BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVINCIAL
COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS
Chartered by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
Room 305, 2806 Kingsway Telephone: (604) 437-0471
Vancouver, BC, V5R 5T5 Facsimile: (604) 437-1110
For Immediate Release
March 25, 2002
BC union's U.S. parent backing softwood lumber tariff
The U.S. parent of the BC carpenters union is an ally of the American lobby group that pushed for stiff countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.
At the same time as BC's lumber industry faces huge losses from steep U.S. duties, the BC Council of Carpenters is defending itself in court against a bid by its parent, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, to scrap union elections and take control of its pension and strike funds.
"The United Brotherhood, led by General President Doug McCarron, is attacking BC workers in the forest industry at the same time as they are going after BC Carpenters," says Len Embree, president of the BC Council of Carpenters.
"The U.S. parent is a member of the Canadian Labour Congress, but its actions against the Canadian forest industry and union democracy breach the CLC constitution, and put the lie to claims that they are looking out for the best interests of BC carpenters."
BC Carpenters claim that the lawsuit brought against them by their U.S. parent is a ploy to impose a trusteeship on the BC union. BC Carpenters have withstood the United Brotherhood&Mac226;s campaign to place BC locals under U.S. control. The lawsuit goes to court in May.
"It would be a travesty if at the same time the U.S. parent is supporting an attack on the Canadian softwood lumber industry they are able to use BC courts to put us under trusteeship, then take away our democratic rights and control over pension and strike funds," Embree said.
Last spring, in a province-wide referendum, 77 percent of BC Carpenters voted for autonomy from the United Brotherhood. Since then, the United Brotherhood has refused to meet with the BC Council to discuss the results of the vote. The BC Carpenters have turned to the CLC to press for autonomy from the U.S. parent.
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BC Council of Carpenters and Joiners President Len Embree or
Secretary-Treasurer Dave Flynn: 604-437-0471
March 25, 2002
BC union's parent promotes U.S. interests over Canada's
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America General President Doug McCarron is promoting American interests at the expense of Canada's economy, says Len Embree, president of the BC Council of Carpenters.
"United Brotherhood General President Doug McCarron is threatening Canadian jobs and industry by supporting US government policies on softwood lumber and oil and gas," Embree said. "Last year, McCarron announced his support for a 19.3 per cent countervailing duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports, a move that led to several mill closures and widespread unemployment. Now, McCarron has set his sights on the Canadian oil and gas industry."
At a meeting in December, U.S. President George Bush publicly enlisted McCarron's support to pressure Democrat Party allies in the US Senate who oppose a plan to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Bush's Wildlife Refuge proposal is designed to replace Canadian oil and gas with Alaskan resources. Canada is among the top three oil exporters to the U.S., and Canadian natural gas feeds about 16 per cent of U.S. demand. Competition from the Wildlife Refuge gas reserves will jeopardize future Canadian oil and gas mega-projects, put Canadian jobs at risk, and endanger Canada's Porcupine Caribou Herd, which uses the Wildlife Refuge for its calving grounds.
U.S. parent could win status as a BC trade union
Embree says the United Brotherhood wants to impose large regional councils in BC by merging locals, firing elected leaders and acquiring the right to negotiate collective agreements.
"Under BC law, the United Brotherhood does not have status as a trade union and can not negotiate contracts," Embree said. "Only by taking over locals can they get that power, and at the same time gain control of all financial assets including strike and pension funds."
"Doug McCarron turns union democracy upside down," says Embree. "Instead of union leaders being accountable to the membership, every member becomes accountable to Doug McCarron."
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Wednesday, May 2, 2001
AUTONOMY: PLAIN AND SIMPLE
Union Carpenters affirm their commitment to democracy
At the 58th Convention of the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters held in Vancouver, April 26 to 28, nearly 100 delegates and alternates from Local unions around the province resoundingly upheld recent efforts to wrest control of their organization away from the International Union in Washington, DC.
BC Provincial Council of Carpenters President Len Embree told the convention that a recent province-wide referendum of union members had demonstrated overwhelming support for Canadian autonomy.
"The convention," Embree explains, "certified that result. They voted to get on with it."
Embree adds, "The members are tired of seeing their dues used to pay the wages of some Washington bureaucrat."
The 9,000 strong BC Carpenters Union, in a provincial referendum ballot in March, voted 77 per cent in favour of achieving an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Carpenters that would result in their Provincial Council having:
(a) the authority to govern itself;
(b) the authority to hold property and assets in its own name;
(c) the authority to make laws and amend its Constitution without the approval of the International.
With over 4000 ballots mailed in, this is the largest response that any referendum question has ever received in the BC Carpenters Union.
According to Embree, the re-election of himself as President and Dave Flynn as Secretary-Treasurer, "clearly mandates the BC Provincial Council of Carpenters to carry on with its campaign to achieve autonomy and protect the democratic rights of the members to vote on the structure of their organization and the people who will represent them."
for more information, call:
Len Embree, President
David Flynn, Secretary-Treasurer
604 437-0471 fax 604 437-1110
Restructuring A Background
The concept of restructuring the Carpenters Union in British Columbia had been under discussion long before anyone heard of Douglas J. McCarron. In 1995 and early 1996, two major province-wide membership conferences concluded that the Union must change its structure and organizing strategies if we are to survive.
The April 1996 Provincial Convention struck a committee to review the structure of the BC Union. A special BC Provincial Council Executive Board meeting held in Kelowna later proposed several major restructuring initiatives. Shortly after, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners General President Doug McCarron advised the Council that a structure would be imposed from Washingtonno questions asked.
In November 1996, the Provincial Council first obtained a copy of the infamous 33 bylaws that McCarron was using to restructure the union throughout the United States. McCarrons new structure did not allow the members to vote on it, or their founding officers or delegates. The new structure controlled the locals finances and officers. There is no democracy in this structure.
The Provincial Council took the position that any new structure would have to be voted on by the BC membership. That membership has a long history of voting to validate amendments to its Provincial Council Constitution. Furthermore, the Provincial Council took the position that the founding officers of this new structure would have to be elected.
The Council cautioned the International that its practice of implementing a Council structure throughout North America could not apply here because it did not conform to BC law.
Despite many promises to "comply with the laws of British Columbia," and to consult with the membership," McCarrons record is abysmal.
He directed a merger in Northern BC without giving the members the right to vote on the proposed merger. He did not allow Vancouver Island members a vote on his proposed Vancouver Island Regional Council or local union mergers. In fact on July 7, 1999 he told the members at a meeting in Port Alberni to their faces that they would not get a vote. This meeting and his denial of the right to vote were videotaped for all to see.
A subsequent Labour Relations Board decision on February 17, 2000, established that under BC law the members do get the right to vote. McCarron was not impeded by this; he carried on to the next litigation at the Labour Relations Board on a similar matter.
McCarron has essentially blanketed North America with his vision of a new union structure. He is fond of saying that if this union was a corporation nobody would buy shares in it. This bold business union assertion reveals that without union democracy the organization is to become a Labour Ready organization for the contractor with few or no rights for members. This assertion of business unionism is strengthened by the fact that Mr. McCarron sits on the board of directors of the Perini Corporation, a large US-based construction company.
The members in the United States have revealed that they are not too happy with Mr. McCarron. There have been demonstrations by members in New York, Boston, Michigan, and elsewhere, protesting McCarrons regime.
In May of 1999 thousands of members walked off construction sites in San Francisco to protest their unions approval of a yellow -dog agreement with the employer (an ally of Perini Corp.). McCarron then expelled one of the walkout leaders from the Brotherhood for "resisting authority."
In 1996 McCarron sent more than 50 armed security guards to seize the New York Carpenters Union. This was ostensibly to clean out the mob connections. Just last fall, McCarrons number one man in New York City and several other Union representatives were charged with racketeering.
McCarron is fond of boasting in The Carpenter magazine how well the union is doing because of his restructuring. However, you are asked to just believe his assertions because there is no corroborating evidence that the union is succeeding. The International has even ceased publishing its internal directory of union locals and district councils.
In 1999, referendum ballots held at special called meetings around the province endorsed the Provincial Council as the official bargaining agent for Carpenters and affirmed that local union mergers must be ratified by membership votes. These votes passed by over 96 per cent.
The BC Carpenters convention in April, 2000, passed resolutions demanding a stand-alone constitution for the BC Provincial Council, and mandated autonomy from the International union.
Two referenda ballots this spring approved a new constitution for the Provincial Council that has no reference to the International, and demanded autonomy for BC Carpenters. These ballots had the highest return rate of any vote ever held by Carpenters in British Columbia.
In order to succeed, a union must have the support of its members. If the members have no rights then they are unlikely to support the unions efforts. If members have no right to vote in their union there can be no union.