Archive for January, 2015

GROUNDHOG DAY

Local 28 history is  repeating itself.  History is once again telling us past responses to nonunion competition have been insufficient.  The evidence for that claim is too loud to ignore and it is twofold:  First is the seemingly permanent and growing unemployment numbers (500+-). We now have more members collecting unemployment checks than most local unions have members.

Second, Local 28’s Sheet Metal Industry Labor Management Committee recently announced that it believes the metro NY nonunion sheet metal industry is not just growing but eclipsing Local 28.  According to that report we are to the point where Local 28’s nonunion and rogue union competition now have bona fide, state recognized apprentice programs, large well-equipped shops and 70% control of the entire Metro NY sheet metal industry.  If that report is credible, it easily explains our high unemployment.  Furthermore if that report is true, Local 28 and our nonunion competition may both be at a turning point in history.

Our jobless numbers plus the 70% nonunion market share announcement, if even half-true and taken in the proper light, might just be enough to provoke a change in membership attitudes and change Local 28 history.  With new attitudes, the question  becomes:  Will Local 28 continue with its habit of irregular attention to nonunion competition?  Or do we laser focus on reality and the future?  Will the membership at last put its leadership on a permanent war footing against nonunion competition?

Even if the Labor Management Committee is dead wrong in its message and Local 28 still maintains 60%, 70%, 80% market share, even If we do not stand at the eleventh hour in our history, it would still be heartless for a so called brotherhood to ignore the pain now facing our 500+- unemployed members and their families.

While Ventlines does not fully credit the 30% union market share claim of the NY Industry Committee, every idea meant to obtain jobs for our unemployed members deserves membership consideration.  Stand-alone ideas or ideas in combination should be considered and then reconsidered.  Everything should be on the table.  Consider for example each of the following suggested sample strategies.  (Some suggested by contractors – others are longstanding.)  But understand, the following list is a just a conversation starter.  Additional strategies and out of the box membership ideas are absolutely required.

  1. Clearly identify and define Target sheet metal markets vulnerable to loss or now lost to nonunion competition. (This will take balls on the part of the membership and leadership.) Target those markets.  Wage all-out economic war in clearly and permanently identified Target Rate Markets.  Clearly define and identify in writing, Target Markets by boundaries such as tonnage, dollar value, geography, public money, developer, residential, municipality, light commercial, etc., etc.
  2. Conduct membership votes to acknowledge, identify and establish Target Markets.
  3. Enable and incentivize our contractors to bid and win Target jobs. Do what it takes to win bids.
  4. Flood Target Rate markets with Target bids and Target contractors.
  5. Incentivize the membership. Give unemployed members (almost) exclusive access to Target jobs.
  6. Establish Target Installation Only Shops w/limit of two key men (plus draftsmen) per contractor. Limit of one key man per Installation jobsite. All additional manpower must come from the hall.
  7. Organize, establish and utilize Target Fabrication Only Shops with competitive and incentivized terms and conditions to supply duct to Target Installation Only shops.
  8. Close the books on new members.
  9. Resurrect the Out of Town Addendum.
  10. Resurrect an American Hardware style shop that sold yellow label prefab duct, elbows, doors, etc. to all shops.
  11. Mandatory hiring from the VRH on all Target subsidized jobs. Second thru fifth jobsite mechanics must come from the VRH.
  12. Leverage the financial assets of the entire union movement.  a.) With the NYC Building Trades Council establish a data base of banks and financial lenders behind nonunion construction in 28’s jurisdiction.  b.) Title search all non union projects to determine the banks, insurance companies, financial institutions with mortgage liens on such jobs.  c.) Deny such institutions the use of ALL union financial assets such as pension investments, banking relationships, etc.  d.)  Use the same format to expand similar efforts statewide, then nationwide.  e.)  Establish a Davis-Bacon-like guideline for bankers where they must agree NOT to use union financial assets to undermine prevailing union wages, anywhere.
  13. Buyer Beware Picketing on all nonunion residential projects.  Buyer Beware Leaflet Picketing:  At nonunion sites distribute leaflets comparing high quality union-made projects vs. inferior nonunion construction quality.  Target potential buyers or renters.
  14. Do more picketing.  Financially compensate all authorized/permanent pickets.
  15. Etc., etc. Add your suggestion. Throw any of the above out.  We know the problem; we just don’t know the answers.
  16. Discuss and examine the concept of drafting/engineering only contractors.  Weigh the positives vs the negatives re: jobs and productivity.  Sell Local 28’s drafting/engineering/testing and balancing/service engineering expertise not only to the sheet metal industry but the construction industry at-large.  Why limit drafting/engineering expertise to ductwork?

Join the conversation here and elsewhere.  Add to the list.  Delete from the list, just don’t sit it out:  Lest like the movie Groundhog Day, Local 28 endlessly repeats its history – unable and unwilling to change.

 

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Shsssh! IT’S A SECRET.

Fair question – do Organizers organize?  Fair answer – we don’t know.

If Organizers are important to our future – why is the membership not kept informed of their work?  Why do Local 28 and the IA not have official policy and formats for updating the membership on vital organizational efforts?

The I.A. has been losing members for decades (mergers don’t count).  Local 28 has more than 500 members sitting on the court’s fictional jobs referral list.  It would seem that organizing the unorganized should be a top priority for both the I.A. and Local 28.  Is it?

Organizing the unorganized is considered the lifeblood of unions.  Organizing is how unions protect jobs, jurisdiction, pensions and union contractors from unscrupulous nonunion competition.  Union jobs for union members require union contractors.

As Joe Nigro would say, “Where is the transparency?”  It is not technically difficult to post organizing numbers on the I.A’s. website or in their Journal or Local 28’s website or newsletter.  Give us more facts, less prose.  Failure to do so is inexcusable in this day and age.  Published organizing data and membership counts on a quarterly calendar basis would give us an honest self-image – warts and all.

Do you want to know if your local has a pulse, that it is in the game fighting?  Do you want to know if the I.A. is on the way out or on the way up?  Watch the numbers on organizing.

What to do?

Name and list organizing campaigns.  Name and list all non union shops.  Name newly organized shops.  How many organized members came with the shops?  Name successful Organizers.  What type of work?  Did we fail?  Why?  Give us cumulative numbers –quarterly, annually and year over year cumulative numbers.   Can we do better?  Do we need changes?  Do we have star quality Organizers with great skills and teachable techniques?  Or do we need new organizing talent?

Court ordered membership growth will not grow Local 28 jobs organically or I.A. jobs nationally.  Witless court ordered headcount growth has put 500 hurting members on a dishonest and practically jobless – jobs list.  I.A. headcount growth through mergers (UTU) will not bring jobs to I.A. sheet metal workers.  We must grow jobs, not headcount.

If we end our non-disclosure policy, would we be proud of the numbers or would we be frightened?  Shsssh!  – IT’S A SECRET– is not a winning organizing policy.  It is a way to hide failure.  We can do better.  Get the numbers, then give us the numbers.

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GREENWICH STREET TRAINING CENTER

There are two parts to the 500 Greenwich Street office complex.  The original condo purchase was meant to house permanent and convenient headquarters’ space for Local 28.  The space originally housed all the N.Y.C. area Business Agents and Executive Board meetings and all the trappings that go with the finances and record keeping necessities of Local 28.  There is still ample room for all those functions in unit 501.

The second condo (unit 502) was purchased as an investment in the future of Local 28.  It was built out as commercial office space by Local 28 volunteers.  Income from five rental offices in unit 502 helped pay off Local 28’s first ever mortgage within 10 years of the purchase date.  Unit 502 was also envisioned as an investment in the future of Local 28.  The space gave our membership options in the event Local 28 needed room to grow and protect Local 28’s jurisdiction.

Unit 502 is no longer used for income purposes.  There is only one rented office in unit 502.  Local 28 is therefore losing valuable rental income.  The balance of the space in unit 502 appears to be unused or simply accommodating miscellaneous tasks of the court or housing random I.A. officials as part of the odious I.A. trusteeship.  Unit 502 can be put to much higher use and should not be allowed to sit fallow.  Below are several suggested options for the members of Local 28.  There are more.  Use your imagination.

Unit 502 can very easily accommodate a convenient daytime and evening Local 28 Technology Training Center.  There is more than enough room in unit 502 to house one or more hi-tech classrooms in beginning and advanced testing and balancing skills.  There is more than enough room to house and equip these same classrooms with the most advanced technology to train both apprentices and mechanics in beginning and advanced drafting techniques.  State of the art training in ac/heating and service engineering skills can also be taught in the same classrooms.  These convenient facilities can be used day and night for any high tech training purpose by our members.  The way to stay ahead of Local 28’s union and nonunion competition is simple – stay ahead – especially in technology.

Part of unit 502 can also serve as an adjunct office for Local 28’s Funds and Plans to be used for face to face service and contact with our N.Y.C./NJ resident members.

Unit 502 can also be reconverted to its original purpose – Income.  It can easily be leased out in whole or in part for very significant income.  Use of that space to accommodate hanger on I.A. Representatives while they muck up Local 28 politics and our future is the lowest possible use of that space.

Have a suggestion?  Engage!

 

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THE SMART MERGE?

The following data is from the I.A.’s annual LM-2 report to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  *2013 is the year of the merge with UTU

In 2013 SMART membership increased 68,500 +-.  (34%+-)  Because SMWIA had been losing membership since 2000, most likely these new SMART members were UTU members.  There was no explanation in the LM-2.  Which means that with a 35% increase in membership SMART had a 100%+- increase in payroll and a 100% +- increase in officer compensation.

The international and three other unions participating in United Unions, Inc. (1750 New York Avenue, Washington D.C.) have jointly guaranteed a bank loan obtained by United Unions, Inc. in 2003 to refinance the debt on its building. Additional bank loans were obtained in 2006 and 2008. At December 31, 2013, the total outstanding principle balance of these loans was $22,301,537. On September 4, 2013, SMART entered into an Irrevocable Letter of Credit for $750,000 in response to the supersedes bond benefiting Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local Union 137.

There is a lot of information in the LM-2 about your I.A.  Dig in.  Enter File # 000-073 on the top of the query page at this link.

http://kcerds.dol-esa.gov/query

 

FiscalYear TotalAssets TotalLiabilities TotalReceipts TotalDisbursements TotalMembers
2013 Report $137,085,819 $106,575,408 $132,343,447 $125,764,584 202,960
2012 Report $89,879,913 $78,359,470 $50,081,439 $49,050,913 134,335
2011 Report $87,704,815 $60,098,317 $77,620,368 $76,717,749 135,943
2010 Report $82,825,580 $55,239,303 $72,536,284 $74,751,276 139,390
2009 Report $80,084,106 $68,347,732 $74,666,044 $76,653,136 144,826
2008 Report $75,245,478 $35,653,723 $59,403,272 $57,718,722 152,530
2007 Report $83,240,050 $27,154,320 $109,006,573 $107,571,906 150,740
2006 Report $75,782,879 $32,796,309 $94,622,615 $91,434,478 149,149
2005 Report $68,880,723 $27,342,219 $108,069,748 $106,995,199 148,806
2004 Report $75,614,199 $26,538,877 $187,852,415 $188,374,963 144,480
2003 Report $77,870,257 $22,556,925 $112,199,986 $111,432,310 140,641
2002 Report $68,976,819 $7,152,934 $151,057,137 $151,109,391 148,378
2001 Report $70,091,389 $4,658,742 $41,454,259 $41,449,571 151,257
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KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED

Thanks to the extraordinary and very highly compensated I.A. leadership in the likes of Joe Nigro ($460,395.00) and Bob DiOrio, ($195,857.00) Ventlines can announce more good news concerning the financial health of the NPF.  According to the latest (2013) NPF Actuarial Report, the NPF has amassed the veritable fortune of approximately $28,000.00 +- in pension assets for each of the 135,000+- NPF participants – including retirees.

$28,000.00 is almost enough for one plus years of pension payments to a future Local 28 retiree.  High Fives all around for the boys  in D.C.

While $28,000.00 may not sound like a lot of retirement security in 2014 for a rank and file NY sheet metal worker after 20 to 30 years of nut busting construction sheet metal work, it does compare very favorably with I.A. accomplishments in 2006 when the D.C. boys amassed the not so awesome sum of $23,000.00+-.  The trend is your friend.  We can also take added comfort in knowing that the D.C. boys responsible for those feats were all recently elected unopposed and we will have Nigro and DiOrio in critical I.A. leadership roles for five more awesome years.

Further, in keeping with the I.A.’s grand tradition of putting the leadership first it is very understandable that in 2006 the Nigro/DiOrio I.A. pension plans were funded at $230,00.00 per participant – ten times the  $23,000.00 per capita rate of the rank and file NPF pensions for the same year.

So let’s all keep an eye out for more I.A. transparency.  Any day now we will be getting a Nigro letter in the mail announcing the latest data on the funding status of the pension plan for the I.A.’s leadership.   😉

In the meantime let’s keep our fingers crossed lest our NPF pensions go the way of the NPF’s COLA.

Use the link below to go to the NPF Actuarial Valuation on the NPF website.

http://www.smwnpf.org/downloads/financial-documents/Sheet_Metal_Workers_National_Pension_Fund_-_January_1_2014_Actuarial_Valuation_FINAL.pdf

 

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