FOR PRESIDENT OF THE DISTRICT COUNCIL
BACKGROUND: I am a veteran of the United States Army; I was Honorably Discharged under Honorable Conditions in 1978 at the rank of E-5. I earned an Associate in Arts degree from Mt San Antonio College in June of 1983. I earned a Bachelor in Science degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in August of 1985. I have also held a NASD Series 6 securities license and an insurance license. I joined Local Union 257 in June of 1984. I am presently the Treasurer of Local Union 157. I have been a Certified Steward since the program was started in the 1990’s. My family has been involved in construction in NYC since the early 1900’s. I have five brothers and two nephews that are union carpenters.
FULL MOBILITY: We are fortunate to have some excellent signatory contractors here in NYC. We also have some of the toughest, but honest contractors. Regrettably we have had some of the most corrupt. Full mobility is bad because it will turn us into a company union, where the employers have total control of the workforce. Overtime, workers will have no allegiance to the union or their brothers and sisters. We have seen the effect that Mikes Forde’s full request system has had on our union. Participation at union meetings is at an all time low. Voting at local elections is dismal. Confidence in our future and our leadership is weak. Let’s not forget the massive corruption, of the benefit funds, and our leaders that came with it.
COMPANY LIFE CYCLES AND YOU: Not many companies in this business last no more than a generation or two. Many of our members will find themselves working for a company that closes its doors. With no union hall to fall back on you may find yourself with nowhere to go. After working for one company for years, you will have to solicit your own work. This won’t be easy when your only contacts in the business are in the same situation. You will be finding work the same way the non-union workers find theirs. Can you see yourself waiting outside the 7/11 or the train station in the mornings? There was a time when we had a functioning shape hall, when few union carpenters solicited their own work. In spite of its shortcomings the shape hall worked, and we made bonds and contacts with our fellow union brothers.
OVER THE HILL: We know this business gives our bodies a beating. As we reach 50 we are pretty banged up and the contractors know it. Full mobility will make it extremely difficult for older members to find work. Contractors only want us during our most productive years. Older carpenters will find it difficult to get work and almost impossible to earn pension credits. This could force them out of the business. Our younger guys, third and fourth year apprentices, will find themselves in a similar situation. They may be young and strong but most have not acquired the job skills and experience to work on their own. (We know this has become a one man trade.) Many of these guys have spent their apprenticeship unloading trucks. We need to change this; we need to teach our younger brothers and sisters the trade. We need them to stay in the union, for this union to have a viable future.
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER: Full Mobility will create an atmosphere of fear. Contractors will have the upper hand and some will pressure workers to bend the rules. Many members will be afraid of losing their jobs, leaving them more vulnerable to accepting cash and defrauding the Benefit funds. Council representatives may again send members to jobs through the back door creating an atmosphere ripe for favors and payoffs.
PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS: These may be required on some jobs but that doesn’t mean we have to take pay cuts. A PLA could be something as simple as working an 8 hour day or working four ten hour days. Our leadership has been systematically agreeing to wage and benefit cuts, while other trades agree only to relaxed work rules. We need leadership that will put a stop to the give backs and protect what generations of carpenters fought so hard to get.
MARKET RECOVERY: We need a different approach to this, lowering our wages and benefits by 20% are a bad idea. This only creates downward pressure on our wages in all markets. We need to attack these jobs with our political and organizing people. We need to have our people pressuring the community boards and politicians in addition to the financiers and developers of these projects.
POLITICAL ACTION AND ORGNIZING: These departments need to be combined to be effective. We know these departments have been a money pit with no tangible results. The directors and employees of these departments have either not been given the tools to work with or are totally incompetent. They need to work together to turn these jobs and companies right from the start, not after the buildings are 3 or 4 stories out of the ground. We need to put pressure on the politicians over the undocumented worker problem in this country. These politicians wouldn’t allow 20 million white collar professionals to come into this country undocumented but they do let blue collar workers come in and take our jobs. THAT’S JUST NOT RIGHT! These workers are putting downward pressure on wages and our families are the ones who are bearing the burden.
THE OUT OF WORK LIST: The OWL is total failure. There has been no effort to correct the problems with the OWL. The UBC supervision has made no attempt to fix this mess. This was the excuse used to give contractors the full request. The list failed the men and women on it and created the conditions for workers and BA’S to violate the OWL rules, intentionally or not. The people running the list from the director on down were either incompetent or complicit. The OWL needs to be totally restructured with a modified shape hall where workers will be dispatched to jobs. We need to verify skills and check workers for the proper tools for the job. This system can work. The contractors will have no argument for full mobility and we may even get the 50/50 back. Our union members will have a list that works and a place to find work. A truly functioning list will keep a check on corruption and give our members alternatives from being corrupted by unscrupulous contractors.
MOVING FOREWARD: WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP; WE NEED PEOPLE WITH A VISION FOR THE FUTURE. WE NEED PROBLEM SOLVERS, WE NEED PEOPLE LOOKING FORWARD NOT BACKWARD.
VOTE FOR GREG KELTY