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No decision announced yet in carpenters’ union merger discussion

March 9th, 2011 by Rachel Pritchett

Readers,

No one’s in a talkative mood.
But I’ve learned that Peninsula Carpenters Local 1597 is still in existence, at least as of Wednesday.
Local 1597 leaders joined those from 10 other locals in the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters on Feb. 26 in SeaTac to listen to what their future might look like with some mergers.
The 11 locals are part of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, an affiliate of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC), which called the meeting.
The UBC has merged locals all over the country in recent years as part of a streamlining effort, most recently in Oregon.
After the SeaTac meeting, representatives of locals were given time to write letters to the union suggesting how any possible mergers might occur, or why they shouldn’t occur.
Dave Mounce of Bremerton, a member of Local 470 in Tacoma, said he was upset that the general membership had no voice at SeaTac. Only the invited members of the locals’ executive boards were allowed to attend.
He suspects that in the end, the 11 locals might be consolidated down to two or three, probably along the I-5 corridor and on the Eastside. Under a merger scenario, a likely partner for Local 1597 might be Tacoma 470, Mounce said.
No one at the regional council would return my calls asking for comment.
Ownership of the carpenters’ hall on Fifth Street in Bremerton would go to the UBC, along with some assets of other merged locals, according to the charters of these very old unions. Local 1597 began in 1914.
That doesn’t sit well with some carpenters.
“I want to know where that money’s going, because it’s our money,” Mounce said.
Others say that was always the understanding.
A decision could be come in a month or so.
Local 1597 has 347 active members.

— Rachel Pritchett

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2 Responses to “No decision announced yet in carpenters’ union merger discussion”

  1. Garry Says:

    Imagine being an employee of a corporation that has decided to sell all its shares to the employees of the corporation. Afterwards you and other employees vote to merge with another, much larger, corporation because you’ve been told the new, larger, company will have much greater job security. But, there’s a catch: after the merger, all the stock of the new, larger, company will be owned by the original owners of the company with whom you are merging. Not fair? That’s what is happening to rank and file members of local 1597. They built their hall, invested in the local operation and have faithfully worked to represent their brothers and sisters in collective bargaining in the private sector. Now, the regional union is stepping in and confiscating the assets of the local – all with a promise of a more secure and “efficient” operation. But who becomes the owner of the building and the cash reserves of the local? The regional office – and not a single rank and file member will ever enjoy the benefits of their initial investment. Why is this happening? Because the UBCJCA (the national union) and the regional (PNWRCC) apparently need that money to fund something. Think it might be more political donations? Could it be needed to shore up the Carpenter’s Trust fund? Try finding out. You’ll find only the FBI has any chance of figuring out where and to whom the money is going. Unlike public corporations, who are regulated by the SEC, there is no regulating authority overseeing the operations of America’s private sector unions. When they break the law, it’s too late for anyone to recover their losses. It’s already too late for the rank and file of 1597. Their only hope is a good attorney and a class action suit against their own executive committee members who sold them all down the river.

  2. Not2day Says:

    Nicely put. What is “ours” is never really “ours” when you put control in the hands of greedy political bureaucrats. When “Ma Government” and “Pa Union” get together, it can prove a disastrous marriage for workers and citizens. The only way the rank and file members can survive, is by doing what they have not done for much to long. Unite. Ask yourself the question, when promises turn into long unemployment lines, who should you really believe? The promise makers or the promise keepers?

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