Brother Little comments from April 3, 2002 echo IBEW President Hills message at the Building Trades Unity Rally in June of 2010
UNION RIGHTS UNDER ATTACK
The American union movement long a bastion of pure Democracy, has
been attacked. This attack does not come from the usual suspects,
nonunion companies and anti-union politicians. But, from within the
trade union movement itself, more specifically the leadership of the
various so-called "hardhat unions".
The rank and file union membership, have always held a check against
leaders assuming unbridled power, the simple right to vote. While an
imperfect system the wishes of their membership was something even
the most corrupt union official had to keep in mind.
The first major change in this system occurred when Douglas McCarron
was elected General President of the International Brotherhood of
Carpenters. One of McCarron's first acts was to change the
traditional system of independent local unions. He dissolved many
smaller locals and combined their members with larger locals. McCarron
then combined the remaining locals into "Regional Councils" which
took over the traditional functions of the local unions. Leaving the
local union elected leadership as mere figureheads with no authority.
The Regional Councils are ran by "Executive Secretary/Treasurers"
(EST) who are mostly handpicked McCarron loyalists. The member's
representatives, who were long chosen by direct membership vote, are
now hired employees of the councils who own their livelihood to the
EST and by extension, McCarron. The councils were allowed to decide
whether the membership would have the right to vote on union
contracts and working conditions. Not surprisingly, the councils
universally rejected the right of the membership to accept or reject
their contracts. While bylaws, contracts, and officers are supposed to
be voted by elected delegates. The truth is that the vast majority of
delegates are either employed by the council or hired as such soon
after being elected.
McCarron's next step was to unilaterally withdraw the Carpenters
union from the AFL-CIO citing" philosophical differences". Many
observers felt that McCarron's real motivation was a wish to head a
union combining all crafts under one untouchable leader.
Many worried observers saw his actions, as a naked grab for power in
the historical tradition of many dictators. McCarron denied all
reports of "raiding" other unions' areas of employment; while telling
the leadership of the AFL-CIO he was prepared to return to the fold
as long ascertain conditions were met. Most of these conditions were
thinly disguised grabs for more power and influence for Douglas
McCarron. Including the removal of the elected president of the
Building Trades department.
McCarron's third step has recently become evident. In late March of
2002 he informed a contractors group that he had formed a coalition
of construction unions and would use it to gain concessions for them
(the contractors) from the AFL-CIO.
April 4th 2002 may well mark an historic day in labor history as well
as the death-keel for democratic rights. The Building Trades
President is to present a plan to AFL-CIO President Sweeney for
dealing with the Carpenters union. The proposal will require the
support of the general Presidents of the various unions.
Unfortunately a draft constitution for a new organization called the
Building Trades Federation has been drawn-up. The General Presidents
of the unions willing to affiliate with the carpenter seem to have
forgotten the dangers of appeasement. If they feel that this will
satisfy an unbridled lust for power and money; they have also
forgotten McCarron's habit of dismissing and replacing anyone who has
ever disagreed with him. His promises of lifetime employment have
always carried the tacit threat of summary termination. They may find
that the denial of rights to individual union members will now extend
to individual unions.
Carpenters for Democratic Union International