Tensions Rise Among NYC Union Carpenters
New York City union carpenters' rank and file members rallied at union headquarters in Manhattan on April 12, protesting proposed changes to wages and mobility rules and calling for reform of council leadership. The “Rally for Solidarity” came as heated bargaining continues between local unions and contractor groups.
John Musumeci, Local 157, likened the conflict to the union battle in Wisconsin earlier this year. “We are in that same fight, only our fight is not with the governor; our fight is with [United Brotherhood of Carpenters'] General President Douglas McCarron and his sock puppet [New York City District Council of Carpenters Supervisor] Frank Spencer,” he told protesters.
Musumeci accused McCarron of “cozying up to” contractors. He also called for reform of union bylaws to “empower membership.”
The carpenters union is still reeling following a series of federal investigations into alleged wrongdoings by past council leaders. The alleged infractions included fraud, kickbacks, illegal drug use and credit card abuse. U.S. attorneys appointed Spencer as emergency supervisor in 2009.
Following the rally, Spencer released a statement noting that members have been “living through troubled times in recent years, brought on by corruption of its previous leaders and a downturn in the nation's economy.”
“Over the past year or so, we have begun to make progress in righting a lot of wrongs that have crippled the council and our members,” he added. “The leadership of the District Council has offered a strong proposal to amend its bylaws that expand democracy within the New York City operation and provide further financial transparency. We are working with the review officer and the U.S. attorney's office to develop these bylaws and to ensure our membership has the opportunity to provide more input into the operations of their union.”