The Voice of the Rank & File

Number 24

February 1999

Published by
Laborers for Justice & Democracy
1601 Ocean Avenue, #346
San Francisco, CA 94112

VP's Organizing Scheme:

A New Way To Rob The Members?

We are faced with the brutal fact that 80% of the construction work in California is being done non union, because the building trades leadership have failed to do their job. Years of neglect, "One Job Agreements" and leaders who are afraid to get out on the job site, has created this terrible situation. Now we have to organize or die. Organizing cost money. The next question is where do we get the money?

Certain International Vice Presidents are proposing that a nickel an hour should be taken out of every members paycheck to pay for organizing. They are talking about five cents an hour on top of the heavy union dues our members are already paying. We think this is a new form of robbery.

It is time for the international to give back some of the millions they are wasting on six figure salaries, outrageous expense accounts, junkets to resorts they pretend are union work trips, etc., etc.

LIUNA says it has 600,000 members, all of whom pay per capita dues to the international. The working members pay $10 a month and the retirees pay $5 a month, per capita dues (in addition to local dues.) This money is collected by the local and sent to the international office.

We propose that the international earmark one dollar per month of this money for organizing. That would be $600,000 a month, over $7 million every. The Laborers International Union would be able to mount massive organizing drivers with this kind of money. We fully support the idea of an organizing program but feel its time for the International Union to pay their share and not tax the members even more for their past failures.

We just paid $20 million for a "clean up program" that left Arthur Coia and Max Warren in office at over a half million dollars a year. Why should the rank & file, who pay for everything, be ripped off again for an organizing program? That is what union dues should be used for--not to pay outrageous salaries and put somebody's dead beat relatives on the payroll.

Local 270 Learns About Amy Dean

On election night 1997, members of Local 270 were planning to picket the Santa Clara Labor Council to bring attention to the corrupt and undemocratic practices being perpetrated against the members by Max Warren and his appointed "Supervisor", Ken Casarez.

These members were approached by Amy Dean, head of the Labor Council, who begged them not to picket. Dean promised them that in return she would write a letter to Local 270 inquiring about the members accusations.

But Amy Dan never wrote the letter she had promised.

A few weeks later the same Local 270 members brought their signs to picket the San Jose City Council meeting where the Council voted in the Livable Wage Law. They handed out a flyer supporting the Livable Wage Law and explaining their problem at Local 270.

Again, The Central Labor Council wanted them to leave, but none of them had the balls to come and ask. Instead they sent John Neece from the building trades to deliver the message. Neece was very fair and said "I can't tell you to leave-this is America and you have rights. I am just doing what the Labor Council asked."

Amy Dean was also at the Council meeting but refused to speak to the members of Local 270 when she arrived. Laborers for Justice and Democracy called Ms. Dean's office several time, but she has not returned our calls.

Rank & File Should Ratify Collective Bargaining Agreements

Throughout the world, members of unions routinely vote on collective bargaining agreements that control their workplace destiny. Do you?

Under the current L.I.U.N.A. Constitutional provision (see provision below) regarding Bargaining-- there is nothing that prohibits you from being given the right to vote on your collective bargaining agreement.

Article XI of the Uniform District Council Constitution gives certain rights to the negotiating committee and the District Council delegates. However, nothing prohibits the negotiating committee and delegates from waiving their right under Article XI and presenting a proposed contract to the members to obtain ratification.

Since nothing prohibits membership ratification, shouldn't you demand the opportunity to ratify your contract?

Ask your delegate to the District Council to request the Negotiating Committee to put the proposed contract to all the members affiliated with the District Council for a secret ballot ratification vote. Express yourself self, not only as regards negotiations for a successor Agreement, but in the future, demand a commitment from persons from your local union running for delegate to the District Council that they provide you an opportunity to vote on Collective Bargaining Agreements.

No collective bargaining agreement and no-side agreements with management(except grievance settlements that affect only the individual member who filed the grievance) should be valid unless it has been ratified by a secret ballot vote of the affected members. Voting on collective bargaining agreements, mail ballots or in-person, must be conducted in such a manner that guarantees the principle of one member, one vote. Proposed changes should be in writing and members should have sufficient time to review and discuss the proposals before the vote.

In the year 200l when you nominate and elect delegates to the 22nd Convention for the Laborers' International Union of North America. Demand their support for a revision of the Constitution as regards Bargaining. Compare the revised version below with the current provision.

The revised version guarantees you the right to vote on future Collective Bargaining Agreements. Considering how long it has been since you last voted on your own workplace destiny. Isn't it about time to make your voice heard and demand that the Rank and File ratify Laborers' Collective Bargaining Agreements?

For more information regarding this issue please contact:

Ron Nobili-Business Manager

Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO
Local 665
269 Federal Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06606-5296

Phone: (203)-335-7943
Fax: (203) 335-1261

Office Hours: Monday thru Friday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon EST

The Right to Ratified the Contract Is Fundamental.
Revised Version

Proposed Constutional Language To Require Membership Vote on All Contracts




Bargaining shall be conducted by a Negotiating Committee appointed by the District Council. The Business Manager of the Council shall be the chairman ex-officio In the composition of the Negotiating Committee the District Council shall give due regard to representation from all the affected Local Unions. Prior to negotiations the Local Unions which shall be affected thereby shall submit to the District council their bargaining proposals. The Business Manager and the Negotiating Committee of the Council, after consultation with all the affected Local Unions, shall cause the preparation of the District Council's agreement proposals. During the course of negotiations the Business Manager shall keep all the affected Local Unions advised of the progress of negotiations.

If agreement is reached by the Committee, it shall require ratification by a secret ballot vote of all the affected members affiliated with the Council. Where a Local Union negotiates an agreement and thereby serves as the District Council's Negotiating Committee, that agreement shall require ratification by a secret ballot vote of all the affected members affiliated with the council like all other agreements negotiated by the Council under this Article.

Ratification of all collective bargaining agreements shall be done by mail ballots, in-person or any combination thereof that guarantees each affected member his right to a secret ballot vote. Changes in the bargaining agreement to be ratified shall be in writing and members shall have no less than 5 working days to review and discuss the bargaining agreement before casting their ballot.

If the delegates to the Council have given the Negotiating committee the authority to call a strike in the event agreement is not reached, the Negotiating Committee shall be authorized to call a strike only after all affected members affiliated with the Council by secret ballot vote have sanctioned the strike authorization of the delegates to the Council. In all other cases, where the Negotiating Committee has not reached an agreement, strike sanctions can only be authorized by secret ballot vote of the all affected members affiliated with the Council.

Voice of the Rank & File is published by the Laborers for Justice and Democracy<. We are dedicated to winning justice and true democracy for all members of the Laborers International Union of North America, working within the parameters of the LIUNA constitution. If you have an article or other useful information for the members of our Union please mail it to us at:

Laborers for Justice and Democracy
1601 Ocean Ave #346
San Francisco, CA 94112

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