Archive for January, 2014

WERE YOU INVITED

Joe Nigro and Bob DiOrio raise as a Local 28 trusteeship “issue,” $8,000.00 in Local 28 total expense reimbursements.  Hmmm?

Is it possible then, that they might also find concern with a $259,000.00 I.A. expenditure/receipt for a retirement party in Washinton, D.C.?   The amount is listed as a reimbursement? on Schedule 14 of the I.A.’s 2012 LM 2 Report.   Help us out Joe.  Was someone down there ballsy enough to spend $259,000.00 of I.A. membership/affiliate money on a Michael Sullivan retirement bash?  If so, Who?   Help us get to the bottom of this “issue”.  Put Bob DiOrio on the case.  The members, to be sure would appreciate a full explanation?  We’ll wait.

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Here and There

Here, we have in Local 28, a pack of  I.A. apparatchiks and Joe Nigro, all unelected, all out-of-towners, all politically motivated  and all them, obsessive nitpickers, snooping around 28 and telling us what is wrong with our NY local and the officers we have just elected.

There, we have in the I.A., a vast cast of obsequious, appointed officials, all of whom have managed for far too many years, to sleep much too soundly while they resided near to, and presided over the failings of our multi-billion dollar National Pension Fund (NPF); the pension fund for the membership that they grotesquely mismanaged for decades, even as they knowingly watched it weaken until now, where it is dangerously close to outright failure. (.57cents on the dollar)

What to do?

Here, we have lost our leadership, we have but three business agents, no membership meetings, a DiOrio newsletter on the way, jobs flying out the window and a demoralized membership.

There, we have the I. A.’s current leadership dream team, all appointed and all frightened into a merge to survive mentality,  presiding over a declining national roll of union sheet metal shops, stagnant to declining hours of national employment, declines in the journeyman ranks, ever increasing dues and per capita taxes, another dream team that takes princely salaries and expense accounts (Nigro $459,000.00) with superb medical benefits and super sized and super secure, separate I.A. pensions for themselves, all for what would fairly seem to an outsider as, busy  work, full of ceremony and minutiae, amid the embarrassing wreckage of national decline.

What to do?

Here and around the country rank and file sheet metal workers are made to fear for their retirement and plod behind the I.A.’s ever weakening wake or lie below their officious boot.

There, you are told you must pay evermore into all their hocked funds or risk losing evermore riskier pensions and benefits.

What to do?

Would anyone seriously object to an 28 trusteeship if the I.A. had a well earned reputation for excellence?  Would you object if you knew for example, that I.A. experts were coming to town to restore all your funds to near perfect financial health?  What if the I.A. had a brilliant record of organizing and they said they were going to miraculously organize the unorganized throughout Metropolitan NY.  Most members would be tickled pink to know their Taft-Hartley funds were being excellently managed  and rejuvenated, that they weren’t just throwing good money after bad as with the NPF.  They would love to believe that the I.A. experts were about to shut down the non-union sheet metal industry in NY and bring back hundreds if not a thousand new union jobs.  The answer is No.  You would not object to expert help from the I.A. under those circumstances.  You would welcome it.

But alas, the I.A. has no such reputation for expertise and no record of enduring accomplishments.  It is but a bureaucracy.  So where do we turn?  Here or there?

What to do?

Pray they go away or make them go away?

Here, what we have instead are fauxe I.A. experts and leadership.  Here, their vision is that three Business Agents will adequately cover the geography of Local 28.  Here, the members do not need and will not get regular membership meetings.  Here we get a newsletter.  Here the I.A. would now brazenly and secretly appoint as officials, individuals whom the membership in free elections have just turned away.  Here they think the membership is leaderless and therefore poses no threat to the mindless monolith that has become the I.A.  Here they will impose their discredited and unsuccessful methods and rationale on your trust funds.

So where do we turn?  Here or there?  Thus far the I.A. has shown us nothing with this second trusteeship.  Except that their vision for 28 smells a lot like their record at the national level.  What do we do?

What we do is: Keep the faith HERE in free trade unionism!  We will be back.  And someday soon, they will be gone.

 

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DiOrio’s Best

Joe Nigro is the only individual in the entire I.A., empowered by the SMART constitution to remove a local union official from office.  Still, he deliberately chose not to write the two sentence letter to Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo informing them of their removal from elected office.  Bob DiOrio wrote the letter!  Nor did Joe Nigro write to the membership (I received my letter today) informing the  members of the current state of  Local 28’s affairs and the trusteeship that was implemented by Joe Nigro on November 13, 2013.  DiOrio wrote the letter!  

Still we have to deal with what we have, when we have it.  And all we have at this moment is DiOrio’s best effort at explaining to this membership the I.A.’s rationale for reinstituting the second trusteeship along with some alleged samples of Local 28’s bookkeeping failures; and why Kevin and Jimmy are “responsible” for the “double dipping issue”.  We are also, I believe, supposed to be more informed, thanks to DiOrio’s letter as to why the trusteeship was necessary and who caused the local to “…go in the wrong direction.”  And of course,  we are now aware that Bob DiOrio “offered guidance and advisement” to the Local 28 officials which he says was ignored.  In the letter DiOrio also gave “guidance and advisement” to the members that from now on there will be no more regularly scheduled membership meetings.  Bob instead will be in touch through a DiOrio “newsletter”.  Bob’s letter,  to be sure, was supposed to reassure the membership  that our individual destinies are in good hands with Bob DiOrio at the helm of Local 28 and Joe Nigro in the back ground as the chief director.   Hmmm.

Every member is entitled to an opinion as to whether DiOrio’s letter was equal to the task.  My opinion is that the letter failed.  It gets an F.  After reading his letter I don’t feel better about the state of Local 28’s affairs.  In fact, I am deeply concerned about what is happening at 500 Greenwich Street and even more concerned about what is happening at 1750 New York Avenue in Washington, D.C.

A Nigro letter would have been ghost written by a lawyer.  DiOrio’s letter was by his own hand.  DiOrio’s was rambling, disjointed, full of half finished ideas, deliberately vague and an almost incoherent rehash of Nigro’s letter of November 13th, 2013. (lawyer ghosted)  But DiOrio’s  was an important letter, to an important audience.  And I am sure it was DiOrio’s best effort.  It was DiOrio’s best because Nigro chose not to write the letter.  Cap that failing factoid with  the full on reality that DiOrio and Nigro are in full charge of Local 28’s future, not to mention the I.A.’s. and that letter should give any fair minded member, anywhere in the I.A. a nervous tick.  Local 28’s membership should give them an F.  I give them both an F on effort and content.  And the membership and officials of our sister locals throughout the entire I.A. should give them both an F.  And that includes the members of SMARTS’ transport local unions who should now be wondering aloud about the wisdom of the merger they have just consummated with Joe Nigro.

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GET READY

Today is a bad news day for Local 28 and the I.A.   Joe Nigro has permanently removed Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo from their elected office effective January 1, 2014.

Local 28′s President/Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer received the news by phone from I.A. trustee Bob DiOrio.   And they also received a two sentence letter signed by DiOrio informing them of their removal.  Nigro chose not to sign the letter.    Hmmm.

They were removed without charges, without trial and without an opportunity for a defense.   Kevin and Jimmy were removed from their elected office with a summary decision by SMART General President Nigro.  Using language from the I.A. Constitution which is so broad that it almost invites illegal conduct, Nigro argues that the I.A. Constitution holds, that once a trusteeship has been established, all elected officers and business agents serve at the pleasure of the General President of SMART.  The I.A. Constitution, according to Nigro, claims that any petty tyrant General President, not the membership, decides who will be the officers of Local 28.

Local 28 Business Agents, Ray Minieri, Frank Nitto and Ralph Tortora have not been notified of their status.

The sentiment of the membership unanimously expressed at the I.A. panel hearing in defense of our officers, was apparently ignored by the Nigro hand-picked panelists. The panel was supposed to hear the evidence for and against the Nigro trusteeship. The hearing, it seems, was a charade, just another skulk-like  I.A. deed against Local 28, of which no one ought be proud.  The panel’s decision is all the more painful because so many members had pinned so much hope on the ability and integrity of the three panelists to see beyond the Nigro orchestrated political punishment of Local 28 and its officers.

Legal remedies are available to the suspended officials of Local 28 who were illegally and arbitrarily singled out for punishment by Joe Nigro.  It remains to be seen what legal route these officers and agents will follow.  There is a lot at stake.  Not just for the officers who ought to be restored to office with their reputations cleared.  But also for the I.A., which has got to be cleansed of the thug-like influence and tactics of bad actors like Joe Nigro.  The I.A. Constitutional language as used and interpreted by individuals like Nigro has got to be challenged and overturned for the sake of democracy and free trade unionism.

Nigro and his collaborators have shamed and defamed the reputation of Local 28, its officers, its members and SMART itself.  They ought to be brought to legal account, personally if possible.  All fair-minded members of this union, who feel the same, must stand foursquare with that effort.  Get Ready.  Say,  No to Joe.

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