The following members were present: Douglas J. McCarron, Douglas J. Banes, Andris J. Silins, Jose Collado, Michael V Draper, James D. Slebsika, Bobby Yeggy, and James E. Smith. Also present was Brian Quinn and General Counsel John T. DeCarlo.
A Motion was made, seconded and carried to approve the January 27, 2003 Minutes, as read.
General Secretary-Treasurer Silins presented a financial report. A Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the financial report.
A report was presented by outside accountants Buchbinder, Tunick & Co., LLC., including a review of the financial statements and supplemental schedules for years ended December 31, 2002 and December 31, 2001. A Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the financial statements and supplemental schedules.
The General Executive Board reviewed a draft bulletin regarding Mandatory Picketing activity. The General executive Board will review the bulletin and decide whether to utilize it.
Mr. DeCarlo gave a report on banner litigation that is presently pending before the United States District Court and before an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board.
A Motion was made, seconded, and carried to adopt a Resolution regarding UBC Education, Training, and Organizing Grants.
A Motion was made, seconded and carried to ratify past loans to the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, the Tennessee Carpenters Regional Council and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.
Minutes - May 12, 2003
A Motion was made, seconded and carried that all future loans shall be approved by the General Executive Board.
A Motion was made, seconded, and carried to adopt revised Administrative procedures for Disbursements.
The General Executive Board reviewed materials regarding the appeal of Philip Lavallee. A Motion was made, seconded, and carried to deny the appeal of Mr. Lavallee. Board Member Collado abstained from deliberation and voting.
The General Executive Board reviewed materials regarding the appeal of Timothy T. Crenshaw. A Motion was made, seconded , and carried to deny the appeal of Mr. Crenshaw. Board Member Collado abstained from deliberation and voting.
The General Executive Board reviewed materials regarding the appeals of Robin Smetters, Michael Bluett and Jeffery Hodgson. A Motion was made, seconded, and carried that the guilty verdicts and penalties be set aside and the charges be remanded to the Trial Committee for a new trial.
It was discussed that in view of the downturn in the economy over the past three years, it appears that an increase in the contribution rate to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Pension fund is necessary for all United States Affiliates to sixteen percent (16%) of gross monthly compensation for each full time officer and representative effective October 1, 2003. It is the hope of the General Executive Board that the increase in the contribution rate will be temporary and that the rate will be lowered once the economy turns around.
There being no further business, the General President adjourned the meeting.
Andris J. Silins
General Executive Board
(original hardcopy available in pdf format)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
WRIT OF SUMMONS June 26, 2000
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
1. The plaintiff, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the "United Brotherhood"), is an international organization of workers founded in 1881 which currently has over 500,000 members in Canada and the United States. The United Brotherhood maintains a head office mailing address at 101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. The United Brotherhood's objectives are as set out in Section 2 of its Constitution and include the organizing of unorganized workers, as well as securing and maintaining adequate, fair, and reasonable wages and working conditions for its members.
2. The Plaintiff Douglas J. McCarron ("McCarron") is a member of the United Brotherhood and the General President of the United Brotherhood and brings this action on his own behalf, on behalf of and representing all members of the United Brotherhood.
3. The Plaintiff James E. Smith ("Smith") is a member of the United Brotherhood and is the General Executive Board Member for the Ninth District of the United Brotherhood and acting Executive Board Member for the 10th District, which encompasses the Province of British Columbia, of the United Brotherhood and brings this action on his own behalf and on behalf of and representing all members of the United Brotherhood.
4. The Plaintiff Wayne Cox ("Cox") is a member of the United Brotherhood and a member, and the Business Manager elect, of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1598. Cox is a Vice President of the Defendant British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters (the "Provincial Council") and a member of the Executive Board of the Defendant Provincial Council and brings this action on his own behalf and on behalf of and representing all members of the United Brotherhood.
5. The Plaintiff Michael Autzen ("Autzen") is a member of the United Brotherhood and a member, and President and Business Manager elect, of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1541 as well as a member of the Executive Board of the Defendant Provincial Council and brings this action on his own behalf and on behalf of and representing all members of the United Brotherhood.
6. The Plaintiff David Wright ("Wright") is a member of the United Brotherhood and of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1995 and brings this action on his own behalf and on behalf of and representing all members of the United Brotherhood.
7. The Defendant, British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters (the "Provincial Council") is a chartered subordinate council of the United Brotherhood composed of affiliated local unions and district Councils within the province of British Columbia with a head office at Room 305, 2806 Kingsway, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5R 5T5.
8. The Defendant Lennox Embree ("Embree") is the President of the Defendant Provincial Council and has both participated in and directed all the wrongful conduct complained herewith.
9. The Defendant David Flynn ("Flynn") is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Defendant Provincial Council and has both participated in and directed all the wrongful conduct complained herewith.
10. The Defendant G.R. & S Holdings Ltd. is a company duly incorporated pursuant to the laws of British Columbia with a registered office at 4th Floor, 195 Alexander Street, Vancouver, British Columbia.
11. The Defendants Embree and Flynn are directors of G.R. & S Holdings Ltd. as well as the President and Secretary respectively and one or both of them was at all material times the directing mind of G.R. & S Holdings Ltd.
12. The Defendant On the Level Publishers Ltd. is a company duly incorporated pursuant to the laws of British Columbia with a registered office at 4th Floor, 195 Alexander Street, Vancouver, British Columbia.
13. The Defendant On the Level Publishers Ltd. publishes a newspaper entitled "On the Level" for unionized carpenters in British Columbia. This publication is funded by the Defendant provincial Council and its affiliated local unions through per capita union dues. The Defendants Embree and Flynn are both members of the editorial board of On the Level.
14. Pursuant to the Constitution of the United Brotherhood (the "Constitution"), the International Union is empowered to establish and charter subordinate local unions as well as district and provincial councils which, once chartered, are subject to and governed by the Constitution. In British Columbia there are 27 local unions, (the "Locals"), 6 district councils (the "District Councils"), and one provincial council, namely the Defendant Provincial Council. As a chartered council of the United Brotherhood, the Defendant Provincial Council is subject to, and governed by, the Constitution.
15. In particular, pursuant to Section 27B of the Constitution, the Defendant Provincial Council has the power to make laws to govern the Provincial Council which "shall in no way conflict with the Constitution and Laws of the United Brotherhood, and which must be adopted by referendum vote of the members and approved by the First General Vice President (of the United Brotherhood) before becoming law."
16. All members of provincial councils, district councils and local unions established by the United Brotherhood are members of the United Brotherhood. The Constitution is a valid and binding agreement among all members of the United Brotherhood with one another as well as between the United Brotherhood and its affiliates, including the Defendant Provincial Council.
17. The General Executive Board of the United Brotherhood is composed of one elected member from each of the 10 Districts established on the Constitution together with the General President, First General President, Second General President and General Secretary-Treasurer. Pursuant to Section 14F of the Constitution:
"the General Executive Board shall have power to protect the property and interest of the United Brotherhood in such a manner as they may deem helpful and beneficial."
Pursuant to Section 14I of the Constitution:
" The General Executive Board and its members are fiduciaries entrusted with responsibility for the assets of the United Brotherhood."
18. Pursuant to the Constitution, all applicants for admission into the United Brotherhood sign an application containing an Obligation which reads, in part:
"I promise to abide by the Constitution and Laws - and the will of the majority - observe the By Laws and Trade Rules - established by Local Unions and use every honorable means - to procure employment for brother and sister members."
19. In connection with being sworn in as Officers of the Defendant Provincial Council, the Defendants Embree and Flynn were also required, pursuant to the Constitution, to pledge to perform the duties of their office as prescribed in the Constitution.
20. As members of the United Brotherhood, and officers of the Defendant Provincial Council, the Defendants Embree and Flynn at all times owed both contractual and fiduciary duties to the united Brotherhood and to its members and, in particular, a duty to obey and uphold the Constitution.
21. Section 54A of the Constitution states, in part:
"The General Funds or property of a Local Union or Council shall be used only for such purposes as are specified in the Constitution and Laws of the United Brotherhood and as may be required to transact and properly conduct its business ... But under no circumstances shall any of the General Funds be used for loans or donations to members, Contingent Funds, credit union sponsored by the Local Union or Council, or for political or religious purposes. Violation of this section subjects the offending local Union or Council to the penalty or suspension. Funds to be used for any other purposed must be handled through a Contingency Fund."
22. Section 10B of the Constitution states:
"The General President may personally, or by deputy, take possession for examinations of all books, papers and other records, including all financial records, of any Local Union, District Council, State Council or Provincial Council, summarily when necessary, and the same shall remain in possession of the General President within the jurisdiction of the local Union, District Council, State Council or Provincial Council until a complete report has been made and filed. During said examination a representative of the Local Union, District Council, State Council or Provincial Council may be present."
23. Section 30 of the Constitution states in part:
"If at any time, a Local Union, Council or other subordinate body should withdraw, lapse, dissolve, be suspended or expelled, or otherwise cease to function as a chartered subordinate body of the United Brotherhood, all Property, Books, Charter and Funds held by, or in the name of, or on behalf of said Local Union, or other subordinate body must be forwarded immediately to the General Secretary -Treasurer for such use or disposition in the interests of the membership of the United Brotherhood as the General President in the exercise of his or her discretion may direct."
24. In the exercise of his duties and powers as General President of the United Brotherhood pursuant to the Constitution, the Plaintiff McCarron appointed the accounting firm KPMG to act as his deputy pursuant to Section 10B of the Constitution to take possession for examinations of all books, papers and other records, including financial records for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 to date of the Locals, District Councils and Defendant Provincial Council in the Province of British Columbia.
25. By fax letter dated June 9, 2000, addressed to the Defendant Embree as President of the Defendant Provincial Council, the Plaintiff McCarron, inter alia, advised the Defendant Provincial Council that:
",,, to assist in carrying out the objects and affairs of the Brotherhood, and in accordance with the Constitution of the Brotherhood and specifically Article 10B, I have determined that it is necessary to conduct an examination of the financial records and related documents of the Provincial Council. I am directing that an examination of such records and documents be conducted by the representatives of KPMG, and they have been specifically retained for this purpose.
Pursuant to Section 10B of the UBCJA Constitution, I have designated KPMG representatives as my deputies and they may take possession for examination all books, papers and other records, including all financial records, of the Provincial Council. As provided by the Constitution, a representative of the Provincial Council may be present during the examination.
My deputies shall begin their examinations on Monday, June 19, 2000, at 9:30 a.m. and shall return daily until the examination is completed."
26. The said letter contained a description of the kinds of documents which were sought. This list included documents pertaining to the Defendants G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd. and On the Level Publishers Ltd., as follows:
"General ledgers, journals, subsidiary ledgers, cash books and any other books of prime entry relating to the union and companies owned by or related to the union including G.R. & S. Holdings ltd. and On the Level Publishers Ltd.
All information relating to the advance to G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd. by the Provincial Council, including the agreement relating to the advance, payments made and interest charges.
All information relating to the advance to On the Level Publishers Ltd. by the Provincial Council, including the agreement relating to the advance, payments made and interest charges.
Supporting documentation for any expenses not charged to a fund (expenses incurred by G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd.)
Information relating to the basis upon which G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd. as an investment agent for the B.C. Provincial Council."
27. By fax letter dated June 12, 2000 the Plaintiff McCarron wrote to each District Local Council and to each of the Locals stating, inter alia:
"... to assist in carrying out the objects and affairs of the Brotherhood, and in accordance with the Constitution of the Brotherhood and specifically Article 10B, I have determined that it is necessary to conduct an examination of the financial records and related documents of all District Councils and Local Union. I am directing that an examination of such records and documents be conducted by representatives of KPMG, and they have been specifically retained for this purpose.
Pursuant to Section 10B of the UBCJA Constitution, I have designated KPMG representatives as my deputies and they may take possession for examination of all books, papers and other records, including all financial records, of any Local Union or District Council. As provided by the Constitution, a representative of the Local Union or District Council may be present during examination.
A representative from KPMG will be contacting you shortly. We expect that you will arrange a time for the examination within seven (7) calendar days from the first telephone call / fax message. This matter is important and I anticipate that all the examinations shall be completed before the end of the month."
28. In breach of his duties to the United Brotherhood and its members, the Defendant Embree, and without consultation with the Executive of the Defendant Provincial Council, sent a letter date June 14, 2000 to affiliated Locals and District Councils counselling them to refuse to follow the lawful directive issued by the Plaintiff McCarron to provide access to the financial records to his deputies the KPMG representatives and providing with the letter a draft form of letter which he suggested be sent to the General President, the Plaintiff McCarron, setting out the refusal.
29. The Plaintiff McCarron has received letters in the for or substantially the form set out in the letter circulated by the defendant Embree from at least 13 of the Locals and 4 of the District Councils refusing to comply with the Plaintiff McCarron's lawful directive to provide access to his deputies to their financial records and related documents.
30. On or about June 16, 2000 Gary Gill ("Gill"), C.A. and Vice President of KPMG Investigation and Security Inc., telephoned the offices of the Defendant Provincial Council to arrange for his attendance on June 19, 2000 pursuant to the directive of the Plaintiff McCarron. The Defendant Flynn, in violation of the Constitution and his duties to the Untied (sic) Brotherhood and its members advised Gill that the Defendant Provincial Council would not comply with the directive of the Plaintiff McCarron.
31. On June 19, 2000, Gill attended at the offices of the Defendant Provincial Council to commence a review of the financial records and related document of the Defendant Provincial Council pursuant to Section 10B of the Constitution, and their duties to the Untied (sic) Brotherhood and its members, the Defendants Embree and Flynn refused to provide access to the requested, or any, records of the Defendant Provincial Council.
32. The Defendants and each of them have and are acting contrary to the Constitution to which they are bound constituting a breach of contract and causing the Plaintiff United Brotherhood and its members loss and damage.
33. The Defendants Flynn and Embree and each of them have acted and are acting in breach of their fiduciary duties causing the Plaintiff United Brotherhood and its members loss and damage.
34. The Defendant Embree has interfered in the contractual relations of members of the United Brotherhood and has introduced breaches of contract causing the United Brotherhood and its members loss and damage.
WHEREFORE the Plaintiff the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America claim as follows:
(a) a declaration that the General President's deputies, including but not limited to the representatives of KMPG appointed by the Plaintiff, General President McCarron of the Plaintiff United Brotherhood, may take possession of all books, papers and other records including all financial records and related documents of the Defendant Provincial Council for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 to date, including but not limited to: (see below (d) (i) through (xxi)
(b) an interim Order for the preservation of all books, papers, documents and other records including all financial records currently in the power, possession or control of the Defendants or any of them, their servants, agents and officers pending trial of this action.
(c) interlocutory, interim and permanent injunctions enjoining and restraining the Defendants Provincial Council, Embree and Flynn, and each of them, by themselves, their servants, agents or officers otherwise from:
(i) any actions which are in any fashion contrary to the Constitution;
(ii) any actions which are contrary to, or in breach of their duties under, the Constitution;
(iii) any actions which are contrary to, or in breach of their duties under, the Constitution;
(iv) counselling, advising or otherwise inducing any local or District Council or member thereof to breach the Constitution;
(v) counselling, advising or otherwise inducing any Local or District Council or member thereof to refuse to comply with the lawful directive issued by the Plaintiff McCarron pursuant to Section 10B of the Constitution;
(d) interlocutory, interim and permanent mandatory injunctions requiring the Defendants and each of them and their servants, agents and officers to deliver to the deputies of the General President, including but not limited to the representatives of KPMG, all books, papers and other records for the years 1998, 1999, 2000 including financial records including but not limited to:
(i) Names of all companies owned by or related to the Provincial Council and the names of directors, officers and auditors of these companies;
(ii) general ledgers, journals, subsidiary ledgers, cash books and any other books of prime entry relating to the union and companies owned or related to the union including G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd. and On the Level Publishers Ltd.;
(iii) Details relating to all bank statements, deposits slips and paid cheques;
(iv) Analysis of receivables and proof of subsequent collection;
(v) All information relating to the advance to G.R. & S. holdings Ltd. by the Provincial Council, including the agreement relating to the advance, payments made and interest charges;
(vi) All information relating to the advance to On the Level Publishers Ltd. by the Provincial Council, including the agreement relating to the advance, payments made and interest charges;
(vii) Analysis of supplies for resale (quantity and cost);
(viii) Information relating to the share in B.C. Federation Holding Society, including the current realizable value of the investment;
(ix) Supporting documentation for movements in all funds i.e. Escrow, General , Strike, Legal and Defense, Strike Fund Interest Payment Fund, Contingency, Organizing, Education, Convention, Bursary and Contract Administration;
(x) Payroll records for all employees'
(xi) Details of wage bonds held;
(xii) Title deeds and purchase agreements relating to all fixed property;
(xiii) Documentation in support of all investments, including current market values (if applicable) and income from these investments;
(xiv) Agreements and all other documentation relating to mortgages;
(xv) Supporting documentation for any expenses not charges to a fund (expenses incurred by G.R. & S. Holdings Ltd.);
(xvi) Information relating to the basis upon which G.R. & S. Holdings acts as an investment agent for the B.C. Provincial Council;
(xvii) A description of the accounting system used and a copy of the chart of accounts;
(xix) All minute books for meetings of the Executive Board of the Provincial Council and the minute books of all companies owned by or related to the Provincial Council;
(xx) Provincial Trustee reports and minutes;
(xxi) Contracts of employment;
(e) interlocutory, interim and permanent mandatory injunctions requiring the Defendants and each of them, their servants, agents and officers to show the Deputies of the General President, including but not limited to the representatives of KPMG, how to access any of the requested information which is stored on computer and to make printouts of whatever such records are requested by the KPMG representatives.
(f) interlocutory, interim and permanent injunctions requiring the Defendants and each of them, their servants, agents and officers, to make arrangements to have whatever equipment is needed in order to read or listen to records maintained on tape or disk (audio or magnetic) available for the deputies of the General President, including the representatives of KPMG;
(g) general and special damages against the Defendants and each of them:
(h) costs; and
(i) such and other relief as this Honourable Court may order.
Douglas J. McCarron
Mr. Len Embree, President
British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters
Room 305, 2806 Kingsway
Vancouver, British Columbia V5R 5T5
Dear Brother Embree:
I am sending this letter to you and I am sending a copy directly to the members of our Union in British Columbia. The recent August 24th edition of On the Level, like the two previous editions, continues to misrepresent the issues and to mislead the membership. Among the many misleading and inaccurate items, your President's Corner column stands out as being particularly irresponsible. It is a disservice to the membership. The gross scare mongering on the pension and benefits funds is extremely offensive and requires me to address your column directly.
You are well aware of the assurances I have given, in writing, that the Carpentry Workers Pension Plan of B.C. and the Carpentry Workers Benefit Plan of B.C. will not be affected by any potential restructuring. The trustees to the plans will continue to be elected by delegates as they are now. You are also aware that the actions of the trustees are governed by their fiduciary duties and by the terms and conditions of the trust agreement. This is the law for British Columbia and for other Canadian jurisdictions.
There are eight (8) regional councils operating in Canada. The pension and benefit trust funds of the locals in those councils have not been affected. Their trustees continue to be elected according to the guidelines established by their trust agreements.
We may have our disagreements on restructuring in British Columbia, but that is no excuse for creating insecurity on our members about their pension. As you agree, the status quo in British Columbia is neither acceptable nor sustainable. There is a desperate need to restructure so more of our members will be able to work under the collective agreement and enjoy health & welfare benefits now and have a decent pension in the future. The future is in organizing and in recapturing lost market share.
Your repeated use of scare tactics against the beneficiaries of the pension and benefits trust funds, in furtherance of your personal political agenda, is conduct bordering on a breach of your fiduciary duties as Chairman of the Board for those funds. Playing politics and instilling insecurity at a time when trustees should be relaying to the membership the reassurances that have been given by the Brotherhood is not only counterproductive, but unscrupulous.
Douglas J. McCarron
Delivered by Fax (604) 437-1110
August 18, 1999
British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters
Vancouver, British Columbia
Attention: Len Embree, President
Dear Brother Embree:
It has come to my attention that the B.C. Provincial Council of Carpenters intends to conduct a province-wide referendum vote on "The International's proposal for restructuring the Carpenters Union in British Columbia." After discussing the matter with General President, McCarron, I wish to set the record straight.
The International does not have a proposal for restructuring the Carpenters Union in British Columbia. At this time, mergers and the introduction of a Regional Council are under consideration for Vancouver Island / Powell River. Should restructuring in other areas of the province be proposed at a later date it will only occur after proper notification and consultation.
It is true that at the request of facilitator, Stan Lanyon, representatives from the Provincial Council and the Brotherhood exchanged "vision statements" on a restructured province on a without prejudice basis. This should not be confused with a formal proposal.
More importantly, there is no constitutional requirement for a referendum let alone a referendum which attempts to anticipate the position of the Brotherhood. The proposed referendum is unnecessary and the expense unwarranted. Please govern yourself accordingly.
James E. Smith
General Executive Board Member
Ninth and Tenth Districts
cc. Douglas J McCarron
All BC Locals
click for reply from L G Embree, President, British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When I was elected General President of the Brotherhood at the 1995 Convention, the delegates spoke openly and strongly to resolutions for change. I have taken the Brotherhood's direction seriously. In the past four years, we have made many changes throughout Canada and the United States - positive changes that affect how we operate, serve our membership and compete in the changing marketplace.
To survive as an effective union and provide good paying, safe jobs for our membership, we must re-organize our structure and our membership and regain lost market share.
A way to get there
The Regional Council concept has been introduced to most of Canada and the United States. The Regional Council concept, as adapted for Canada, reduces administration costs and creates an accountable executive, which, in turn, provides consistency across the construction market for our membership and for union contractors. This model allows for savings in time and money which are put back into organizing.
And it's working
Membership numbers have risen. The number of contractors signed to collective agreements and the size of our market share has increased. In many areas, the Brotherhood is making inroads into the low - rise residential sector.
Workshops and training
The Brotherhood has invested in training and in identifying organizers from the rank and file. We have also developed an intensive 2 week training course for representative/organizers to ensure they have the skills they need to get the job done. Both programs have been a great success. Canadians who have completed the two week course for representative/organizers have reported very positively on their experiences. Most Canadian Regional Councils have held 3-day workshops.
Change is necessary...from the top down
Finally, it is important to know that the changes have been dramatic from the top down. Currently, the General Executive Board has been reduced from 13 members to 9 members. Staff at headquarters has been reduced by over 50%. We are considering demolishing our headquarters building in Washington and replacing it with a modern office building that is projected to return close to 10 million dollars a year in revenue from tenants. We are committed to returning 50% of per capita back to Regional Councils in organizing grants.
The BC Reality
As you all know, the situation in British Columbia has become shaky. Our market share for carpentry has plummeted to about fifteen (15%) percent. More and more, our contractor base is shrinking with many contractors opting for project management as a competitive edge. Non - union and rat union contractors are large and perform the lion's share of the projects big and small. The old monopoly on industrial work in the pulp mills has fallen away. We are not often even very competitive on government projects under the Fair Wage Act where we obtain 20% of the work at best. We rely heavily on government work through the Hydro and HCL agreements. And, as we have seen in other provinces, these agreements and legislation may well not survive a change in government.
The Provincial Council has financial problems. Their proposed budget for 1999 anticipates a deficit of $135,450.00 while the contingency fund which is traditionally used to make up the shortfall recorded a year end balance of $40,518.00. Not enough members are working enough hours to maintain the old system. There are too many unsustainable small Locals which are supported by part time representatives. The Locals often use the funds designated for organizing to cover operations and overhead. Resources are being used to sustain a system which is not producing for the membership.
The B.C. Provincial Council's decision to end organizing grants to small Locals highlights the recognition that change is necessary.
Our unity is challenged.
The reports on the attempted raid on CLAC - certified Walter Construction show the challenges we face in organizing. Statements like "we have failed to keep in touch with our members" and the fact that many of our own members voted CLAC make it very clear that the changes we are making are essential to our survival.
Our members need to earn a decent living. Why would a carpenter abandon his connection to a steady employer when the union can only offer work for union wages to less than half our membership and often with only meager hours at that? That's our challenge as a Brotherhood - to adapt and to grow in this changing climate.
On Vancouver Island the story is similar. Although the Victoria Local has some long standing union contractors, non - union Vancouver based contractors are entering the Victoria market. Outside of the two largest cities, most commercial, institutional and residential work goes non - union or to the rat unions. The pulp and paper market is in decline and the amount of work that goes non - union in these mills is on the rise. Some Locals have lapsed into a pattern of "mill town locals" where the only time union jobs are available, is when there is work at the mill.
Where do we go from here?
Some ideas for B.C. Carpenters
In response to obviously declining market trends and in response to a general recognition that the status quo is neither desirable nor sustainable, I am considering a series of mergers and the introduction of a Regional Council for Vancouver Island and Powell River. The Regional Council would replace the current Vancouver Island District Council of Carpenters which would be dissolved.
Vancouver Island / Powell River is a construction market area where we have both the membership and a number of longstanding contractors to make things happen. We simply must use our resources in a more coordinated and aggressive fashion.
The following are the proposed mergers I am considering;
Local Union 513 Port Alberni into Local Union 527 Nanaimo
Local Union 2068 Powell River into Local Union 1989 Northern Vancouver Island, and
Local Union 1812 Duncan into Local Union 1598 Victoria.
The proposed merged Locals would still have representation throughout the region but administrative costs would be significantly reduced.
The Regional Council Concept
The Regional Council is based on representational democracy - similar to how you elect your MLA to Victoria and your MP to Ottawa. In fact, it is similar in principle to how you elect your delegates to the Provincial Council Convention. Delegates to the Provincial Council, in turn, elect the President and Secretary - Treasurer and set policy through the adoption of resolutions.
In the proposed Regional Council for Vancouver Island and Powell River, the members of each local would elect delegates. The number of delegates in the following example is based on the current formula used by the Vancouver Island District Council of 1 delegate per 100 members or major portion thereof.
Local Union 1898/2068 298 members 3 delegates
Local Union 527/1812 356 members 4 delegates
Local Union 1598/1812 914 members 9 delegates Total = 16 delegates
(Example is based on April 1999 numbers. The numbers would be finalized the month before an election).
Regional Council Officers
The delegates elect the officers of the Regional Council: President, Vice - President, Executive - Secretary-Treasurer, Warden, Conductor, 3 Trustees, plus a number of Executive Committee Members yet to be determined.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Regional council is the central governing body and, except for clerical employees of the Local Unions, it employs all staff including representatives and organizers. Representatives and organizers will be hired on the basis of their ability and these positions are open to members - not just to the delegates. Candidates are selected through an open 3 - day evaluation process and recommended to the Executive Committee. Organizers and representatives maintain their employment based on fair and objective performance reviews. The day-to-day operations of the Council are run by the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee
The Executive Committee consists of the President, Vice-President, Executive Secretary-Treasurer and a number of Executive Committee Members yet to be determined.
The Executive Secretary-Treasurer is responsible for the management and supervision of the field activities, business office(s) and for conducting the daily business of the Council. With the approval of the Executive Committee, s/he employs and directs the organizers and representatives.
In the creation of other Regional Councils in Canada, the interim delegates have been appointed as has the Executive of the Council. When the Council has had an opportunity to establish itself, then elections will be held. In other Canadian jurisdictions this has ranged from less than 6 months to more than a year, depending on circumstances. This issue will be raised directly and discussed with the executive officers of each local. I am confident that with dialogue, and with cooperation, we can arrive at a workable solution.
The Regional Council connection.....
The Executive Secretary-Treasurers (ESTs) across Canada and the United States meet with the General President and the General Executive Board three times a year to give input as to the direction the the Brotherhood should take. The Canadian ESTs meet separately to discuss Canadian issues. This replaces the old system where the "leaders at the grassroots" met only once in 5 years at a General Convention.
A final word on Accountability
The key component of the Regional Council is accountability. Representatives/organizers, chosen for their ability, must do their jobs to maintain them. They must be given proper direction and adequate resources by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Committee who are responsible to your elected delegates.
This accountability is not just theory, it is built in to the operating plan of the Regional Council. For example, when a Council applies to general office for training and for financial support for organizing drives, it must present a plan that includes expected outcomes and must verify progress in order to receive the next cash installment.
I want to hear from you . . .
By the end of the process, meetings will have been held with the membership and the executives of all 6 locals involved. There will have been meetings with representatives from the B.C. Provincial Council. There will have been an opportunity for individuals to provide written submissions.
This should provide a solid basis for me to make a considered decision with respect to Vancouver Island and Powell River. I look forward to meeting with as many of you as possible and hearing your input.
As a union, our strength is our people. To secure a future with safe jobs and good wages, we must work together through these changing times - always looking ahead, always united.
UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA
Douglas J. McCarron
June 1, 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
By now you know that the facilitation process between the Brotherhood and the Provincial Council appears to have ceased. Despite the best efforts of representatives from both sides an impasse was reached. However, both sides did agree on the need for dramatic structural change in British Columbia. For example, the Provincial Council proposal calls for a reduction from 17 carpenter locals and 2 industrial locals to a total of 7 locals. Our proposal anticipates a reduction to approximately 12 locals. The moral of the story is that there has to be change.
You have also received a special edition of On the Level which "attempts to inform" the membership about restructuring. Sadly, it is difficult to detect the few facts scattered amidst the fear-mongering and rhetoric. Let me assure you that there will be no changes in British Columbia without direct consultation with, and input from, the membership!
Let me also take this opportunity to set the record straight on a number of issues that are very important to our membership:
1. The pension fund will remain in British Columbia under the control of the membership in British Columbia. The same is true for the Health & Welfare Plan.
2. The membership will continue to conduct ratification votes on collective agreements. Province-wide bargaining under Bill 26 will continue.
3. As I have stated since the beginning of the dialogue on restructuring, all proposed changes will be a product of consultation and will conform with the laws of British Columbia.
4. Local hire and mobility provisions will be subject to the collective agreement.
5. The tentative agreement reached with the Pile Drivers, Millwrights, Shipbuilders, Floorlayers, and School Boards regarding their distinctiveness within the provincial structure remains in place.
We have every intention of restructuring the Brotherhood in British Columbia in a manner that makes sense for British Columbia. Our market share has fallen to a disastrous low of about 12% leaving us little leverage in collective bargaining. Organizing successes are few and far between. We need to become more efficient and more focused on our clear objectives - organizing and increasing our market share.
If carpenters - union and non-union alike - are working non-union, its going to be non-union wages that set industry standards, not ours. In British Columbia the Provincial Council has informed me that of our 7,000 carpenters in the province, only 3,000 worked under the collective agreement last year for a total of 3 million hours. Approximately 2,000 of those carpenters averaged only 500 hours under the collective agreement. We have an enormous challenge ahead of us to reverse this. I look forward to your assistance as we take on this challenge.
You will be receiving further notices to keep you informed on the restructuring process. I have requested that this letter be published in the next issue of On the Level. I have also requested each local to read the letter to the membership at the next meeting.
I hope that as active members of the Union you will take advantage of every opportunity to assist us in restructuring the Brotherhood in British Columbia so that we can turn the tables on the non-unions and the rat unions alike.
(signature) Douglas J. McCarron
101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001 Phone: (202) 546-6206 Fax: (202) 543-5724