Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Carpenters Union Fights to Keep Members from Joining Competing Union
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 07:29 PM
After their local union was dissolved due to corruption allegations, 700 dock builders are in the process of voting on which union should represent them: The New York City District Council of Carpenters or the newly formed Amalgamated Union. The District Council, which has more than 20,000 members, allege that Amalgamated was created by former members kicked out of the union for being corrupt.
"What I basically like to describe it as is the people that are forming Amalgamated were players in our organization who aren't allowed to play here anymore and they're just trying to bring the game across the street," said Michael Bilello, the newly elected leader of the District Council of Carpenters. Bilello's union, rife with corruption, has been under court oversight since 1994.
Attorney Dennis Walsh is the court-appointed review officer in charge of ridding the union of mob ties, racketeering and other types of corruption that tainted the District Council. Walsh confirmed that Amalgamated has, within its ranks, former District Council members accused of corruption. The attorney said the new union should also be bound by a consent decree requiring rigorous court oversight.
Attorney Angelo Bisceglie is listed as the president of Amalgamated. A call to his office in West Paterson, N.J., was never returned.
The 700 dock builders who are in the process of voting are involved in major development projects across the city, including Atlantic Yards, the World Trade Center and the Bayonne Bridge.
According to Walsh, Amalgamated would be offering 401(k)'s but no pension, and it was unclear whether medical benefits would be offered. "If I were a member, I would want to look at the facts as to what is in the best interest of my family," he said.
Bilello said he had visited several job sites to make his case against Amalgamated but acknowledges that some of the dock builders were put off by the International Carpenter's Union decision to dissolve their local due to corruption. "There's a lot of emotion involved with some of the guys and they're not thinking clearly about the kind of decision they're making here," Bilello said.
Bilello said he expected to know the results of the vote by March 29.