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Carpenters Call On de Blasio to Restore Cuts, Settle Contract

July 14, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco

Carpenters President Steve McInnis.

New York, NY - Already in danger of being in violation of two prior Restraining Orders, and facing an upcoming court date that could seriously tarnish Mayor Bill de Blasio’s legacy as a progressive, pro-union mayor — the New York City District of Council of Carpenters on Thursday called on Hizzoner to immediately restore workers’ vacation time and sick days - and return to the bargaining table to settle a fair contract. 

“We have the ability to cut a contract today,” NYC District Council of Carpenters President Steve McInnis said at a rally held at City Hall on Thursday. 

The Carpenters, whose 700 full-time civil service employees have been without a “fully executed contract” since 2008, and the City of New York are headed to court next week. At issue, is whether or not the city, in unilaterally reducing annuity and vacation time for civil service carpenters, violated the Taylor Law through the Triborough Doctrine. In addition to also violating Labor Law 220 Prevailing Wage, as well as two Temporary Restraining Orders precluding the civil service cuts. 

Backed by the Municipal Labor Council, New York City Central Labor Council, Building and Construction Trades Council, numerous City Council Members and other trade unionists, Joseph Geiger, executive secretary-treasurer for the Carpenters, challenged Mayor de Blasio for allegedly “targeting” civil service carpenters for shabby treatment. 

City Carpenters have lost vacation time & sick days.

“Have you just shown every future mayor how to cut benefits for all of our teachers, police officers, fireman and housing authority employees?” Geiger said from the City Hall steps. “If you lose [the upcoming court case], how will you explain being the first mayor held in contempt of court for taking away middle class New Yorker’s benefits? My request to mayor de Blasio is simple; restore my members benefits now, and let’s get back to the bargaining table and let’s close this contract soon.”

Marvin Holland, political and legislative director for TWU Local 100, and candidate for NYC Council representing the 9th District, called the de Blasio administration’s treatment of civil service carpenters incomprehensible. 

“It’s insane, Holland told LaborPress. “Ninety-nine-percent of the union workers in the city are now under contract.  I don’t know why they’re doing this to these 700 workers. I really don’t.”

Most of the city’s municipal union workers have received 10-percent raises over seven years, along with a $1,000 bonus for ratifying their contracts. 

Bill Lacey, the Carpenters’ director of Civil Service Affairs, suggested that the de Blasio administration’s treatment of the Carpenters might stem from the process the union has sought to finally get a deal. 

The Carpenters' Joseph Geiger.

“It’s anti-union, anti-labor retaliation for us using the process that is available to us and that’s owed through the Comptroller’s Office,” Lacey told LaborPress. “It’s the same thing as the cops going to PERB [Public Employees Relations Board]. The only thing that I can tell you that we and the city agree upon, is that the old process takes a long time. But at the same time, we go without raises for seven or eight years waiting for the process to play out.”

McInnis rejected the notion that the Carpenters somehow “opted” to pursue a course that has led to the elimination of vacation time and sick days.  

“We didn’t opt for anything,” McInnis said. “They opted to violate the [Taylor Law through the] Triborough Decision as told by two judges.”

The Mayor’s Office has not yet responded to requests for comment. 

 

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