Archive for February, 2014

Dead Man Walking

Rumor has it that Joe and DiOrio are searching for or grooming a replacement for Kevin Connors.  Considering the fact the I.A. so casually tried to soil the reputations of the elected officials they either suspended or removed from office, the replacement rumor doesn’t surprise.  Nothing about Joe and DiOrio surprises anymore.

What would surprise is if a Local 28 member/official would allow himself to be used as a SCAB to break the will of Local 28.

Nigro may have the legal authority to appoint a Local 28, President/Business Manager – but he lacks even the odor of necessary moral authority.  Meaning that anyone who falls in step with Nigro and DiOrio on such a gambit is a political DEAD MAN WALKING on his way to infamy in Local 28.


Timely, Sad and Embarrassing

Click on the link.  Its wake up time.

Retired GP Michael Sullivan made the right wing Fox News hit list.  This was aired in May of 2012, long before most of 28 knew what was happening in the I.A.  Sullivan worked 7 months the year he retired for a million dollar payday.  The I.A. has to be turned upside down.  Nigro signed those checks.  Nigro should resign.  Now.





Cod Fish and the Convention


The SMWIA General President comes from Massachusetts, where long ago, the newly rich were known as the cod fish rich.  In his case, our newly rich GP did not and does not make his money in the cod fish trade; he made and makes his money in the union sheet metal construction industry.  Joe is and always will be a sheet metal worker, a tradesman, who has been gifted by union politicians with an embarrassingly unjustified salary of almost half million dollars a year.  Joe earns multiples of the average wages of the average sheet metal worker.  Additionally, at retirement, Joe will leave with a basket-full of hefty pensions.  It is also an I.A. tradition that those pensions will be on top of a cash-out bonus; the same as was permitted his predecessors.

In case you were wondering, the answer is NO!  Joseph Nigro does not sit atop a criminal enterprise.  Everything with Joe and the I.A. is by the book.  Everything is done according to Hoyle – legit.  The rules of the I.A. are closely written and closely observed.  They are well lawyered at the I.A.  Every move and everyone is covered by a rule and every rule has its roots in the I.A. Constitution and Ritual.  And every five years the I.A. Constitution is remodeled, as needed.  Nothing is left to chance.  Any act or failure to act, by I.A. general officers or their all appointed staff can be legitimized.  Virtually any deed you can imagine or which they can conceive will be blessed as legit, by an existing rule or Nigro’s constitutional authority to broadly interpret any rule.  They are truly law abiding at the I.A.

Two recent events and rules illustrate the I.A. ability to cloak all they do in a robe of legitimacy.  The first is the takeover of 500 Greenwich Street.  Nigro needed a legal ruse and rule to justify the pending 28 trusteeship.  Nigro was pissed at Kevin Connors.  But there is no rule that prohibits Kevin pissing off Joe Nigro.  Nigro simply made up a new rule.  In his letter announcing the Local 28 Trusteeship, General President Nigro pronounced, as if he were Moses on the Mount, that “SOME LOCAL 28 OFFICERS HAVE NOT PERFORMED AT THE LEVEL DEMANDED IN OUR CONSTITUTION” Joe Nigro – Nov. 13, 2013.

Joe, DiOrio and Norberg would die of old age before finding any such rule in the SMWIA Constitution.  The Nigro rule on “performance” does not exist.  Nigro simply made up a subjective “performance” rule as legal cover for his trusteeship of Local 28.  Ironically, if such a rule did exist as an objective standard, Nigro himself would have to be removed from office for presiding over the loss of more than 15,000 union members and a loss of $130 million in dues and assessments revenue during his tenure.

The second event and rule that disguised the 28 trusteeship as being perfectly legal, was the misbegotten blessing conferred on Nigro’s trusteeship by the I.A. general executive council members Word, Whateley, and Zimmermann who pathetically ratified Joe Nigro’s decision after blankly staring into the eyes of more than four hundred angry Local 28 sheet metal workers, all of whom were dead set against ratification of the trusteeship.

In sum, under current I.A. rules, a General President can do anything to any local or any member, however wrong, and bless it under the rule of I.A. law – and get away with it.  The corrupt trusteeship of Local 28 was a legal cakewalk for Joe Nigro.  And the only thing that could stop Joe (or someone worse) would be the same thing that empowered him; a constitution with safeguards against the next Joe Nigro.

Ventlines’ focus on I.A. rules is timely because in the very near future – new rules will be coming out of the upcoming SMART General Convention.  Local 28 should have representation at this convention.  But our voice and presence there may be frustrated by the Nigro trusteeship.  As the clock ticks toward August, there will be more convention blogs to remind all concerned of our right to representation that must not be denied or abridged.  The blogs that follow will discuss the traditions of a SMWIA General Convention so that members understand and appreciate the importance of the convention in trying to rejuvenate accountability and democracy.


Coming Soon – The Convention

No one seems to know the definitive rights of Local 28 and its members during the trusteeship.  Are we to be denied the right to even attend and participate in the General Convention because Kevin annoyed an anointed General President?  Can Joe keep 28 away from the convention?  What’s coming out of the convention?  What should come out of that convention?  Ventlines is going to open a discussion on the convention.  Do the members have to legally force their voice into that convention?  Please come back and participate.


Shoot the Messenger *

* Tinknockers is an anonymous, (not really) Ventlines’ commenter.  The second of his two comments suggested we close down Ventlines, as did Bob DiOrio, in his recent Local 28 Newsletter.   Hmmm?  His first comment suggested we read the I.A. Constitution to find out why we are in trusteeship.   Hmmm?  This is a belated Ventlines response to that kind of thinking.


Dear Tinknockers:  Congratulations, you are the first to publicly come out in Ventlines.  Your courage and namelessness notwithstanding, it is nice to know Ventlines has some coy opposition.  You are not a surprise, you were expected.  But being the first of your persuasion to speak out (sort of), you have earned this recognition because your appearance helps make public several hard truths about this trusteeship.

First:  Thanks to you, members know there are members and outsiders lurking in the shadows, who support this trusteeship.  That’s also not a surprise, but it is nice to know upfront, what’s up.  The members now know that not everyone is offended by the I.A.’s actions.  Some, hopefully a minority, do not see the I.A.’s overreaching conduct towards Local 28 as an offense against democratic unionism.   Others, hopefully a majority, are convinced otherwise.

Second:  Ventlines’ reason for existence is to give voice.  You and yours also have a voice.  Even though it may be a distasteful voice to some, your voice has a place here.  Use it, as will those in opposition.   Speak up!  Speak out!

Third:  Ventlines is working; it has value.  You are proof.  Some, (like yourself) view Ventlines as an annoyance or even the enemy.  Individuals like yourself have even gone so far as to blackmail or threaten 28 members and groups for even mildly associating with Ventlines.  Which tends to prove that individuals such as yourself, with thin skin or skin in the game who are angered by Ventlines, also tend to misdirect their anger and efforts.  The thin skinned tend to confuse the message with the messenger.  You are wrong to try to quiet Ventlines, the messenger.  You should instead, try changing its message.

Finally:  You should know that Ventlines will gladly leave you to 28, if and when the time comes that Ventlines is of no use or value to this membership.  But in the meantime the numbers are saying something different.  According to Google Analytics, Ventlines in two months of existence will be on track to record 10,000 online visits, 2500 visitors (members) and 20,000 page views.  There is a message in those numbers to both you and Nigro – Ventlines is growing.  And not just within Local 28.  Increasingly, the I.A.’s conduct here is being viewed by an ever larger audience throughout the I.A.

Use those numbers, don’t shoot the messenger.  Persuade this membership as to why this trusteeship is just and Ventlines is wrong.  You have a voice here and you may remain an anonymous voice.  Use it!  But puhhleeeeeez, no more bull shit directives.  Ventlines is not closing down.

In the meantime, Ventlines says, “Up yours.”, to the cowards who cancelled our union meetings.



KEVIN & JIMMY on the Guest Page

We interrupt regular programming to inform readers that Local 28 Business Manager, Kevin Connors and Local 28 Financial Secretary, Jimmy Cuiffo have just posted a joint letter to the membership on the Guest Opinions page.  Access Guest Opinions by clicking on its blue button on the top of this page or any Ventlines page.



Reportedly, at SMWIA headquarters, a US Department of Labor (DOL) investigation is underway into at least one trust fund subject to the administration of General President, Joseph Nigro.  The ongoing investigation is in response to allegations of questionable practices in an unspecified I.A. trust fund over a period of time that includes the administrations of both Joseph Nigro and Michael Sullivan.  The trust fund, its administrators, and trustees are now subject to DOL queries as to improper expenditures on personal gifts, unauthorized expenditures, and wasteful expenditures and practices.  At present, the names of the perpetrators/trustees are not known.  The cost of these allegations, if true, could reach multi-millions in expenditures.  Hmmmm?

Say it ain’t so, Joe!  Tell us you were not so brazenly indifferent to wrongdoings and financial malpractice in your own space as to become, church mouse quiet, amid your own mess, while during the same time period you hypocritically and falsely accused Local 28 officials of criminal double dipping and financial malpractice.  Please, say it ain’t so!  Tell us you will get to the bottom of these allegations of wrongdoing in your own backyard.  Please tell us the names of the trustees responsible for these alleged misdeeds?  Please tell us the name of the fund.  Tell us, what were the misdeeds?  Please tell us your remedies!  Trustee Removal?  Trustee Promotion?  Say something!  Clear the air.  Or do we wait until the membership reads about it in a newspaper expose?


Enough Already*

* This blog should be read alongside the 1/25/14 blog NPF Comfort Notice which also discusses the NPF.


As defined under the terms of the U.S. government Pension Protection Act (PPA), the SMWIA National Pension Fund (NPF) is in Critical Status (Red Zone).  That grim news affects all I.A. locals as well as Local 28 members, whether retired or active.  To make matters even worse, the Local 28 Pension Plan is now in Endangered Status, (Yellow Zone) which is one grade better than the NPF’s Red Zone.  To make matters even worse, thanks to the 28 Trusteeship, the likes of DiOrio and Nigro, are now major factors in the management of all three Local 28 retirement plans.  Which should not give anyone a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Local 28 members are now contributing $16.58 per hr to pension funds plus $6.37 per hr to the Annuity Fund.  A total of $22.95 per hr is going into three Local 28 retirement funds; which for a fully employed journeyman, equals a $35,000.00+- annual contribution into three different retirement accounts.  Two of these pension funds are troubled, one being gravely underfunded.  Which begets the question: When is it best to say, “… enough already“?

Fortunately, with new federal laws on the books concerned with the financial well being of pension plans, there is ample information available to help Local 28 MEMBERS intelligently answer that question.  The law requires pension plan participants to be updated every year as to the financial performance and long term viability of their pension plan.  The new laws are beneficial.  If these laws had been on the books since the inception of the NPF, that fund probably would not have been as badly mismanaged as its history now tells us.

Under the new laws there are a lot of financial and actuarial data made available.   The annual reports are formulated by highly specialized professional actuaries.  The annual actuarial report must do a good job at explaining the yearly performance of a pension plan to be genuinely informative to the membership.  But even if it does, there is still a lot of technical information in those reports for sheet metal workers (and trustees) to fully digest and understand, especially as they relate to the implications of long term trends.  The membership would benefit from some help here.

What to do?

Get even more information!  Given the high stakes (a secure retirement) and the huge amount of  money involved (approximately $50+- million yearly) never again should more than three years go by in Local 28, (or any I.A. Local) where there is not at least one Special Informational Meeting, concerned solely with the financial condition of the local’s retirement funds.  Salesman or cheerleaders from the I.A. should not be permitted at this meeting.  The guest of honor/main speaker should be one or more cold-blooded independent actuaries, presently unaffiliated with the local pension funds.  These actuaries should be tasked beforehand with informing the local members/participants as to exactly which of the local’s three retirement funds is in such safe or improving financial condition as to be the most deserving or least deserving place to safely contribute future retirement dollars.  Get a grip on the future – don’t let anyone take it from you.

Think about it!


Hail Caesar

Caesar famously signaled a thumbs up or a thumbs down to determine the fate of coliseum gladiators.  At Ventlines, every reader (like Caesar) now has a live and anonymous, thumbs up or thumbs down, function at their fingertips.   Use it to help determine the fate of a blog, a member’s comment or Ventlines itself.   One of the problems with the I.A. Journal is that it relentlessly speaks AT you.  Not with you.  With the I.A. there is no conversation with the membership.  They talk, you listen.  Ventlines wants to change that format.  Here a member (after registration) can comment and criticize.  Here a member (with NO registration) can now anonymously express an opinion on any blog or member Comment.  Please use this feature.  Someday you may see it in an Online version of the SMART Journal.

Whether you agree or disagree with a blog, speak up, speak out  –  Click on a Thumbs up or Thumbs down.  Same with a member’s Comment.  Democracy is not a spectator sport.  Engage.  It will cost you nothing and earn you the respect and gratitude of your Brothers and Sisters.  Let the world know what’s on you mind – what Local 28 is thinking.  And if you don’t mind, please take the time to go back and evaluate earlier posts and Comments.  We know the membership is reading Ventlines, we just don’t know what you are thinking.

There is also a new feature where a registered Commenter may enable Ventlines to notify you if there is a follow up comment to your comment.  You may now also be notified when there is a new post at Ventlines.  Look for those functions at the bottom of the Comment Section to any blog.   Remember at Ventlines,  sign in once and stay signed in.  Ventlines will also be keeping an eye out for technical problems with these new features.   Stay tuned.  Thanks.