WASHINGTON (Press Associates Union News) – Ending a long split, the Carpenters will reaffiliate with the AFL-CIO on Dec. 1, according to a memo to local councils from Federation Building and Construction Trades Department President Edward C. Sullivan.

Details of the terms of re-affiliation will be released a few days after its actual occurrence, a department spokeswoman says, but it follows major changes, approved Oct. 17, in how the building trades unions will handle jurisdictional disputes.

Jurisdictional problems were one reason Carpenters President Douglas McCarron cited for his union’s withdrawal in March 2000. The AFL-CIO formally ejected the Carpenters, but talks continued.

McCarron also demanded other changes: Firing Sullivan and BCTD Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Maloney; converting the BCTD presidency to a part-time position and abolishing Maloney’s post; greater power for the department’s administrative committee of its five largest unions; and weighted voting on all issues.

McCarron also questioned the benefits his union got from the $4 million per year the Carpenters sent to the AFL-CIO. And he charged the federation spent too little on organizing.

While the jurisdictional issue was settled, the others were ‘tabled,’ Operating Engineers President Frank Hanley told Press Associates in a telephone interview. ‘They’ve been all put to the side – tabled is the best word,’ he explained.

‘But this will be wonderful for the building trades,’ Hanley added. ‘They’re a very important union, have an important craft, a lot of money and respect of the contractors’ that construction unions work with, he elaborated. Carpenters officials did not return calls seeking comment on the reaffiliation.

A key development was the Building Trades rewrite of rules for handling jurisdictional disputes. ‘The plan for settlement of disputes in the construction industry needs to be modernized to take into account actual conditions in the industry,’ McCarron said in a Feb. 21 letter to Sullivan.

That rewrite is the first since 1984. It says ‘area practice’ will be ‘a major determining factor in dispute resolution’ when two construction unions claim the rights to represent the same group of workers at a job site. Until now, ‘decisions of record’ governed jurisdictional disputes, and Sullivan said some of those ‘dating back to the 1900s’ were used to solve present disputes ‘and may not be relevant to today’s construction industry.’ Now, decisions of record will be used, but a challenging union may cite area practice in trying to overturn them.

Withdrawal of the Carpenters on the national level deprived the AFL-CIO of membership that federation per capita records put at 324,000, but which McCarron says is 525,000.

But on the local level, the Carpenters continued to cooperate with other building trades unions in political action and project labor agreements – though McCarron said his union, and labor as a whole, should have better relations with the GOP.

Thus San Francisco Building Trades Council President Larry Mazzola told his annual meeting that there ‘must be better resolution of jurisdictional disputes’ and thanked his members for voting on their own to re-affiliate the local Carpenters.

And Ironworkers President Joe Hunt said in a statement to Press Associates that McCarron now ‘recognizes we need every craft in the building trades standing shoulder-to-shoulder in these difficult times, on the job, in the political arena or organizing the unorganized.’

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