Archive for January, 2014

The State of the Union

Naming the newly merged union of building trades sheet metal workers and transportation workers the SMART union was a good idea.  SMART was a clever name for the new entity.  It is a name that promotes a positive image for its members and was a  really excellent public relations choice.  However, in real life this great public relations name, without success on the ground, would be just like facial makeup or a smiley face.  Make-up cannot protect SMART from the anti-union forces besieging unions in America.  SMART is only a name.  And who can really say we are a smarter union thanks to the merger?  Still there is some action coming out of Nigro’s Washington that seems to be evidence of the actual potential and direction of our new union.

What drove the urge to merge was declining membership and weakened union finances and a compulsive need, by a compulsive leadership to do something to halt drift; to take charge of events rather than being pushed around and down by forces outside ones control.   So far, it’s good, the merge has caused no harm and no foul; it is a bookkeeping device and a new way of counting the successes and failures of our new union.  Still, if we look carefully we see increasing evidence that SMART in its own way is addressing the problems of declining membership and the problems of organizing union sheet metal workers, problems which have seriously weakened and diminished the I.A. over these last several decades.   Only time will tell if the I.A.’s choice of tactics will succeed.

But even without being privy to the special insight and luxury that must come with being an appointed General President or an appointee to any of the overflowing appointed political positions available to I.A. social climbers, it would seem that the I.A. is leaving enough clues here and there, as to which one of the two basic approaches to SMART problem solving, Joseph Nigro has chosen for this union.

The first choice has its roots in the time tested and wise counsel of Sam Gompers: ORGANIZE!  If it moves, organize it!  Grow and protect your jurisdiction!  In this approach the I.A. must choose to become a FORCE in successful organizing or slowly but surely – perish.  The second choice is a more modern approach derived from the modern leadership behavior of the (anal) compulsive.  The second approach is like the urge to merge; it is a compulsive urge to do something – anything.  We might, for example, expect to see the I.A. tidying up the homeland.  Getting the books and records and finances and officer retirement packages in good order is a favored strategy in this modern approach.  And just to be sure everything is ship-shape across the Land of High Fives; the second approach will also compel the I.A. to tidy up everyone else’s books and records, as in Local 28.  This second approach is kind of like estate planning for the terminally ill.   Hmmmm?

Thus the state of our union is that we best keep a sharp eye out for the evidence as to which approach Nigro’s SMART takes toward problem solving.  And then, plan accordingly. 🙂




The I.A. is not known for thrift.  Whatever amount you send, they spend.  In 2004, the I.A. take, in dues and assessments was $187,852,915.00.  They spent every last dime, and then some.  Joe Nigro and the boys have high-end tastes.  They have to consider future costly travel and trip and meal expenses and fatter salaries and fatter pensions, which unlike yours they like to fund at a 100% rate, not the flimsy 57% rate of the NPF.  In 2012 thanks to great management at headquarters, the  take for the I.A. was down to $50,081,939.00.   Of course, given I.A. lifestyles, spending a mere $50 million was a no brainer and it was very easily accomplished.  In 2012, they therefore, spent $49,959,913.00.

This year, there is another I.A. General Convention.  And given the history of these conventions/coronations a Nigro dues and assessments increase is a certainty to be approved this year.  The I.A. boys cannot achieve the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed on a mere $50 million per year.  Salaries have to rise, pensions have to rise, air fare (to NYC) and hotels (in NYC) have to be paid and they are not cheap.  The boys also have to get back to buying season tickets at the Nationals and Redskins games.  And do not even whisper to them the thought of a belt tightening or a walk down from their notorious salaries, as theirs is the Kingdom of High Fives, where each and every one of them is deserving of whatever the traffic will bear and the undying admiration of the membership.  Therefore, for this membership, it is time to bend over.  Retirees, active members, apprentices and production workers will soon be seeing the next wasteful increase in the rising cost of I.A. membership.  What is left for us and them, is to figure out how much of a dues increase they can get away with – and how they are going to dress up the official storyline about how continued I.A. success, cost money.  Ughhh!







This chart should make every member of the I.A. uncomfortable, not just the members of Local 28.  It is an approximation of the information contained in the NPF Actuarial report for 2012.  Let’s hope Joe Nigro takes notice as well.  This is all happening on his watch as General President.  The trustees of the NPF cannot clap with one hand.  The trustees do not organize new members.    (Note to Joe:  Merging will not help.)  Joe has to get his game on or it’s game over.  If current trends continue the worst is yet to come.  The NPF desperately needs a dramatic increase in active participants (sheet metal workers) supporting and contributing to the NPF.  If current trends continue unabated, in less than ten years the NPF will have more pensioners than actives.  That’s not good, Joe.  In the year 2012 we had 55,000 actives supporting 46,000 pensioners.   Please, no more business as usual in High Five Land.  It’s getting late.


Salt in the wounds

Joe Nigro and the boys take care of themselves.  Union officials who believe they are entitled to spend $75,000.00 on season tickets to not one, but three professional sports teams in Washington, DC are morally bankrupt.  These kinds of expenditure are borderline criminal.  (enter 000-073 file #)  These are the same self serving hypocrites who now concern themselves with Local 28’s expenditures.  Meanwhile they take and demand princely salaries, pensions and lifestyles for themselves all on your dime.  Nigro wrote these checks.  He and DiOrio pretend they are worried about a $75+- charge in Local 28.  Ventlies believes there is massive hypocrisy and greed running amuck in the I.A., not to mention doubtfully legal political retribution being inflicted on Local 28.  These tickets help prove that case.  Shame on them all.


Type or Classification (B)
Purpose (C) Date (D) Amount (E)
Total Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $9,540
Total Non-Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $840
Total of All Transactions with this Payee/Payer for This Schedule $10,380
SEASON TICKETS 04/24/2007 $9,540
Name and Address (A)
Type or Classification (B)
Purpose (C) Date (D) Amount (E)
Total Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $30,140
Total Non-Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $0
Total of All Transactions with this Payee/Payer for This Schedule $30,140
CHRISTMAS PARTY 02/02/2007 $30,140
Name and Address (A)
LARGO MD 20792
Type or Classification (B)
Purpose (C) Date (D) Amount (E)
Total Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $14,438
Total Non-Itemized Transactions with this Payee/Payer $0
Total of All Transactions with this Payee/Payer for This Schedule $14,438

The Magical Kingdom of High Fives


I.A. Membership:  From 108K to 92K – Loss: 15,493      National Pension Fund: funded at .57 cents on the dollar  etc.,  etc.


Imagine the high fives in Washington when Joe and the boys found Local 28 to scapegoat and criticize.  With 28 to harp on, they have no need to self examine their own dismal record at the I.A.  Why bother themselves with a reality check?  This way, like the wicked witch in the fairytale Snow White,  they can keep their Magic Mirror which tells them how uniquely deserving they are of  princely salaries and membership adulation.  Instead, thanks to the Local 28 diversion, each of them can now continue to bask in mutual admiration in the land of High Fives all Around.

When Joe and the I.A. boys look in their Magic Mirror they see and hear glory unto thee.   Criticism is verboten in High Five land.  Its a great work environment for the thin skinned and shirkers.  Wannabes.  They enjoy Washington, its not the gritty trenches where the members toil.  Its far, far away from the trenches, away from the membership.  The same trenches where the membership for decades have paid through the nose for debacle after debacle in ALL  I.A. funds and witnessed the long sad decline of a once proud International Association of Building Trades Sheet Metal Workers.

With Local 28 to harass, the I.A. boys don’t have to look in a real mirror and take the blame for a failure of leadership and a shirking of duty to the membership; not to mention, responsibility and ownership of a greedy grab at princely salaries where Nigro deems himself worth  more than the President of the United States.



Reality Check

Bob DiOrio is charging Local 28 officials with financial malpractice because the monthly cost of a cell phone used by a former Local 28 official was not collected.  If that financial malpractice allegation were true, the cost to Local 28, would be about $75.00 give or take some change.

Since 2004, thru September 2013, the National Pension Fund failed to collect the staggering sum of $96,419,026.00 in pension fund contributions.  It should also be noted that the NPF has written off $54,419,685.00 of that money as uncollectible.  Which means that almost $100,000,000.00 in accrued pension benefits went unfunded during that period.  And that is just one of their over hocked funds.   GEEEEZ!

Are Nigro and DiOrio are engaged  in an unjustified political witch hunt here in Local 28?   Methinks, there are those in Washington, not Local 28, who  should be removed or resign from their jobs.


Defamation & Pretext

A false accusation of conduct that damages another’s reputation is generally regarded as defamation.   Defamation through negligence is wrongful and actionable.  Deliberate, falsehoods make defamation worse.  Falsely accusing another of criminal conduct makes it even more offensive.   There is written defamation and oral defamation.

Joe Nigro and Bob DiOrio  may be on track to take home the grand  prize of all defamations.  The linchpin pretext of the I.A. trusteeship over 28, as gamed by Nigro and DiOrio was their accusation that selected Local 28 officials unlawfully enriched themselves through “double dipping”.  Nigro and DiOrio assaulted the reputations of these officials in writing and orally, knowingly and deliberately, and then topped it off by accusing them of criminal conduct.  If the I.A. accusations against these officials are true, the accused are criminals.  If the accusations are untrue, Nigro and DiOrio are defamers.  Which is it?  Was this a grand slam of stupidity by a pair of reckless I.A. harpies?  Or was Local 28, thanks to the due diligence of Nigro and DiOrio, saved from a criminal cabal?

Let’s see?  These accusations have been out there, published, since November 13, 2013.  The accusations were cemented into place in the  minds of Local 28’s membership by the I.A. when Nigro and DiOrio suspended or removed the accused from office.  Since November ’13 there has been more than enough time for the I.A. to confirm their charges or reconsider their charges.  There has been no retraction of the charges by the I.A.   There has been no apology.  If there was defamation of these officials by the I.A., it therefore continues today, unabated, knowingly and deliberately.

Perplexingly however, for the membership, the I.A. has just seen fit to return three criminally accused BAs to the office which they were recently elected after having accused them and removed them from office for double dipping, et al.  Hmmmm?

All of which inescapably leads us to a choice of two ugly answers to two uglier questions: whether the I.A. was unerringly inept in returning  three criminals to office?  Or whether the I.A. was unerringly officious and malicious in charging them with crimes in the first instance?

What say you, Joe Nigro,  Bob DiOrio?  And what say you, I.A. VPs, Whately, Word and Zimmerman who robotically ratified this misbegotten trusteeship?

What say you, the membership?



BAs Back

Frank Nitto, Ray Minieri and Ralph Tortora have been returned to the road as Local 28 Business Agents effective Monday, January 13, 2014.  Ventlines has no information regarding terms or conditions of the reinstatement, if any.  TWO TO GO!   KEVIN & JIMMY.

Meslin-Suffolk       Nitto-Nassau/Queens N of 495          Minieri-Nassau/Queens S of 495  & Staten Island        Mays-Brooklyn

Keene-Manhattan Eastside          McBrearty-Manhattan Westside        Tortora-Bronx/ Manhattan above 65th St.



Today I was interviewed by Mr. Howard Naiman, a staff investigator for the US Department of Labor (US DOL).  Mr. Naiman conducted the interview in response to a complaint as to whether the I.A. imposed trusteeship is valid.  Mr. Naiman is conducting an investigation that will help determine whether or not the DOL will intercede on behalf of the members of 28.    Interviews with various I.A. staff and Local 28 officers, will take place to determine whether the complaint against the I.A. has any basis in fact.   Stay tuned.  Copies of the complaint letters are in Ventlines December 2013 Archive.



If Joe Nigro, at the next  SMART general convention, gets himself elected General President of SMART, like Michael Sullivan who earned $1,043,023.00 in salary and expenses in 2011, Nigro someday may be on his way to a similar salary bonanza substantially in excess of $1,000,000.00, plus expenses. Therefore, following on Joe’s concern with unjustified union expenditures, it seems fair to ask: Does the I.A. membership think Joe or any SMART General President is worth in excess of a $1,000,000.00 salary?

Vote here!  Just click on the COMMENT link above this blog and submit your one word answer.  YES or NO

NO    None of them are worthy of that kind of money.

YES   Give them $1,000,000.00 plus the silver.