Archive for February, 2015


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Bill Thompson

Here is more of what nobody wants to hear.
The 11th hour and 55th minute!

There is a mass extinction event in progress and it effects local 28 and the rest of the building trades. Nonunion and rogue unions are running us over as we speak. We sit here as if the world does not change. People retired for 20 years talk as if they have a clue what is going on, they don’t, and many comments are nothing short of being irresponsible. This did not just happen, for those that have been around long enough and remember Artie Moore delivering multiple eight dollar contracts, Then standing at the dais warning us the time is close that we will have to lower our rate and wage for shop and Alteration work. Then came Joe Casey, John Harrington, Michael Belluzzi contract after contract wages going up benefits increasing and warning us of the same thing but nothing ever happened. None of the politicians mentioned above had the political balls to implement what needed to happen. Well guess what, the time is at hand we are presently at the bottom of the bell curve, a place we should never have gotten too.

Here are some of the facts almost 100% of the residential market is being done by rogue or nonunion. Apartment buildings, condos, co-ops residential work virtually nonexistent in local 28’s jurisdiction. Then there is the alteration side of the business historically a mainstay a staple, providing up to 50% of the work hours during busy times and 70% of the work hours during droughts. The alteration end of the business is drying up what was once solidly local 28 jurisdiction is being done by rogue and non-union contractors. GC’s and project managers that would never allow rogue or nonunion contractors on their jobs now do so willingly. Mechanical contractors that wouldn’t dare hire a rogue or nonunion now under cut each other on a regular basis. Dependently union Mechanicals like PJ, React, Penguin, Sound, JDP plus countless more are all involved at this point. Many no longer entertain local 28 shop bids . As local 28 stands still stuck in a 40 year time warp the rest of the industry moves on and evolves, we are dinosaurs without a plan. For some reason local 28’s membership is content to bury their head in the sand and not confront the uncomfortable truth.

The next president of this local needs to have a plan and it must involve many things on many fronts. Below are some things that have to be addressed If we are to counter the inevitable extinction event.

If we are to regain any portion of the residential market we will have to do so by being competitive with the rogue and nonunion elements. local 28 will have to organize and nurture a division that will compete with the present competition. We will need to organize contractors that do all aspects of the installation in the residential market, this would include. Sheet metal, piping, commissioning, and maintenance. The rates and benefits would need to be competitive. We either do this or continue to have NO!! men working in that market.

Alteration work will also need a subdivision if we are to halt the alarming decline in work and stem the present Cycle. Shop work needs to be separated from the whole package. The fabrication of ductwork will need to become a production facility. Contractors should be able to buy their tin from local 28 production shops as we do with specialty items presently.
As a person that worked 30+ years predominantly in the alteration market and was involved in the bidding process in the office I have seen a constant decline over the past 20 years. At one point the alteration market was working at a 15% to 20% plus profit margin. Over the years that margin went down to 13% 12% 10% 8% 5% 3%. This has everything to do with the present bankruptcies in the alteration market and the lack of contractors willing to fill that void. At this point a sheet metal only business is doomed to fail, the only contractors that can make money are the combination mechanical / sheet metal contractors in this particular market. Again wages and benefits will need to be adjusted.

The developers for years have been complaining about the wage rate of the building trades A market/ new construction and have been asking for a 20% across-the-board cut in wages and benefits. These are things that no politician wants to implement for fear of the memberships backlash come election day. The time is at hand the consequences will be severe. Keep in mind the rogue and nonunion contractors get stronger every year while local 28 contractors are not able to put money back into their businesses to remain competitive.

There needs to be a mass organizing effort, local 28 needs a minimum of five full time organizers. Organizes must be educated in best practices attend seminars and work with other building trades to accomplish mutual Goals.

The president, business agents and organizes will need to work as a cohesive unit. The new president must act as a leader and rise above petit internal vengeance. The president and business agents must attend every building trades meeting and event have a relationship with other business agents and business managers. The business manager and business agents will also need to have a working relationship with our bosses, they may be scumbags but at least they’re signed with us, they are our scumbags.

The next president will need to be able to Control and conduct a Union meeting in a manner that doesn’t resemble the un-caging of zoo animals. Meetings must be conducted using tried and true methods particularly Roberts rules of parliamentary procedure. This could be looked up online by any member and is a must for any organized meeting. Maximum mic time should be limited to three minutes any member not in compliance will be removed from the mic by the warden. The president is the moderator of the discussion if a member is discussing something off topic he is to be removed from the mic . Point of information are just that, it does not give the member the right to walk to the front of the line and ramble incessantly. Anyone resisting the demands of the warden and the president will be removed from the meeting. Members talking in the background will be asked to leave the meeting. If necessary the conductor and the executive board can assist in maintaining order at a local union meeting.

Local 28’s next president needs to have a plan the same old way of doing business is costing Local 28 membership and man-hours. Anyone accepting the nomination for president needs to have a plan and be ready to address the myriad of problems facing local 28.
Keep in mind the IA will be watching and any misstep will result in at best Another trusteeship or the possible revoking of local 28s charter.

Respectfully Bill Thompson


Brian Duffy

Where do I begin? In an effort to educate the membership on the state of the Union construction industry I asked for and received permission to create a brochure to alert my fellow Local 28 members to the alarming growth of the non- union sector. I knew I would have naysayers and others who do not want to hear the bad news. I dislike it and worry about it as much as you do. But the tsunami of non-union washing over our jurisdiction is real; the very large non-union projects cited in my brochure are fact, and the disarray in Local 28 caused by mudslinging politics at every level is not helping anything.
I’ll start by saying that I am not plotting the overthrow of Local 28 nor am I creating a “Chicken Little” atmosphere. In my position as the director of the Joint Labor Management Committee and administrator of the Target and Equality Fund I am in the unique position of being able to have a firm grasp on the reality of our sheet metal industry. I see what is happening across the entire jurisdiction and every day I chase down hours for Local 28 using the tools I am provided. Since my estimate of 35% has been called into question I will provide you with the research that number is based on.

1. The Construction Labor Research Council, using data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Sheet Metal International Training Institute, and the Sheet Metal Workers National Pension Fund, compared the number of union workers to total employment for the industry in Local 28’s jurisdiction. Between 2006 and 2013 that number has hovered between 29% and 35%.
2. In New York City, based on building permits for buildings 10 stories and higher, the Union market share (Union general contractors) has gone from 65% in 2004 to 47% in 2010. In other words, we lost 25% of that market share in those 6 years. I haven’t researched those statistics since 2010 so I can’t tell you how much more that number has deteriorated since then but I don’t imagine the percentage has gone up. And considering that building 10 stories and lower are even more likely to be non-union, I can only guess what those percentages are.
3. Construction spending topped $32 billion for the first time in 2014, Local 28 unemployment is around 25%.
4. The five busiest non-union general contractors for buildings 10 stories and above – Cava, Flintlock, New Line, Hudson Meridian, and Ryder – had permits in 2013 to build 2,447,714 square feet and from January 2014 through June 2014 had an additional 1.75 million square feet worth of permits. These five alone accounted for 20% of the new permits in 2013. There are plenty more where they came from. JDS at 111 E 57th St. comes to mind.

If you don’t believe any of these facts, then just take a walk down the street in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens and check the permits anywhere you find a crane. It used to be we would see a crane go up and wonder which 28 contractor had the job. Now we wonder if the job is even Union.
Naysayer math would have you believe there are 6,000 non-union sheet metal workers in our area or 2 times the working membership. Well, let’s correct that. We have approximately 2,700 active journeypersons and apprentices and 700 of them are unemployed. So, at best, there are 4,000 non-union sheet metal workers in our area. Well, not so fast. A non-union sheet metal contractor doesn’t use skilled labor for things such as deliveries, sealing duct, etc., so even that number is significantly reduced. Hmmmm?
Naysayer counter arguments would have you believe there are a handful of non-union shops within our jurisdiction. I checked the blue book for just New York and found AAA, A&L Sheet Metal, A-Plus, Abalon, Aberdeen, Active Air, Airrefco Corp., AlbanoAll Star, Alnik, Amrus…. That’s just the A’s and that’s just New York.
Naysayer counter arguments would have you believe there are too many apprentices being jammed into the system because of the court case. Fact is we are over 100 apprentices shy of being able to provide a 3:1 mechanic/apprentice ratio for all of the shops.
You want a list of non-union jobs? Go back to the brochure I created and look at the examples I provided. It’s worse outside of Manhattan.
Look at the list on the Local 28 website and see the nearly 1,000 successfully targeted jobs in 2014 alone. Without Target they’d be non-union.

The irony in all of this? There are enough big contracts getting ready to start that a significant portion of our unemployed members will go back to work. Excellent news. Then the naysayers will exclaim, “I told you so!” and the new Business Manager will pound his chest and say, “look what I did!” But the truth is the non-union will grow even more during boom times and with their new experience will grow stronger.

I take offense to the “Chicken Little” article because I personally told the author that the estimates were mine and mine alone and that I asked for and received permission to inform the membership – which I did. Now it looks like I’m being accused of being part of some IA plot. Let me explain, I’m not a DiOrio “disciple”, I’m not an IA guy, I’m not a Belluzzi guy, I’m not a Connors guy. I am a proud Local 28 guy trying to keep the membership informed. I have no political aspirations and I am not running for any office. I took this job because I wanted to help and make a difference.
Don’t believe my estimate? Fine, knock yourself out, but don’t deny that non-union today is a significant threat to our livelihood. I see it happening every day.
I have to hurry up and finish this because I’m heading to a rally against a non-union developer who is building a 1,400’ plus tower on 57th Street in Manhattan. That’s taller than 432 Park and taller than the roof of the new Trade Center. But don’t worry, the truth will set you free.

Brian Duffy IA#787539



Local 28 is suffering from The Sky is Falling virus.  Those with the malady believe 600 of our members just lost their jobs directly to 600 nonunion sheet metal workers.  Those with the virus believe 600 jobs were lost because Local 28 controls only 33% of its jurisdiction.  ‘It is official,’ they say, ‘ Bob DiOrio told them so.’  And Bob DiOrio got it straight from Joe Nigro.  The industry fund also told them – therefore its gospel.  The Sky is Falling symptoms include thinking in circles and casting senseless blame on union contractors and select union officials – but not the I.A..

The cure for the Sky is Falling virus is knowledge:  Understanding that the 33% number is nonsense – understanding that even at this very low point in Local 28  history, union contractors control a minimum of 70 to 75%+- of all sheet metal jobs within our jurisdiction.  In the single Democrat controlled municipality of NYC that percentage is probably higher.  On L.I., with its dozens upon dozens of smaller Republican controlled municipalities, it is probably lower.  Knowledge, the cure, also includes the painful truth that Local 28 and its union contractors once controlled up to 95% of its NYC jurisdiction.

Chicken Little math asks that you believe the 33% number is gospel, which means we are being asked to believe in miracles – such as the almost biblical story that 6,000 nonunion sheet metal workers just completed (among other projects) the equivalent of two additional nonunion World Trade Center projects alongside 3000* Local 28 members.  Hmmm?

Chicken Little math asks that you believe there are 9,000 sheet metal workers working in Local 28’s jurisdiction.  Hmmm?

A sensible counter point to the 33% claim of DiOrio and his disciples is that there are not 9,000 full-time sheet metal workers, in total, throughout the combined tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  This counter argument also states there are but a handful of large to medium sized nonunion sheet metal shops within our jurisdiction which probably employ less than 300 full time sheet metal workers.

Sensible counter arguments say that NYC office construction (our bread and butter) has just peaked and is now in a typical decline.  A sensible argument against the validity of the 33% number is that the court case may be jamming too many members into a workforce increasingly diminished by technology.  Finally there is always the simple acknowledgment that DiOrio’s 8 hour day and new B card members are in fact, responsible for most of those 600 lost jobs.

Is it too much to ask DiOrio to supply the membership with a one page nonunion shop list to check on the scholarship behind his 33% market share claim? 

Is it too much work for Bob DiOrio to substantiate the 33% claim with a one page nonunion jobs list indicating the job size, manpower, location, $ value, duration? 

Is it too much to ask DiOrio to prove there are 9000 sheet metal workers in 28’s area?

The truth will set you free – of Chicken Littles and DiOrio.


* Estimate -mechanics and apprentices



They arrived in 2010.  And since that day, the I.A. has ruled Local 28 by decree.  They have answered to absolutely no one.

I.A. accomplishment thus far?:  Illegal or immoral scam of Local 28 P.A.L. money.  Bungled exoneration of chargeable officials.  Informational meetings.  Libelous “double dipping” accusations against innocent 28 officials.  Unjust removal of Brothers Connors, Cuiffo and Lawlor.  Witless prosecutions of unemployed members who did not know it was mandatory to sign up for a Voluntary Hiring Hall.  Two unratified labor agreements. Blindsiding 600 out of work members – who now wonder – what happened?

In local 28’s history, we have had plenty of bad times.  In previous market downturns, 600 members out of work was not unusual.  Markets slowly came back, and somehow we always made it through to the other side.  Today, however, our 600 unemployed members are not just out of work. They have been put there and blindsided by DiOrio’s efforts in the name of market recovery.  They were unprepared and uninformed.  They feel used, confused, betrayed.  These 600 members rightly see their  future as bleak – damned if Local 28 does and damned if Local 28 doesn’t.  Something is different this time.  The membership has doubts about coming out the other side.

The antidote to doubt, of course, is information – answers to membership questions.  Unfortunately the I.A. answers to no one.  That’s simply how they do business.  Nonetheless, answers are out there – in the record.  Information was and is available to DiOrio and his disciples as well as our legitimate officials that would help explain what just happened to Local 28.  We need rational answers to the membership’s rational questions.

Are A members suffering from:  Displacement by B members?  The eight hour day?  Growth of nonunion?  Lack of Organizing?  Lack of leadership?  How bad will it get?  What of the future?  Will it turn around?  Do we have a future?  How many A members will have a future in Local 28?  How many B members?  How many members in the union by class?  A vs. B?  The unemployment rate for A members?  The unemployment rate for B members?  How goes market recovery?  Can we close new membership books?  Does DiOrio have a plan?  Does Nigro?  Does anyone?

So, what to do?  How does the I.A. best respond to the questions and problems on their doorstep?  How do the members respond?

The I.A. plan?  History tells us it will be painfully familiar plan:  Blame Local 28.  Admit no mistakes.  Mum’s the word.  Dump the mess into Local 28’s lap.  Let new local officials explain the mess.  Require local officials to explain why so many of our members are now hurting.  Impose another period of DiOrio progress and Supervision on Local 28.  Threaten disobedient or critical officials with removal from office.  Encourage patsy officials.  Blockade the truth with the threat of another Trusteeship.  Shade the truth.  Let time pass.  The I.A. needs time.  They need time for bitter memories to fade.  With time they will quietly go off to their Land of High Fives, a heavenly place in D.C., where all I.A. officials endlessly praise Joe Nigro and each other for  “heroic” deeds on behalf of an ever shrinking membership.  That’s their plan.

The Membership’s plan?  Demand answers.  To be aware: To regard any patsy candidates in the upcoming elections even remotely apologetic for I.A. incompetence and abuse of power – as true believers in more of the same.

Vote accordingly!