By Al Barbarino
A group of 700 city dock workers voted today to stick with the New York City District Council of Carpenters instead of joining Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union, a competing union with alleged mob ties.
“Today, New York City Dock Builders have made a clear choice to remain affiliated with the New York City and Vicinity District Council Carpenters,” said District Council leader Michael Bilello, in a statement released just after the votes were tallied. “We had faith in their prudence that was in the best interest of themselves and their families.
“They refused to be misled by false promises of those that have proven in the past that they cannot be trusted. Our members have rejected corruption,” he added.
A representative for the District Council put the count at 361 to 186, though the official results of the vote had not yet been released.
“I’m extremely happy,” said Ivan Schweikert, 45, a 27-year veteran with the Dock Builders who voted for the District Council. “We did a lot of legwork to get the vote to turn out this way. Everybody was well-informed of the issues and as concerned as I was. I was fairly confident that it would go this way.”
Bilello had portrayed Amalgamated as a group trying to escape federal regulations after they were “weeded out” of a system that was plagued by years of corruption. He and Dennis M. Walsh, a federal review officer put in place in 2010 to monitor the trouble District Council, contended that the dock builders stood to lose their health benefits and pensions if they sided with Amalgamated.
“These are people who were players in this organization who were removed or vetoed from their positions or resigned based on findings of corruption on their part,” Bilello said earlier this week. “Corruption and the mob won’t be tolerated.”
Walsh was installed by the courts in June 2010 to monitor the 25,000-member District Council after a racketeering scandal rocked the District Council in 2009, when several senior officials were arrested for breaking the terms of a 1994 Consent Decree against racketeering.
“The result demonstrates the well-reasoned judgment of the great majority of those who voted,” Walsh said. “It is a victory for common sense and I believe is an endorsement of the solidity and reliability of the reformed District Council. I will be following any additional efforts of the Amalgamated principals very closely and will enforce the Consent Decree in every situation where Amalgamated might represent past or present members of the District Council.”
Angelo R. Bisceglie Jr., an attorney and founding leader of Amalgamated Carpenters, fired back at the allegations made by Bilello and Walsh in an exclusive interview with Real Estate Weekly this week, calling the claims of his mob ties “ridiculous” and defending the reputations of those at the helm of his union’s leadership.
“Give me a break,” Bisceglie said. “Contrary to what the District Council is spinning out there, we are not a mobbed-up union at all. They have me labeled as this mob attorney, which is total crap, and I want to set the record straight.”
Bisceglie wasn’t available for comment following the vote.
“The fight is not over, but with this vote our members have delivered a tremendous blow to the criminal elements that are seeking to obstruct our progress forward,” Bilello added. “We will continue to use the democratic process to strengthen and reform our organization. Now, more than ever, we proudly stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”
The dock builders and members of the NYC District Council of Carpenters build and maintain city docks and also do underpinning, pile driving and foundation work on projects like the massive Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.