"The views and opinions in this Blogspot are expressed by me in my capacity as an individual member and not in my capacity as a Union Officer. Likewise, comments by the other members on the Blogspot are individual expressions of their views. The views stated herein are not necessarily a reflection of Local 602. The Local has not seen or adopted my comments or the comments of others prior to posting. The Blogspot includes no expenditures of Union Funds."

Monday, December 7, 2009


Ours is a participatory democracy that takes some effort to make it work. It is your duty as a citizen to know the rules governing you right to cast a legitimate vote. It is also your duty to become informed on the offices and laws to be voted on in each and every election. Your right to vote was secured by the blood of our ancestors. Convicted felons and foreigners are prevented from voting. The rest of us are obligated to vote to preserve our freedoms.

There are elections scheduled in 2010 in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. These elections include Federal, State, County, and Local Races. Additionally, there are likely ballot resolutions concerning local, county, and state bond issues, state law and constitutional amendments. Oftentimes the ballot issues do more to secure or restrict our liberties than the politicians that are elected to protect our freedom do. Develop the resolve to cast an informed vote in 2010.

Throughout next year I will be writing a series of articles on the upcoming elections. My first effort here is to help get you to register properly. If you have changed your name, moved or have not voted in years, you should re-register. Most localities allow you to vote using your old address for one year. But you have plenty of time to register at your current address. Brother Bill Dukin can send you applications for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. We will also try to maintain some applications for West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Make the phone call, update your current address at the Hall and ask that we send you a voter registration form.

Listed below is the information needed to check on your current voter registration status and your proper polling place. Take this first step, check on your registration status and re-register if necessary. All of the Internet sites listed allow you to check your registration status and to download a voter registration form.

District of Columbia: Contact the District of Columbia Board of Elections & Ethics by way of the Internet at http://www.dcboee.org/ or by phone at 202-727-2525 (toll free at 1-866-DC VOTES).

Maryland: Contact the Maryland State Board of Elections by way of the Internet at http://www.elections.state.md.us/ or by phone at 410-269-2840 (toll free at 800-222-8683).

Virginia: Contact the Virginia State Board of Elections by way of the Internet at http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/ or by phone at 804-864-8901 (toll free at 800-552-9745).

West Virginia: Contact the Secretary of States offices by way of the Internet at http://www.sos.wv.gov/ or by phone at (304) 558-6000.

Pennsylvania: Contact the Pennsylvania Department of State by way of the Internet at http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt/community/home/13514 or by phone at 1-877-VOTESPA

There is also a National Mail Voter Registration Form available that will allow you to register in any state. It can be obtained by way of the Internet at http://www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.shtml. For further information on this option please contact the Federal Election Commission at (800) 424-9530.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Christmas Crime

How embarrassing, a major city mayor stands accused of misappropriating gift cards intended for the needy. Baltimore mayor, Sheila Dixon, may be totally disgraced for assuming that the unused gift cards were available for her personal use. She spent that was not her’s to spend, and that is a crime.

How does this happen? Well, it probably starts with poor accounting practices. It most likely has been going on year after year. Those that should have been paying attention just turned their heads and paid no attention to what was a crime.

Who keeps track in your organization? Is it a city or county council? Is it an executive board? Does the guilt reside only at the top? I don’t think so. The boss can only get away with what the accountants allow. The accountants are as guilty as the boss. They should also be charged in the crime.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Virginia Election Results

November 3, 2009 was not a good day for a majority of the Labor endorsed candidates. Our candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General all lost, so too did 9 of the twenty 24 endorsed candidates for the House of Delegates. Listed below are the fifteen Labor endorsed candidates who successfully earned a two-year term in the House of Delegates.

District 35 -- Mark Keam
District 36 -- Ken Plum
District 37 -- David Bulova
District 38 -- Kaye Kory
District 39 -- Vivian Watts
District 41 -- Dave Marsden
District 43 -- Mark Sickles
District 44 -- Scott Surovell
District 45 –- David Englin
District 46 -- Charniele Herring
District 47 -- Patrick Hope
District 48 -- Bob Brink
District 49 -- Adam Ebbin
District 52 -- Luke Torian
District 53 -- Jim Scott

Voter turnout (39.8%) was the lowest for a statewide election in 40 years. Half of the voters below the age of 30 who turned out in 2008 failed to vote in this election. African American and Latino turnout also dropped significantly. Whereas these two groups represented 30% of the vote in 2008, they represented only about 22%this year. The one group that did increase was those voters who were over the age of 60. It was reported that they turned out at twice the rate that they did in 2008.

Exit polls gauged the independent vote at 33% of the total vote. According to those same polls, ninety-one percent of those that considered themselves as Liberals voted for Creigh Deeds and the Democratic ticket. Ninety-one percent of those that considered themselves as Conservatives voted for Bob McDonnell and the Republican ticket. Those that considered themselves as Moderates split more evenly with 53% going for Deeds and 47% going for McDonnell. The exit polls revealed that 46% said that the state of the economy and jobs were their number one concern. Twenty-five percent listed health care as their number one concern. Fourteen percent listed taxes and six percent listed transportation as their number one concern.

Congratulations to all of the candidates. America grows stronger with every free election. Let’s hope that those that were successful in this election can work effectively to keep Virginia as one of the best-managed states in the country.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 2009 Journal Article

President, John P. Sullivan

Changing of the Guard

September 13, 2009 The 26th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention convened this afternoon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This first day of the convention included the opening ceremony and a fond farewell to the retiring AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Brother Sweeney served for four terms as president, capping over fifty years of service to the Labor Movement. The following includes material copied from the AFL-CIO website.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s Farewell Address

I’ve loved our labor movement all my life. There is no greater honor than the opportunity to serve working people, and the best thing about this job has been all of you. You are the magic of our movement, the source of my spirit and the iron will that moves us forward.

For us, solidarity is more than just a strategy; it’s a way of life. We believe in helping each other. We care about our brothers and sisters. Solidarity is what gives workers the collective courage to form a union, to fight back against a greedy employer.

Solidarity is what compelled thousands of first responders and construction workers to risk their lives at Ground Zero eight years ago last Friday. Solidarity is what saved 155 airline passengers who could have drowned in the icy waters of the Hudson River. Solidarity is what compels a firefighter to dive into an inferno to save a stranger, a teacher to refuse to give up on a child or back off from a battle with a school board.

Your solidarity is what pulled us through when our federation split apart—you cared more about our common purpose than your own self-interest—and proved that: “We are many, we are one.”

The Incoming President

Brother John Sweeney will be succeeded by the current AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Brother Richard L. Trumka. Born July 24, 1949, Trumka grew up in the Pennsylvania coalfields and became a third generation miner. He worked in the mines for more than seven years, working his way through Penn State and Villanova University Law School. After graduation Trumka worked on the legal staff of the Mine Workers for four years before returning to the mines in 1979. In 1982, Bro. Richard L. Trumka led a reform slate and was elected, at age 33, as the UMWA’s youngest president. He served for thirteen years before being elected as the AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer.

As president of the UMWA, Brother Trumka led one of the most successful strikes in American history against the Pittston Coal Co., which tried to avoid paying into an industry-wide health and pension fund. Breaking with decades of tradition, Trumka applied non-violence and civil disobedience tactics throughout the strike.

Brother Trumka mobilized international support by building alliances with miners in Australia, South Africa, Europe, Scandanavia and other countries to join the union’s fight. Trumka pioneered the use of strategic comprehensive campaigns by unions—building coalitions and alliances with other unions and nonprofit advocacy groups to strengthen the Mine Workers’ cause and reaching out to Wall Street investors. Ultimately, he overcame hundreds of millions in federal court-ordered fines against the union to win the Pittston Coal strike, and then doggedly appealed the fines until the U.S. Supreme Court finally overruled them.

I believe that we have been well served by Brother John Sweeney. I am confident that Brother Richard L. Trumka will prove to be one of the most forceful and imaginative presidents ever to lead the Labor Movement.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 602 Journal Article

President, John P. Sullivan

Just Say Whoa!

Every member of Local Union 602 needs to understand that they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that sets limits to the actions of his or her employer. Simply put, if the boss or his representative wants to institute a new policy or procedure it must either be defined in the existing contract or be submitted to the union for negotiations prior to its being implemented.

Under Section 8(a)5 of the National Labor Relations Act it is “an unfair labor practice for an employer to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 9(a) of this title. Our Union should press for a decision by the Labor Department every time an individual contractor tries to hammer out a separate agreement of any kind with members of Local 602.

Every member should also understand that they have no right or business agreeing to or signing any plan or policy that has not been subject to negotiations with the local union. You are not only negotiating for yourself but you are also giving in on time honored rights of every other working member. To do so subjects you to charges under our By-laws and Constitution. And right now that is what I am urging.

This may seem harsh but let’s look at the implications of the most recent firestorm in regards to our contract. You may think that you don’t need a morning or afternoon break. Heck, you may not think that you need to eat a lunch. But what about if you are “dead” wrong? And further, what about the results of your decision on the health and well being of all your working brothers and sisters?

Obesity and diabetes are the ticking time bombs in all of us. Some of the current medical research on the increase in these two afflictions is centering on our eating patterns. Our bodies today are essentially the same as our most distant ancestors. We are descended from hunter/gatherers. A big meal was the exception. The norm was eating a series of smaller meals throughout the day. Eating raises our blood sugar/glucose levels. Work and exercise lowers our blood sugar/glucose levels. In between the highs and lows are bodies are stressed to bring things back into balance. The ideal is to have a constant mid point metabolic level between the time we rise to the time we settle down and sleep. There is a growing number that believe that we should be ingesting five to six smaller meals a day with moderate work and exercise in between. Do that and moderate a few of your other bad habits and you may live to be a hundred years old in good health without all of those other “enhancements”.

Are we eating and working ourselves to a premature death? Probably. Should we be moderating our life styles to achieve better health? Most definitely. So how the hell does skipping meals and giving up breaks fit into all of this? You are killing yourself and worse, you are killing your union brothers and sisters. We don’t need fewer breaks; we need more, especially on ten and twelve hour shifts. Dang, I think that we have an issue for negotiations in 2010.

Hey Southland, look what you just started. Hey MCA, look at what your renegade contractor just started. If they are your stalking horse for 2010 you’ve made a big mistake. You just woke up every working member of the Local.

Here is my advice to all when approached by management to sign anything…JUST SAY WHOA! Put the message on your hardhat, write it on the wall, tattoo it into your pre-frontal lobes. Be “polite” and sign with the disclaimer, “Whoa, I am a member of Local 602 who is covered under a collective bargaining agreement. In regards to your request, I can not agree to violate that agreement”.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Approved Package

The meeting deciding on our wage distribution reaffirmed my belief that the membership can and will decide wisely when properly guided. It was a good meeting.

The Business Manager proposed a five cent per hour increase in the Medical Fund. He assured us that was all that was necessary to guarantee our current coverage and possibly lead us to be able to make some positive changes in our coverage. I thought that the number was low but I went along.

The BM proposal for the Pension Fund was to increase our contribution by fifty cents an hour. He assured us that no changes in our plan would be necessary if we went along with his recommendation. I know that our losses over the last year were significantly higher than could be covered by his recommended contribution. But again, I will wait and see if we were led properly.

The members balked at the BM's recommendation to put no further money into the RSP Fund at this time. They amended his proposal and added twenty cents to the contribution into our individual annuity fund.

The vote on increasing the Apprentice Fund contribution was contentious. The BM proposed an increase of fifty cents an hour. That was a proposed increase of over 135%; 3 Million more a year than what we had been budgeting. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that. What kind of spending is going on in the Apprentice School? Well it seems that the Coordinator and his many assistants have been granted a most generous package. Their deal now includes an inflated hourly wage, a second pension and a pickup truck. It appears that we are now paying them more than our Business Agents.

The members rebelled and cut the BM's proposal in half. Still, that adds up to an increase of 1.5 million a year. We need to follow up on this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Virginia Democratic Primary Results

Congratulations to State Senator Creigh Deeds in his victory in the Va. Governor's primary. He ran a good state-wide campaign and out polled each of his two opponents by nearly two to one.

Sen. Deeds ran for State Attorney General four years ago with labor's support. I expect that he will again seek our support in November.

On a sad note, it appears that my former Delegate from the 38th District, Bob Hull, lost his primary contest. With over 5,000 votes cast, he fell short by 66 votes. I hope that the 20-25 members of Local 602, which I contacted last week, took the time to vote.

Delegate Bob Hull was a strong backer of union issues during his eight terms in the Va. House of Delegates. We will miss his support.

Friday, June 5, 2009

From the UA Preamble

"Mankind generally condemns that which they do not thoroughly understand and through prejudice and ignorance neglect to pay that strict attention and regard to the principle of unity..."

In essence, ignorance leads to fear and prejudice, which then generates bigotry and hatred.

Free speech may be protected but hate speech is not.

It is one thing to to be infected by fear and to allow the toxins to enter your own heart. It is quite another to attempt to affect others by spewing venom and hostility to any and all that we are obligated to call our brothers and sisters.

The caustic comments uttered under "good and welfare" at our last meeting were way over the line and should be condemned.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reach out to others that need a Union

This post is designed to help us reach beyond our parochial interests. The Wal Mart workers need Union protection. Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers are involved in a nation-wide effort. Here is a link to a Facebook page to help you get involved with their efforts. If you scroll down the page you will find a previous link to a show involving a discussion of the Employee Free Choice Act and local Apprentice Programs. Local 602's efforts in apprentice training were included in the panel discussion. Ron did a pretty good job with very short notice.

There is a show this Sunday, June 7th, 6:30 PM that you can watch on cable if you live in or around Fairfax, Va. You can also watch it "live stream", via the Internet. The moderator would appreciate if you e-mail or call in comments or questions.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Aftermath of the Local Union Election

Congratulations to everyone that chose to run for office. No matter what was your platform or what was your results; you chose to step forward to strengthen our Local Union when others did not. You should be applauded for your efforts.

Congratulations to everyone that came out to vote in your Local Union election. The turnout was approximately 25%, the same as most past Local Union elections.

I once lost by 1 vote to be elected to the Executive Board. I was angry for about 24 hours and then reality tapped me on the shoulder. That one vote was there on election day. I personally failed to make a difference in their mind. That wasn't their fault, it was mine.

Our next election is two years away. We will vote for Delegates to the International Convention of the United Association in June, 2011. Before you throw everything out, I suggest that you take notes. What worked? What did not? Write down every person's name that you witnessed that voted before you forget. Be a better candidate next time. That applies to everyone who was successful or not.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Restrictions to E-Mail Addresses

I intended to post "ALL" candidate's e-mails but I need their permission to do so. I only have a handfull of individual candidate's e-mails addresses. I have asked everyone that I have been able to contact to help spread the word about this site. I've done what I can.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Contractors' Strategic Plan

I was the one that found that the contractors had established a "Strategic Plan", which raised concerns that they were looking into affecting our upcoming election. It is publicly posted on the MCA Website. http://www.mcamw.org/aboutus.php#strategicplan

Under STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES and then 2009 STRATEGIC PLAN you will find the following:

B. Through management’s legal counsel, we will clarify "management rights" during negotiations and union elections:

1. What can we communicate to workers during contract ratifications?
2. Can contractors give incentives to union employees to encourage them to vote in an election?
3. What can contractors do to encourage participation in union elections?

C. During 2008 –2009… At the end of the June 2009 election, suggest that the newly elected officers of 602 go to dinner with the 2009 Board of Directors and invite Local 5 officers to attend.

You could argue that the contractors have a right to plan for the next negotiations in 2010 but what the heck are they talking about when they bring up our Union election? Perhaps some candidates are comfortable with their language but your President is not.

John P. Sullivan

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rumor Control: Organizing the I-81 Corridor

There is a persistent rumor that the United Association ordered our Business Rep. and Organizer, Bill Durkin, to back off in his efforts to expand our work along the interstate I-81 corridor. I spoke personally to our UA International Rep., Brad Karbowsky, about the rumor this morning. No such thing ever happened.

In fact, UA International Rep. Mark McManus went with Bill for two days on a trip to view the commercial and industrial work that is up and down Route 81. Along the way, Mark got involved personally in convincing an owner to take a look at the local Unions and their affiliated contractors to do their work. He was successful and the UA’s marketshare was expanded. Contrary to the rumor, the UA is excited about Bill Durkin’s campaign.

Bill Durkin worked with Bob Engelbach, an organizer from the Maryland States Pipe Trades to help set up this campaign. The Baltimore, Cumberland, Richmond, and Roanoke local Unions were kept abreast of their progress. When a potential lead was located, the information was passed on through the appropriate channel.

Bill Durkin’s official title is Business Representative and Organizer. Our jurisdiction includes Winchester, Virginia. That is where the campaign began and it spread from there.

When our neighboring local unions are unable to man their work we send in our members. Bill Durkin’s efforts have led Boland Services, Carrier, Dominion, Kirlin, and HPS to bid work that had been previously surrendered to our non-union competition. Brother Bill Durkin’s hard work is entirely appropriate and he should be applauded for it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ron O'Bier's Endorsements

Ron lists two endorsements in his bid to unseat Kevin Sullivan as the Business Agent of Local 602. The first is Bernie Thornberg, the former Apprentice School Coordinator. The second is former Business Manager, Mickey Lucas. Let’s examine them one at a time. Some of this may appear as "ancient history" but it is applicable to our Union officers' election on Monday, June 1st at the Apprentice School. (12-6:30 PM).

Bernie knows full well that when the first Apprentice School Coordinator was hired in 1972, that it was fully understood that the Apprentice School had to function outside of the politics of the Local Union. Bernie also knows that James R. Sullivan, Kevin’s father, had to resign from his job as the Assistant Business Manager of Local 602 in order to become the first Coordinator. Bernie further knows that he had to resign as the Recording Secretary of Local 602 to become the second Apprentice School Coordinator in 1974. Bernie knows that I was asked to resign as President if I wanted to succeed him.

Unfortunately, the politics have been allowed to creep back in under the design of the current Coordinator, Ron O’Bier. Ron did not resign as the current Apprentice Coordinator in preparation for his bid for full time office. Nor did his assistants in order to run for Local 602 Business Representative and Organizer and the Recording Secretary of Local 602. All three of them believe that they have nothing to loose by running this time and every time thereafter. They all believe that they can go right on with their jobs at the Apprentice School without suffering any penalty.

On the second endorsement, Mickey Lucas, let us understand that Mickey has opposed every Sullivan that has run for office in Steamfitters Local 602. He opposed my father, James R. Sullivan. He opposed my brother, Kevin Sullivan. He has opposed me as President of Local 602. Mickey is continuing a one sided, nearly fifty year old, feud. You will have to ask him why he is still so bitter, after all these years.

Yes, Mickey was our former Business Manager. But you should know that he was driven out of office by the rank and file members when he betrayed us in the mid 80’s. He first tried to give back the second year raise to the contractors but the membership rebelled and he pulled back. Then he successfully gave back the last year’s raise. We lost a buck fifty an hour under his leadership. He was defeated when he ran again for Business Manager. Ron may be the only member desperate enough to win office to seek and then gain his endorsement.