by SHAMUS COOKE
All working people should pay attention to the egregious assault on union democracy happening in the Carpenters Union’s Pacific North West Regional Council, which covers all the Carpenter’s Locals in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, and Montana. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has a proud history and should take immediate action to overturn a recent Regional Council decision that disciplined innocent, union-dedicated Carpenters with fines and a loss of membership privileges. Those punished included twelve Carpenters who had recently won elections to lead their local union – mega-Local 156 of Oregon and South West Washington – as well as many regional delegate seats. The newly elected President and Vice President of Local 156 – as well as the other newly elected officers on the slate – are now facing fines up to $1,500 and six years of stripped membership privileges (the Carpenters interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous, for fear of further retaliation). What were the crimes of these long standing union Carpenters? They held a “get out the vote” phone bank. For this they were charged with:
1) causing dissent in the ranks
2) failure to uphold the union oath
3) defrauding the union.
The real crime of the convicted Carpenters was that they ran a well-organized election campaign promising to reform their union on a pro-democracy basis, and they won.
Their campaign succeeded because they reached out to the union rank and file at the work sites while campaigning to fight for more democracy and transparency in the union and, more importantly, for better contracts by fighting harder against the employers attempts to reduce the standard of living of the membership. The reform group raised all of the money at their disposal at work sites from rank and file Carpenters.
Turmoil had been simmering in the Regional Council for quite some time, since century-old Carpenters locals throughout the state of Oregon and South West Washington were shut down and merged into a “mega-local,” which was done in a way that restricted the democracy previously enjoyed by the smaller locals.
For example, rural carpenters were made to drive hours to attend a union meeting if they wanted a voice in their union, since their local office was closed. Statewide decisions were centralized without the ability of carpenters to participate in the decision making process on a local level. The connectedness that Carpenters felt to their union was removed by hundreds of miles; their personal investment in their union was forcibly made impersonal.
The “mega-local” phenomenon has been a virus running throughout organized labor for years, creating the above, predictable effects. The reform-minded Carpenters saw this happening in their union and fought back against it.
This restriction of democracy was also occurring at the Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, which had centralized power over the encompassing states by the Council’s ability to appoint business agents, staff organizers, and bargain contracts. Instead of the union fighting the employer for better wages, the Regional Council talked endlessly about “partnerships” with the boss, which came at the direct expense of the wages of Carpenters.
There is no evidence that the convicted carpenters did anything wrong. In fact, they have federal labor law on their side. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) was created to give basic democratic rights within all labor unions and covers basic standards for union elections and free speech rights.
The injustices committed against these carpenters negatively affects all unions, since such undemocratic practices look horrible to the general public, and provides anti-union groups with easy ammunition.
The convictions also weaken the carpenters union directly, since many of their hardest fighting pro-union members are members without membership rights. A weakened Carpenters union consequently weakens labor as a whole.
If you don't agree that the tag team of Walsh/Berman is under direct control of the general president, you have been living under a rock.
How does the general president get away with it? California senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband run McCarron like their personal puppet.
The question of the day is "WHY?"
Walter Mack knew, and he was dismissed ( TWICE ) before he could promote a way for the rank and file to recover lost power within the union. Turns out he couldn't be bought.
Whats in it for Feinstein?
don't know about you, but dual citizenship is a problem for me. But if you hold an official position that demands that you put American interests above all else -- if you should look transparent and fair to the rest of the world regarding your formation of Middle East foreign policies, then this is a dangerous trend. Even if there were no pro-Israeli agenda, the fact that decision makers have a bias or an allegiance to one of the parties involved in the current conflict should have raised red flags long before now.
If you think we're being unfair here, ask yourself: How you would react to the Head of Homeland Security if he or she were a dual national with citizenship in Iran, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia? Ask yourself why you don't feel the same about Israeli dual citizenship. Then you will understand how powerful the Israeli lobby has been in "adjusting" your acceptance of their special status.
Can one imagine a Japanese citizen serving in the Pentagon during WWII? Or how about a citizen of the Soviet Union holding a cabinet position in the White House during the Cold War?
Today's conflicts are centered in the Middle East. America needs to balance foreign policies towards oil producing Arab nations with our goal being peace and stability in the region. This places a burdon on our government to be even-handed in our dealings with the Arab world and Israel. While the Iraq War was waged on lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction and revenge for 911, the real reason has emerged as a well designed global plan to improve the power and leverage of Israel. Added to this policy is yet another potential blow to American interests and security -- the impending War with Iran. This war will be waged for the security of Israel and will be paid for by the blood of American soldiers and the hard-earned money of American citizens whose quality of life is inversely tied to the cost of petrolium.