Archive for November, 2014

SECRET TRIALS and SECRET EVIDENCE

In the best of worlds – justice is blind.  In the worst of worlds – it is all seeing.

Recently, Local 28’s I.A. Trustees saw fit to bring their third set of new charges against Kevin Connors.  Hmmm?  Maybe I.A. justice is used to peeking?

That trial and the trials of three more Local 28 members were scheduled for November 17, 2014.  These November trials were brought on top of several September/October trials brought against four other 28 members.  The I.A. is also preparing even more trials against more Local 28 members.  The guilty are punished with monetary fines and massive inconvenience, all in addition, to denials of SUB and SASMI benefits.

As with all trials held pursuant to the SMART constitution, such trials are secret.  I.A, members are not allowed to observe the proceedings of International Trial Boards or Local Union Trial Boards.

All of these defendant members were charged with violating Article 17, Sections 1(c) (e) (m) of the SMART Constitution.  According to the new charges, these members failed to place their names on the court maintained referral hall list within 24 hours of their last recorded date of employment with a Local 28 contractor.  What was once normal and innocent conduct is now an offense against the I.A. constitution.

Local 28’s I.A. Trustees and the Court have determined that registration on the once voluntary referral hall list is now mandatory.  Failure to register per the newly enforced CBA requirements of Article V, Section 7(d) subjects a member to I.A. charges.

Members will be charged by the I.A. Trustees IF….

The member’s name appears on a so called new hire list which is prepared by a court approved functionary and – the member did not register because he or she went on vacation, or was ill, or hospitalized or did not want to work, or there was a death in the family, or went to school, or left town, or a child was ill, or worked in another profession or registered on the referral hall list more than 24 hours after a layoff or quitting, etc., etc.

A court approved functionary co-compliance administrator from Local 28 searches for all violators of Article V Section 7(d).  The functionary testifies before the trial board along with the I.A. Trustees against all the alleged violators. The search for a violation is supposedly triggered if and when a member’s name appears on a so called new hire list prepared by the functionaryIf a member’s name appears on the functionary’s list, the functionary obtains secret referral hall records to determine if that member had ever registered within 24 hours of his last recorded day of Local 28 employment.

If a member’s name is not on the secret list submitted by the referral hall to the functionary as evidence of having signed with the referral hall, the functionary will then testify with the I.A. against that member for failing to register.  The evidence used against the member is secret evidence.

Perversely, neither the I.A. nor Local 28’s trial board, nor the accused members are permitted to hear or see or cross examine the secret evidence submitted by the referral hall against the defendant member.  An accused member and the trial board members thus have no way to determine if the secret referral hall evidence is true, correct, valid and unbiased or if the member’s records were just plain lost.  Given the referral hall’s poor reputation for competence and transparency among the membership of Local 28, the procedures used in these trials are likely to handicap even a blindfolded justice.

Meaning that, guilty or not, all Local 28 members now charged by the I.A. or who will be charged in the future with violating Article V, Section 7(d) of the CBA will very likely be convicted of that offense based on – secret evidence in secret trials.  Welcome to the new and improved I.A. version of Local 28.  Ughhh!.

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OUT OF THE CLOSET

Local 28 members were recently mailed an unsigned glossy State of the Industry booklet authored by a Local 28/Contractor joint industry committee.  It is a very worthwhile document and effort.  Regrettably, the booklet was unsigned.

At a minimum the book should be especially interesting and relevant to the four hundred (+-) Local 28 members who presently find themselves on the infamous court ordered referral hall list.  The non-union sheet metal industry described in the booklet clearly represents enough jobs to place each and every member on that list into full time employment.

The contents and commentary in the book are sobering.  However, if the statistics and analysis the book presents reflect the true state of the unionized sheet metal industry, its contents should be nothing short of alarming and embarrassing to every member of this union, the Court, the I.A. and its 28 trustees and our official family.

Most people don’t like to look on the dark side.  With respect to our livelihood, we prefer to think and hope that our problems are manageable.  We prefer to think only about the bills that come across our own kitchen table.  As individuals we are in no way inclined to solve or dwell upon large and complex economic issues.  Local 28’s members are no different.

The contents of this booklet however, could force our members out of that comfort zone.  The large and complex issues discussed in this important booklet will not allow any thoughtful Local 28 member or official to honestly ignore its direct impact on our members and the bills that actually do cross their kitchen tables.

Our 28 members are a clever lot.  We like to think we know what’s up.  We are not naive.  We are worldly.  We are not pampered.  This means that every responsible, individual 28 member with a pulse, eyes and a brain knows in his heart of hearts that there is a non-union sheet metal worker out there, right now, doing our work.  That is a very painful truth, especially to our younger members and the unemployed.  This booklet tells us the problem has been getting worse.

There are rare members with steady employment who might not give the issue as much thought as the unemployed or the member who hustles every job he can get when he can get it.  Additionally and unfortunately, in our past we also had and we still have members and officials who are not quite comfortable admitting the depths of the non-union inroads on our livelihood.  Politically and practically none of us are inclined to brag about our failures or the success of non-union contractors in our areas.  Such has been our history and a way of life in this union.

This gloomy book has the potential to change the status quo.  Local 28’s non-union problem is now out of the closet.  It is in print for all to see.  It is out and proud and difficult to ignore.  That is good.  The book could help make things better for our industry, our contractors and all our members, especially the unemployed – not today but soon.

Provided we all fess-up and identify out loud and publicly the industries, the places, the work, the jurisdiction and man-hours we have lost over the years, the pain this book causes will have been worth it and only passing.  Provided we unashamedly recognize our shortcoming just as we do our points of pride we can turn this problem around – quickly.  Once we get going, once we specifically address each of our jurisdictional shortcomings or failures with a specific long term recovery strategy we are on our way.

The booklet was a great first step.

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FALSE GODS ON ELECTION DAY

In and out of Local 28, bad things happen when you are denied a democratic vote on political questions or have no right to elect your own officials.  Bad things also happen when we fail to vote.  And bad things are certain to follow when we vote wrongly.

The very first sign of a democracy gone bad is the emergence of a strong-arm leadership – with a god complex.

In the I.A and in Local 28….without one vote from the rank and file, after Joe Nigro was appointed General President by the G.E.C., after he was  appointed General Secretary Treasurer by the G.E.C., after he was appointed Assistant to the General President…our politics went bad.

Our democracy went bad, as obedience and police state control of all I.A. local unions and their officers became more important to Joe Nigro than Samuel Gompers’ command to “organize the unorganized”.

And we then lost 90,000 +- I.A. members – Nigro’s organizing miracle, even as the N.P.F. flat-lined, even as Local 28’s PAL money was skimmed off to the I.A.

And Joe Nigro then descended upon Local 28.  And…

god-like, Joe Nigro removed his elected opposition, Kevin Connors and Jimmy Cuiffo from office.  And…

god-like, Rob Soto was appointed  an I.A. replacement Financial Secretary Treasurer of Local 28.  And…

god-like, the unelected DiOrio removed the elected Brother Ray Lawlor from office and appointed his replacement.

The I.A. gods then imposed an eight hour day in Local 28 with B-card competition diluting A-card job opportunities – with still more changes to come.

And Brian McBrearty was then appointed Assistant Business Manager of Local 28, a job miraculously created  by the I.A.

Finally, Joe Nigro was elected at a convention – without opposition.   How god-like!

VOTE!

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ARTICLE TWELVE (12)

SECTION 1–NUMBER OF OFFICERS AND TITLES

 

SEC 1. The officers of each local union shall be a president, vice president, recording secretary, financial secretary-treasurer, conductor, warden, the members of the local union Executive Board and at least three (3) trustees. Except as provided in Section 3 of this Article, any offices and positions, the duties of which are not inconsistent, may be combined, or offices and positions previously combined may be separated by action of the local union at a special called meeting or as a special order of business at a regular meeting held not less than sixty (60) days prior to the next regular election.’

 

ARTICLE TWELVE (12)

SECTION 2–NUMBER OF BUSINESS MANAGERS AND BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVES

SEC. 2. Each local union shall have one (1) business manager and may have additional business representatives all of whom shall be elected by the local union at the same time and in the same manner and for the same term as local union officers, provided that if, during the regular term of office of local union officers, a local union shall approve the election of additional business representatives they shall be elected during such term to serve until the next regular election of officers, business manager and business representatives.

 

 

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