of all our members and to improve the trade in every way possible.”

Section 3, Paragraph 4 (“Faithful Work”) of the UBC Constitution States:
“We hold it as a sacred principle that Trade Unionists, above all others, should set a good example as good and faithful workers, performing their duties to their employers with honor to themselves and their organization. We do not recognize the practice of grading skilled workers.”

Section 3, Paragraph 6 (“Other Interests”) of the UBC Constitution States:
“We recognize that the interests of all labor are identical regardless of occupation, sex, nationality, religion, or color, for a wrong done to one is a wrong done to all. We oppose all unlawful discrimination and harassment against workers, whether based on race, gender, nationality or any other basis…”

Section 60, Paragraph 2 (“Standing Decisions of the General Executive Board”) of the UBC Constitution States:

“September 17, 1887 - Grading wages is demoralizing to Union principles and to the welfare of the trade and no Local Union should adopt the system of grading wages.”

Furthermore, Peter J. McGuire, the founder of The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has stated:
“…Every city should be organized and the wages of all advanced to a uniform standard.”
The Carpenter, May 1881
“…Competition among ourselves reduces wages and renders one working man the victim of another…”
Preamble to the UBC Constitution, 1881

In closing, these agreements  and wage grades do nothing to serve the interests of the members of this Local. Furthermore they actually hurt other Locals, such as 157, 926, 45, and 20. Members of Local 2790 are being hired over members of other Locals members simply because they are cheaper. We feel that no member of any Local in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters should be hired over another, to do the same work for less pay. We as a Local want to see all our members employed, on the basis of skill. Considering that the MWA is currently in negotiations with The District Council on a new agreement; any CBA whether it be proposed or existing, with a trade association or a small company; containing language that grades wages or in any other way discriminates against the members of this Local or any other Local is in direct conflict with The UBC Constitution.

On behalf of the members of Local 2790, James Smith
Acting Recording Secretary