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BCTD Reinstates Administrative Committee, Reserving Seat for Carpenters' President

 

By Brian Lockett

Thursday, May 2, 2002

 

The presidents of the 14 unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department unanimously approved reinstatement of its six-member administrative committee, reserving the sixth position for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters should the union rejoin the federation and the department.

 

BCTD President Edward C. Sullivan announced the decision and the committee's first meeting in an April 24 letter to the presidents of the department's affiliated unions.

 

Named to sit on the administrative committee are Edwin D. Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Martin J. Maddaloni, president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Frank Hanley, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Terence O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union, and Joseph J. Hunt, president of the Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers. The sixth seat is reserved for Douglas McCarron, president of the Carpenters and Joiners of America.

 

The committee advises and consults with the BCTD president on department operations. Meetings are scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month with the first meeting set for May 7 in Washington, D.C.

 

Reinstatement of the committee was agreed to at an April 4 meeting of the general presidents, Sullivan said in the letter.

 

Not mentioned in the letter, but confirmed by union sources, was a vote by the presidents at the April 4 meeting to make other changes in the department's operations, including voting on financial matters and application of national agreements weighted by the amount of per capita tax paid by an affiliate. His letter also did not mention an agreement that no jurisdictional disputes will be referred to the industry's Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes for 60 days while jurisdictional issues are considered by the department's governing board of presidents.

 

Underlying and perhaps driving some of these developments was the withdrawal last year by the Carpenters from the AFL-CIO over disagreements about organizing and spending priorities. By withdrawing from the federation, the Carpenters also gave up their membership in BCTD. Presidents of the department's largest unions have criticized Sullivan's handling of the Carpenters' withdrawal.

 

Following a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the Carpenters to rejoin the federation and department, McCarron submitted a proposal earlier this year stating conditions under which his union would reaffiliate. Those terms, which included resignation by Sullivan and his secretary-treasurer, were immediately rejected by Sullivan (37 DLR A-10, 2/25/02).

 

Meanwhile, plans by the department's three largest unions to create a new and separate department that would include the Carpenters appear to have foundered as the 14 presidents continue to work within the existing BCTD structure.

 

The results of the presidents' April 4 meeting and a brief meeting April 15 indicate movement toward addressing many concerns originally raised by the Carpenters.

 

However, inability to find quick solutions to issues such as jurisdiction has been frustrating to some large union contractors seeking union support on certain major projects as well as union officials. "Nothing really has changed," one union official said. "We need to get focused on the main thing, which is that 80 percent of the market is working against us. Our structure and politics are complicated but the solution is not complicated."

 

The governing board has not met since the department's annual national legislative conference April 15-17 when Sullivan's leadership of the department was challenged by Michael Monroe, president of the Painters and Allied Trades. Monroe has since resigned as president of his union (77 DLR A-10, 4/22/02) and has been named "counselor" to his successor, Jimmy Williams.


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