226 South Main Street, Providence, RI 02903

(401) 751-8010,

Fax (401) 861-3340

DATE: March 22, 1999

TO: All Connecticut Construction Local Unions and Members

FROM: Armand E. Sabitoni, Vice President and Regional Manager

RE: Contract Ratification


Over the past few months there has been a coordinated effort within our locals around the State to push the issue of rank and file contract ratification. This is part of an effort to create political divisions in our sister locals in Connecticut. The issue is being used as part of an ongoing attack on the strength and unity of the District Council. The purpose is to promote the narrow interests of a few at the expense of all our sister locals and members in Connecticut.

The basic point to understand is that rank and file voting on contract ratification is not the real issue. The Uniform District Council Constitution for many years has allowed Council delegates to authorize our negotiation committee to settle an agreement for one simple reason - because this maximizes the bargaining power and strength of the negotiation committee in dealing with the signatory contractors. That united bargaining strength, in turn, has resulted in many historic gains for our members including solid pension and health benefit plans, legal service and annuity funds, competitive wages and benefits, innovative labor-management cooperation programs that have helped to create additional union jobs, and job safety and training programs. These benefits and programs are the keys to our past and future success. And, the ratification process is democratic because the Council delegates are in turn elected directly by the membership. If the members believe that the committee has not done its job, the delegates can be voted out and replaced at the next local union election.

On the other hand, direct membership ratification of the contract adds an element of instability and uncertainty at the table that dilutes the negotiating committee's strength and means that the committee may not be able to deliver on the contract. It means that contractors can try and create divisions and splits among the special interest of locals in different areas of the State and play off one faction against another. It also increases the ability of a few locals to block an agreement that may be in the best interest of the overall membership.

Practices among various unions vary in terms of whether there is rank and file contract ratification. Many union such as ours follow our practice and do not provide for such ratification while some others do. In any event, there is a recognized method within our Union to change the ratification procedure if that is the majority's wish and that is by resolution to amend the Constitution at the upcoming convention in 2001. In the meantime, do not be fooled into allowing a few politically ambitious people to misuse this issue to advance their own interests at your expense.

cc: Connecticut Laborers' District Council

The attached correspondence is for your information and/of attention.

If there is anything further you wish to know regarding same, please advise. Please read the attached at your next local union meeting

Armand E. Sabitoni
Vice President and
Regional Manager

226 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

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