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Union Talk: Mark Erlich's Winter Report Posted by on

In this episode of Union Talk, Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, gives a report on current issues and activity. Topics include membership numbers, work hours, training and the 2016 Dues Holiday. ‪

“Falls, broken bones, and death” – Callahan Subcontractor Fined $91,000 Posted by on

In a scathing press release issued on December 17, OSHA fined Force Corporation, a Woburn, MA carpentry subcontractor with ties to Callahan, Inc., $91,000 in what OSHA is calling an “imminent danger situation” on a roofing project in Andover, MA.

“These employees were one slip, trip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling fall,” said Anthony Covello, OSHA’s area director. “Even after the employees donned fall protection equipment, it was defective and inadequate at preventing falls. Force Corp.'s disregard of this safety requirement placed its employees at risk needlessly. This is unacceptable behavior that must change before a worker's life or career is destroyed.”

Force Corporation was the wood-frame subcontractor on Callahan’s Pinehills Independent Living project in Plymouth, and is rumored to be a candidate for the framing on Callahan’s Assembly Square project in Somerville.

In 2013, the company, which was then known as Twin Pines, was fined $290,700, also for willful and repeat fall hazards. “The sizable penalties proposed here reflect the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, plus this employer's knowledge of and refusal to correct them," said OSHA’s area director at the time.

Force Corp was also in the news (Boston Globe,11/26/15) recently for accusations of wage theft on the CATS academy project in Braintree, where workers have come forward to report that they did not receive proper overtime pay and did not have the proper taxes taken out of their paychecks.

This habitual disregard for worker safety is endemic to Callahan’s subcontractors. For more about Callahan, please visit

​Teaching more than carpentry skills Posted by on

Think you've been bringing the holiday spirit this year? Local 218's Cheryl Lieteau has set the bar pretty high.

Sister Lieteau, an instructor at the New England Carpenters Training Center in Millbury, just completed restoring Santa's sleigh! Ok, maybe it's not "THE" sleigh, but it's the one that's been a part of Millbury's Chain of Lights celebration for many years. The sleigh was in need of work, so the town of Millbury asked if the school could help.

Lieteau took up the project on her own time, with apprentices Christine Dufour, of Local 118, Brian Crowley of Local 33, and Darrell Pagnani of Local 67 helping out. The sleigh was taken apart entirely to determine what could be reused and what had to be recreated.

After six weeks, the sleigh was rebuilt and ready to go. It's firm and strong, but with the same charm it's had for years.

Lieteau says her interest in the project was that "it looked challenging and fun and I was hoping Santa wouldn't leave me a lump of coal this year."

With 25 years in the union, she's clearly proved she's up to the challenge. More importantly, she's sharing her skills with a grateful community and passing on her skills to the next generation of carpenters.

Erlich, Joyce named MA AFL-CIO VPs Posted by on

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters recently re-affiliated with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, for the first time since 2002. On December 10, NERCC's Mark Erlich and Steve Joyce were sworn in as Vice Presidents of the organization.

20k Call for Probe of Lead Handling by Brady Sullivan Posted by on

More Than 20,000 Signatures on Petition Calling for Environmental Agencies to Protect Families Exposed to Dangerously High Lead Levels

Organizations Deliver Petitions To Environmental Agencies Regarding Property Company That Redeveloped Mill Where Residents Were Exposed to Lead Levels More Than 600 Times Legal Limit

Washington, D.C. – More than 20,000 concerned citizens, including New England residents, today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agencies to take aggressive steps to investigate a company’s lead policies following an incident that left residents of a Manchester, N.H., building exposed to alarming levels of toxic lead dust earlier this year.

Today, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters delivered petition signatures from their members and supporters to EPA Region 1 staff and state environmental regulators, demanding that Brady Sullivan Properties, a large developer of residential and commercial property, be held accountable for exposing its residents to high lead dust levels in the Mill West complex in New Hampshire, a mixed-use building on the site of a former mill. In addition, the groups urged a thorough audit of all properties in the region owned or managed by Brady Sullivan to ensure that no other New England families are exposed to lead pollution where proper management could prevent the tragic health impacts associated with the dangerous neurotoxin.

New Hampshire Public Radio reported that the property was the site of the biggest known lead hazard in recent New England history. One spot tested showed a lead level more than 600 times the legal limit.

Brady Sullivan hired a contractor to sandblast lead paint off the walls of lower floors apartments – even as the upper part of the building was occupied by families, including children and a pregnant woman. The contractor did not have a proper permit to sandblast and its employees apparently lacked the proper training required.

Lead is a neurotoxin that causes permanent, irreversible brain damage. Any amount of lead in a child’s bloodstream is, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unsafe. Lead also is highly toxic for adults.

Tenants, mistrusting Brady Sullivan’s assurances that sandblasters were following protocol, tested for lead in and around several apartments. The tests – plus the revelation that the contractor lacked a proper city permit – resulted in the Manchester Health Department putting a stop to the sandblasting in May. The EPA has since issued an enforcement action to require Brady Sullivan to clean up the existing lead dust contamination.

“There’s no excuse for choosing to cut corners and put people’s health in jeopardy when sandblasting lead paint,” said Susan Harley, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “I hope state and federal regulators audit all of the Brady Sullivan properties. If corporations are found to be reckless and to have put families and workers in harm’s way, they must be held accountable.‎”

“Lead is one of the best-studied toxic chemicals, with a well-documented track record of damaging generations of exposed children,” said Cindy Luppi, New England director of Clean Water Action. “We hope that the Environmental Protection Agency takes aggressive enforcement actions in the wake of this senseless tragedy and that the audit of all Brady Sullivan properties moves forward to prevent other New England families from experiencing this kind of health trauma.”

“In Manchester and across New England, behind Brady Sullivan’s multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded projects are a lot of problems for the underpaid workers who build them and the taxpayers who pay for them. And now, sadly, the tenants at Mill West are exposed to the biggest known lead hazard in recent New England history,” said David Minasian, organizer for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.“The lead dust incident at Mill West is not surprising as Brady Sullivan’s business model is based on maximizing profits by hiring low-road contractors that cut corners to increase profits. Unfortunately this approach has endangered workers and now has put their tenants at risk.”

Though the EPA has issued a cleanup order, the organizations’ petition signers urged the EPA and state environmental regulators to undertake a full audit of Brady Sullivan’s many converted mill properties in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and levy appropriate fines against Brady Sullivan to hold it accountable and to ensure that no more of its residents or workers are exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

The full petition can be read here.

Erlich appointed to Advisory Board for Fed Reserve of Boston Posted by on

New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich has been appointed to the New England Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for 2016. NERCC represents nearly 19,000 carpenters in the six-state area. He is also the Chair of the New England Carpenter Benefit Funds with combined assets of $3.5 billion.

"Given the Federal Reserve Bank's impact on the economy of our region, I appreciate the opportunity to both learn and reflect the perspectives of working families in their policy discussions," said Erlich.

Erlich is a graduate of Columbia University and a 40-year member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. He is the author of two books and numerous articles which have been featured in local, regional and national media. He currently resides in Jamaica Plain.

More wage theft alleged on Callahan, Inc site Posted by on

More carpenters working on a site being managed by Callahan, Inc have come forward with complaints that they have been victims of wage theft. They continue a consistent and disturbing pattern that has led to protests at numerous Callahan sites across Eastern Massachusetts.

Last week, two carpenters completed statements against J Kerrissey, an open shop subcontractor to Callahan, working on the demolition of the old YMCA in Quincy. One of the workers says he is owed $3,300 in wages, the other is owed $1,600. Indications are that at least three other workers are in the same situation.

The site is adjacent to a new facility built by Callahan, which was the source of controversy and questions about building quality.

More than thirty union carpenters turned out to support the workers at a demonstration on Thursday. During the demonstration, the workers presented their complaints to the manager of the YMCA. Later, he returned and asked for the names and phone numbers of the workers so that he could follow up and provide assistance.

The workers will also speak to representatives of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey this week about their experience.

Funds introduce members to Carpenters Care space Posted by on

The New England Carpenters Benefit Funds held a holiday open house to show off its refreshed space and organization. The health and wellness services on the second floor of the Carpenters Center in Boston is now known as Carpenters Care. In one coordinated and expanded space, it includes the Vision Center, Iora Primary Care and the Carpenters Assistance Program.

More than 130 members and children attended the event, attracted by the prospect of prize drawings and a chance to meet Santa!

The event also included flu shots, audiology screenings and health information from attending vendors, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield MA, David Vision, Delta Dental, Hear USA, Iora Primary Care and KGA.

Visit for more information on benefit services, including Carpenters Care.

Congratulations to the following attendees, who won prize drawings.
Shane Devine, Local 40; 55” Samsung Flat Screen TV
Joel Rodriguez, Local 26; Samsung Galaxy Tablet
Gustavo Siguenza, Local 40; African Mahogany Adirondack Chair
Ederado Pedroza Galvan, Local 275; African Mahogany Adirondack Chair
Anhielo Gomez, Local 111; Dinner & Movie
Ellen Webber, NERCC; $100 Visa gift card
Jose Diaz, Local 2168; $25 AMEX gift card
Jose Chavez, Local 2168;$25 AMEX gift card
Michael Silvio, Local 33; $25 AMEX gift card
Michael Sullivan, Local 33; $25 Amazon gift card
David Primmer, Local 40; Fit Bit Zip
Stephen O’Toole, Local 67; Fit Bit Zip
Victor Valles, Local 67; Fit Bit Zip
Thomas Hernon, Local 218; Fit Bit Zip
Ramon Sanchez, Local 2168; Fit Bit Zip

Clinton, McCarron visit Boston Posted by on

Clinton, McCarron visit Boston
On Sunday afternoon over Thanksgiving weekend, 350 rank and file members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters came out to support Democratic Presidential Primary favorite Hillary Clinton, who was visiting Boston as part of a "Hard Hats for Hillary" event with Mayor Marty Walsh.

Joining members were UBC General President Doug McCarron, UBC General Secretary Andy Silins, UBC Second Vice President Frank Spencer, UBC Eastern District Vice President Mike Capelli, New England Regional Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich and other regional and local union leaders, who gathered at the Carpenters Center in Dorchester for an informational and discussion session.

McCarron spoke to members and answered questions at the Carpenters Center. He noted Hillary Clinton's strong campaign, her opposition to trade deals that hurt American workers and her support of economic policies that help the middle class. He also talked about the importance of the Supreme Court nominees that are expected to be made during the next president's term. Members took advantage of McCarron's visit to talk to him about not only political action, but their experience in the union.

Erlich spoke about the proud legacy of union carpenters in New England as strong campaigners who make a difference in elections.

Buses took the group to City Hall Plaza where more members had gathered. Chants of "Carpenters for Clinton" echoed off the historic walls of Faneuil Hall plaza as members marched together into the plaza prior to the event.
Pictures can be viewed in the NERCC Facebook page.

The NERCC is currently producing a video of the Clinton endorsement, using footage taken at Sunday’s event. Check NERCC Social Media pages for the video release coming soon.

See media coverage of Sunday’s endorsement event
online here