RALLY!!! 9AM Thursday, July 19, at 1633 Broadway
MWA Arbitration Ruling - Contractors Cut Benefits by $27.94
Manufacturing Woodworkers Association (MWA) signatory contractors have unilaterally cut the benefit rate of NYC District Council of Carpenters shop workers and outside installers to $10.94 per hour! Instead of bargaining in good faith to resolve an arbitration dispute-- displaying unbridled contempt for loyal employees-- MWA President Anthony Rizzo (owner of Rimi Woodcraft,) instructed association contractors to cut the hourly fringe benefit rates of ALL shop employees, and outside installers, to $10.94!
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Just days before the August 5, 2009 arrest of District Council EST Michael Forde, Vice President Denis Sheil, acting without authority, negotiated and signed a specialty agreement on behalf of the DC with Gilbert Displays, Inc. The contract sets a minimum rate for journeymen employees of $21.00 per hour in wages, and $10.94 per hour for each hour worked, capped at 40 hours a week, of total fringe benefits. (The MWA contract rate calls for $27.13 wages and $15.97 benefits for shop workers, and $44.02 wages and $38.88 benefits for outside installers per hour.)
The MWA filed an arbitration claim, and a hearing was held on March 16, 2012 at the offices of the American Arbitration Association, 1633 Broadway, in NYC. On May 3, 2012, the arbitrator (Rosemary A. Townley) agreed with the MWA's position that it should have received the Gilbert rate from August 1, 2009, forward.
The MWA has now not only claimed that it is entitled to a refund of tens of millions of dollars paid to the Benefit Funds, but last month it cut the benefit rate paid on all employees to the $10.94 per hour Gilbert benefit rate.
RESPONSE FROM THE DISTRICT COUNCIL
When questioned at a delegate meeting on June 27, Bilello said: "We are discussing and exploring legal options and strategies which I will not detail tonight." Bilello also said he "will not shut down any MWA jobs, and will continue to negotiate an agreement with the understanding we will not negotiate a wage and benefit rate that is less then our standard contract."
A hearing is scheduled before the arbitrator on Thursday, July 19. An informed source reports the Council will "dispute the arbitrator's decision," present questions involving the calculation of "damages" caused to MWA employers by the Gilbert agreement, with an opportunity to demonstrate the terrible effect of the arbitrator's decision on the membership, and possibly have her resolve them.
The source also said the Benefit Funds have filed an action in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
Contact your elected leaders and shop stewards, demand answers and information regarding the MWA action. Notify your business representative immediately if proper wage and benefits are not being paid, and file a grievance against the MWA contractor. If you can, avoid working for any MWA contractor. If you are currently working for an MWA contractor, refuse to work any overtime; this will force MWA contractors to sub the work out to non MWA contractors, who pay the proper wage and benefit rates.
Contact the MWA, and signatory contractors-- Rimi Woodcraft, Nordic, EMI, Midhattan, Tobin Woodworking, Somerville, Island Architectural, and others, like Miller-Blaker-- demand they immediately cease attacking their employees!
* Meet with affected Carpenters and show your support, in front of the American Arbitration Association offices, 1633 Broadway (between 50th & 51st Streets,) at 9AM Thursday, July 19, before the hearing.
For more info, visit: http://local157.blogspot.com/