BC Carpenters win injunction against International
Vancouver Local leads fight against McCarron
By Doug McCorquodale
The International has again launched legal action against the BC Carpenters. In April, Vancouver Local 1995 received a letter demanding the attendance of the Local at a supervision hearing in May. The Local Union immediately filed an injunction and an unfair labour practice application at the Labour Relations Board.
The application, filed under Section 10 of the Code, stated that the International General President McCarron is exercising discretionary power and such power cannot be exercised in bad faith. The application also seeks provision of natural justice as protection against the bad faith of the International Presidents powers.
The injunction, which was granted, was applied for in order to deal with the bias and bad faith application at the Labour Board before McCarron can have his trusteeship hearing.
McCarrons justification for a trusteeship hearing is based on the most frivolous allegations. For example, McCarron charges that Local 1995 did not use the UBC approved installation ceremony for some newly elected officers or distribute the International constitution to some new members. He also alleges the Local did not use the UBCJA issued number to identify a member on his dues receipt and referred to the BC Carpenters Union Constitution as authority on the dues notice. McCarron also quotes hearsay that the Local is no longer paying per capita tax to the United Brotherhood although his own records dont confirm that. These are among the list of frivolous matters the International is using to try to put Local Union 1995 under trusteeship.
All part of a plan
The bad faith conduct of the International drips heavily onto the BC Carpenters. The Internationals renegade Local Union 1598 leadership launched a raid on BC Carpenters bargaining structure with the intent of weakening collective bargaining in British Columbia. They did this at a time when the BC Carpenters are trying to negotiate a renewal of their province-wide standard agreement (see the last issue of ON THE LEVEL). The International did nothing. Local Union 1541, another International-led Local Union of Floorlayers, drove members that opposed their leadership out of the Local and launched a frivolous lawsuit against those members and the Provincial Council. The Provincial Council was named presumably because the Council sought to defend these members from Local 1541s politically motivated attacks. Still, the International does nothing.
But the International does plenty when it comes to attacking the livelihood of BC Carpenters.
Last fall the BC Carpenters formed a joint council with the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union Local 470 in order to secure more work for its members and develop closer ties to the CEP. This spring the International with their proxy minions in the leadership of Local 1598 Victoria, Local 527 Nanaimo, Local 1907 Chilliwack-Mission, Local 1370 Kelowna, Local 1541 Floorlayers, and Local 2397 Fort St. John School Board appeared at the Labour Board to oppose the creation of the joint council. This opposition was dismissed, but it took time and time lost is work lost to our members.
See Trusteeship page 2
The International clearly cares for nothing in regards to obtaining more work for BC Carpenters.
The International was found not to be acting in good faith in regard to its treatment of BC Carpenters in the BC Supreme Court last year. Nothing has changed. Since the Supreme Court decision, we have received more legal actions against the BC Carpenters and now a set up trusteeship hearing. This International union is hated in BC by its members for its anti-democratic behaviour and by British Columbians for being a USA applicant that initiated (and still supports) the softwood lumber duties against Canada. You really have to be self-serving and arrogant to think that carrying this kind of baggage, the International can come to Canada and attempt to put Canadians under trusteeship.
This trusteeship application is nothing more than an attempt to obtain bargaining rights and seize control of the BC Carpenters. The BC Carpenters rejected the International by an 83 per cent vote in a province-wide mail in ballot referendum last year.
Court Costs awarded to BC
BC Provincial Council of Carpenters Secretary-treasurer Dave Flynn and President Len Embree celebrate receiving a $60,000 cheque from the UBCJA for costs awarded in the 10B lawsuit that BC Carpenters won last year. The judgment stated that International President Douglas McCarron acted in bad faith when he attempted to seize the BC Carpenters books and records.
Canadian OPEIU wins court battle
Office Employees moving to autonomy
Canadian members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union have won a major victory in BC Supreme Court in their efforts to become an autonomous Canadian union. Justice Ian Pitfield rejected an injunction application filed by the American OPEIU president attempting to stop an ongoing national membership campaign for autonomy and ordered the International to pay costs to the Canadians.
Pitfield said the International had not made full, frank and fair disclosure and that their case to stop the vote, which is guaranteed in the union constitution, was weak.
The 35,000 members of the Canadian section of OPEIU are being asked if they support establishing their own autonomous national Canadian union by returning authorization forms to the union to support the position of the unions Canadian National Committee. The issue arose, says OPEIU Canadian Director Jerri New, after the International indicated earlier this year that it wanted to increase the per capita paid to Washington by 30 per cent over three years. The Canadian National Committee then voted to exercise its rights under the International constitution to form an independent Canadian union, with a token affiliation to the International. Their Washington head office subsequently launched the legal challenge and threatened to amend its constitution at this months International Convention to remove the independence clause, to bar Canadians from holding office, from voting on many issues, and from accessing the strike fund, which the International administers.
New, president of the 11,500-member OPEIU Local 378 (ICBC, BC Hydro, Terasen, Accenture, and others) has demanded an apology and retraction of inaccurate and defamatory comments contained in newspaper ads placed (in newspapers across the country)
by International OPEIU president Michael Goodwin. She urged all members to send in their autonomy authorization forms, preferably before the International convention convening June 20 in Florida.
OPEIU Local 15, which is taking part in the autonomy drive, represents workers in many union offices, including the BC Carpenters. Construction Industry Trade Union members are currently in negotiations and have turned down a Final Offer of 34¢ in 2005 that would represent a mere 4.9 per cent increase since 1993, says Local 15 business agent Paul Bjarnason.
CANADIAN OPEIU AUTONOMY:
Our Name has Changed! The Office & Professional Employee's International Union Loc. 378 is now the Canadian Office & Professional Employees' Union, Loc. 378!
New Canadian union outraged by U.S. International union serving legal action in Florida District Court to attempt to stop Canadian members of OPEIU from forming separate union
California retirees applaud Council
We, the members of Carpenters Retirees Club #20 of Orange County, California, were a chartered organization of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. I say were because since Douglas McCarron took over we are no longer recognized as chartered.
Nevertheless, we wish to send to you our congratulations for standing up to Douglas McCarron and stopping him from taking over the British Columbia Council of Carpenters. We applaud you taking him to court.
Our Local Unions, 2203 Anaheim and 1815 Santa Ana, never had a chance to fight. They came in and put everyone out of the union offices and padlocked the doors. They confiscated the money in the bank, plus the building, selling it and pocketed the money. Not a move suggesting a democratic organization.
We have been asking for a raise in the monthly pension for 15 years and have not received an increase even though there was plenty of money in the Trust, which now seems to be disappearing. None of the politicians we have asked for help seem to be able to help us.
So we congratulate you for taking your problem to the courts and winning over Douglas McCarron. We would appreciate hearing from you. Maybe we could use some pointers from you on pursuing your objective.
President, Retirees Club #20, Irvine California
by Len Embree
Internationals gyrations difficult to explain
US gang trumps up charges against Local 1995
Proposals and attitude leaves me less than optimistic
In the midst of all the continuing harassment from the International, we are once again into construction sector bargaining. Preliminary meetings have left me feeling less than optimistic. Considering Construction Labour Relations proposals and attitude leaves me less than optimistic. Their proposals include, amongst other things, a six year agreement, maintaining frameworks, and all the sunset nonsense not very realistic, considering the employment forecasts. However, I have always taken the position in any negotiations that, regardless of the hurdles, an agreement eventually will have to be concluded.
This, of course, does not apply to our dealings with the International. They recently paid us $60,000 in court costs for the Section 10B lawsuit. This, even though their position was that we had lost? Now, we have get ready for it the sequel to 10B: 10H!
An attempt to explain all the gyrations these characters are going through in their attack is almost impossible to put into print. What I can say is that the end result is that McCarron has informed Local Union 1995 Vancouver-New Westminster that he is calling a trusteeship hearing to address get ready for it, again their not swearing in the duly elected officers of 1995 to allegiance to himself (McCarron), remitting per capita tax payments late, and the killer: changing the membership number of David Wright! Oh, and I almost forgot, not giving a member (David Wright) a copy of the International Constitution when he asked for one.
All of the foregoing, of course, instigated and put into play by no other than David Wright himself. Did I forget to mention, by the way, that David Wright is an International Representative, hired by and reporting to Douglas McCarron? He most likely has a bundle of International Constitutions under his pillow. This is the same Wright who recently was appointed, along with Doug Urquhart, to act as Business Agents for the eighty-some members of Local 1907 in the Fraser Valley.
Quite humorous, but also quite sobering when it is realized that this gang from the US is prepared to place the largest Local Union in our province under trusteeship and remove officers who were duly elected in a democratic process (despite the Internationals well-financed campaign against them), on some phoney, trumped-up issues that McCarrons agents manufactured, and then appoint some cronies to run the Local Union on their behalf. This, all to take place in a country foreign to them. Im not surprised, but I need to say very clearly that this is not Iraq; its not Ontario, nor is it even Alberta. Its British Columbia Canada! They cannot win this fight, regardless of their arrogance and presumption of power.
We look forward to the next round in this struggle. In an ongoing parallel plot, we have their other flunky, Wayne Cox from Victoria, trying to decide whether he is in or out of the Provincial Council.
One time, he is attempting to raid members out of the Provincial Council and into his Local Union. The next, hes got McCarron writing letters demanding he be appointed to the Provincial Council Executive Board, along with his crony, Shan OHara.
Now, let me see same game, different players. Not really same game, same players: McCarron, Smith, Cox, Autzen. So, now we have Autzen suing the Provincial Council for conspiring to not be nice to him, Cox trying to raid the Provincial Council, Wright laying out some plot in the hopes of compromising his own Local Union, and McCarron as the grand master wielding the club.
All of this is in the name of some kind of trade unionism. The membership in B.C. remain unimpressed and uninterested in playing their game or in being connected to this concept of trade unionism.
International Reps appoint themselves in Valley
An intriguing development has occurred in the Fraser Valley. Chilliwack-Mission Local 1907 long-time Business Agent Steve Mohr has been replaced by two full-time paid International Representatives. In a letter from the Local 1907 Executive, Doug Urquhart and Dave Wright announced their appointment for the eighty-some member carpenter local. No local union nominations or elections were held. Urquhart and Wright are both Representatives on the International UBCJA payroll.
The fact that the new BAs are International staff speaks volumes about how the UBCJA feels about democracy said Len Embree. The BC Carpenters Union will do everything it can to reach out to the Local 1907 members who we know are upset about not having a right to vote for their Representative.
Ferries should be built in BC by Local 506 Shipbuilders
Campbell prepares to ship our jobs offshore says Eaton
By Bob Eaton, Local 506
BC Ferries Services appears to be planning to award contracts for the construction of two Super C Class ferries (with an option for a third) to a foreign shipyard either in South Korea, Germany or Finland. This is an outrageous insult to all BC shipyard workers, the industry and the province as a whole.
For the past thirty years, all new ferry construction has been done right here in BC with the economic benefits flowing back into the provincial economy. This $220 million project represents at least 1,000 direct jobs and 500 indirect jobs over three years4500 person-years of work. The loss of this work threatens the viability of a shipbuilding and ship repair industry on the West Coast. What makes matters worse is the fact that BC Ferries has disqualified the Washington Marine Group, a local shipyard company, from even participating in the bidding process.
David Hahn, the American CEO of BC Ferries, justifies this move by saying BC shipyards are not qualified to bid on this work, claiming they dont have the resources or manpower to complete such a large project. This is utter nonsense.
BC shipyard workers have built the entire fleet of vessels, including the larger Spirit Class ferries. By all estimates, the quality of construction has been second to none and the direct and indirect economic benefit to the province has been substantial. The spin-offs flowing to everything from naval architecture to machinery manufacturers to flooring companies, sheet metal, refrigeration and furniture manufacturers, help create a nucleus of local skills to sustain BC industry.
The real issue behind Hahns move can be found by following the almighty dollar. You see, these foreign governments subsidize their shipyards. Canadian shipyards have not received any government subsidies since the mid 1970s. The result is that BC and Canadian workers and their companies are forced to compete on an uneven playing field.
In an effort to somewhat level the playing field without offering subsidies, the federal government developed a National Shipbuilding Policy that offers ship owners structured financing incentives that can provide up to a 15 per cent benefit in the cost of overall construction. As far as we know, BC Ferries has not even bothered to apply for this potential benefit.
If BC Ferries awards this work offshore, they could face a 25 per cent tariff to bring the ships back to BC. On $220 million that equals a whopping $54 million penalty to have the work done overseas. Considering BC Ferries needs to spend over $2 billion over the next 15 years on vessel replacement, the effect is staggering.
When Vancouver Shipyards, a Washington Marine Group company, beat out five foreign shipyards to build a new ferry for the Bowen Island run, guess what? BC Ferries killed the bid, offering the foreign yards another chance to out-do a local company. This behaviour illustrates just how low David Hahn and BC Ferries will go to ruin shipbuilding here in BC. Vancouver Shipyard was also low bid on the mid-life refits of the five C Class ferries in direct competition with yards from five other countries including China, Korea, Taiwan and the United States. this contract is potentially worth $175 million. Our members have now completed the refits on the Queen of Coquitlam and the Queen of Cowichan.
With such a demonstrated track record of competitiveness internationally and the positive investment in BC, why would BC Ferries exclude local bidders? One possibility is that American CEO David Hahn intends to apply to the federal government to waive the 25 per cent tariff, falsely claiming that British Columbians cannot handle the job.
If David Hahn were to try such a stunt in his own country he would quickly find out that the Jones Act legislation fully protects US shipyards and their workers by prohibiting American ship construction outside the US. Why cant Canadians have the same protection?