"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."

Sunday, October 24, 2010


1) It is a 3-year contract. The MCA rejected our proposal for a 1-year contract. They insisted on a 3-year proposal. The middle ground is a 2-year contract. Good faith bargaining should have found this middle ground before we received this proposal.

2) Minimum contract language changes were agreed upon. We got tangled up over wage rates and stopped negotiating over necessary issues. A number of issues proposed by our Brothers and Sisters were cast aside early in negotiations. Chief among those is time and a half pay for our wage and benefit package. If we accept this contract we can not revisit this issue until 2013. As we struggle to meet future funding levels for our pension and medical benefits this issue will haunt us.

3) The MCA wanted arbitration. The body rejected arbitration. The Local Union does not need to surrender their right to collectively bargaining and neither does the MCA. Why would either side admit that they are so inept that they can not find further common ground? We have agreed to a 1st year wage rate. What prevented us from agreeing to a 2nd and if necessary, a 3rd year wage rate? It is time for the MCA to stop pouting about the 2007 negotiations. My advice to both sides is simple, put this proposal away and settle the wage differences. Man up and agree that we can reach a reasonable and equitable solution for the remaining years.

4) Arbitration means that strangers will settle our contract. Those that would argue that the IRC is a jury of our peers ignore several major points. The Union and contractor representatives on the IRC don’t live or shop in our metropolitan area. Our cost of living is different than theirs. We are a Union of Steamfitters. Their world is one where the plumbers and fitters are combined. Further, none of them pay the servicemen the same rate as the plumber or fitter. They pay their servicemen at a lower rate. Our servicemen will be taking a huge step backwards to a bygone era.

5) June 1st deadline for arbitration is an artificial date that only benefits the MCA. This is an open invite for the MCA to drag their feet as they did this year. I have not found anyone who can tell me when we ever concluded negotiations two months prior to the end of a contract. This unrealistic date is a guarantee that the next two years will be settled through arbitration. Go to our Union website and look where we were on June 29, 2010. It will shock you how far apart we were at that time. Worse yet it allows the contractors to cause dissension in our Union just prior to our elections on June 6, 2011 and June 4, 2012. If there were a complete turnover of our full time officers in 2012, we would have rookies leading us into arbitration. Think about it. Don’t be na├»ve and think that they would not turn their heads and let a dissident group do their dirty work on company time. It has happened in the past. It is happening right now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apples and Orangutans

I have spent this evening trying desperately to understand the Union members that would sit in judgement if we go to arbitration under the IRC. There is only so much that you can find out about them and their Local Unions on the Internet. Only one of the four had locals with public web pages that gave me any insight. In search of secondary resources on the web, the picture of our potential judges doesn’t fill me with any confidence that we would be judged by a jury of our peers. None of their locals compare well to ours. They are either plumbers’ unions or combined locals that have split scales. Servicemen suffer under their “organizations”. At best, they suckle on a hind teat.

Our history includes a period when there was a Steamfitters Local Union 602 and a Local Union 602A. We were once a split Union with separate officers and separate pay scales. Local Union 602 A represented the servicemen. They were limited in their overtime pay to time and a half when the other half received double time. They were also paid at a lower pay scale.

Our nonsense ended in the 50’s at an International Convention when the Canadian Unions protested the seating of the delegation from Washington D.C. The Canadians objected to the fact that no representatives from the service side were present. When the gavel came down to settle their protest we were made whole. From that day forward there was only one Union in Washington, D.C., Steamfitters Local Union 602, which was charged with fully representing construction, service, and metal tradesmen. Thank God for the Canadians.

The fact that the practice of split Unions and split scales continues to exist in our industry is a problem that the UA must grapple with. If they had followed our lead and insisted that their locals developed their service industry as we have, our International would be a greater presence in the market.

We are unique in more than one way from all of the Local Unions whose experience and traditions could cloud their judgements on our contract. In most instances all of us would likely argue that there must be “apples and apples” compared. Hell, at this late date, some of us would accept “apples and oranges”. However, “Apples and Orangutans” is unacceptable. I will vote against any contract that contains this particular from of arbitration.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Let’s not kid ourselves. Selecting June 1st as the deadline for instigating arbitration is not accidental; neither is it incidental or lacking of political consequence. The UA Constitution obligates us to hold our General Election of Officers once every three years. Our Union elections are presently scheduled for the first Monday in June. We have a National Convention Delegate election scheduled for Monday, June 6, 2011. We have a General Election of Officers scheduled for Monday, June 4, 2012.

I shot a flare into the air about the MCA 2009 Strategic Plan in a blog post on May 27, 2009. I believed then that the contractors were sneaking into the back door of our 2009 election with ill intent. This is what was posted then on the MCA website:

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.

By the way, your officers were never invited to sit down and break bread. Maybe the MCA didn’t get what they wanted in 2009. However, to their credit, they have kept on target and now have the CAUSE to achieve their desired AFFECT. Maybe they will get what they want in 2011 and 2012. What would be more pleasing for their side than to have a new set of officers elected to pull together our case for arbitration? Green, unseasoned, how good of an arbitration case could they make?

Mark my words. There is little incentive for the contractors to reach an agreement with our Local Union prior to June 1st. When have they ever done that in the past?

Brothers and Sisters if you accept the proposed contract you will likely surrender your right to ratify a contract in year two and year three. Further you will politicize our negotiations beyond anything we ever found acceptable in the past. And further you could assist in presenting the weakest arguments in front of the arbitrators.

This is a train wreck in the making and you have your hand on the switch-gear. I suggest that you might want to put this proposal on a sidetrack.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On the Question of Agitation

My recent blog and Facebook posts have been applauded by some and called into question by others. I am embarrassed by both sentiments because they are based on the wish that my views should agree with those of the reader.

My goal over the past several months has been to cause those that would read my posts to consider a subject of controversy, our stalled negotiations, in a critical manner. I hoped to provoke further debate and cause a change in course through dissent and political agitation.

I have stated from the first offer of a 10% paycut to the last offer that the contractors’ proposals were ridiculous. By the use of the word I signaled that their offers were to be the subject of ridicule. I employed words, essays, songs, and political cartoons to make that point over and over again. I am satisfied with my endeavor.

For those that believe that I or any member that posted should have been more restrained I would suggest that you review your American history. Quiet diplomacy rarely has succeeded in causing change in our country.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”
Frederick Douglass (Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave 1817-1895)

To the contrary, our political and social progress has always been propelled by political essays, editorials, cartoons, satire, song and direct action. Our freedom was not secured, our slaves were not freed, and a myriad of social causes were not achieved through polite political discourse.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” Frederick Douglass (American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave 1817-1895)

Both sides moved forward tonight. A tentative agreement was reached and a strike was averted. The members of the Union must still ratify the terms of the agreement. There is still much to be debated.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On The Question of Retroactive Pay

We have worked for nearly 10 weeks at last year’s wages. A just and fair settlement has to take retroactive pay under consideration. As this point is debated we need to make clear to our members that negotiations have been interrupted twice for weeks at a time at the request of the MCA. On one of those occasions, the request was made so one of the negotiators could go to Hawaii for several weeks to check on his properties.

We have members that are barely able to maintain rent payments or make their mortgage payments on the only home that they may ever own. I personally will have a difficult time asking any member of Local 602 to ratify a final agreement that does not include retroactive pay.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


In an earlier post I thanked the individual members of the MCA negotiating team for radicalizing the current generation of Steamfitters. They have one more opportunity to change their course but I fear that they won’t. They seem hell bent on making the same mistake that the MCA did when I was a much younger man.

We have not had a strike since 1975. Thirty-five years is a long time. Those of us that were directly affected by the strike vowed to never forget the strike and the impact that it had on our lives. We have not. We are now in the process of teaching our younger members what we learned back then.

I sympathize with the members who are confused and frightened about the prospect of a looming strike. Many of them have not experienced hard times by any traditional measure of the term. Some have never been out of work since they joined the Union.

Pay raises have come to be expected as a natural consequence of just showing up day in and day out. The Union took care of the rest year by year. That is exactly what we thought back in 1975.

Let the first lesson learned in this conflict be that there are no guarantees in life inside or outside of the Union. We are all challenged spiritually and financially when unforeseen complications enter our life. We should always be prepared for the future, but few ever are. We did not expect the 1975 strike. We were caught off guard when negotiations took the wierd turn that it did this year.

I was a first year apprentice working for Carrier in 1975. My salary was better than what I had been paid as a public school teacher but I was still living pay check by pay check. I had no savings. I was unprepared to pay a portion of my salary into a strike fund. That was no one’s fault by my own. I was raised better than that.

My father was a Local 602 Steamfitter. He and my mom raised seven kids. My parents didn’t have credit cards. In fact there was no credit of any kind for construction workers. They had to pay cash for food, clothing, and shelter. The closest thing to credit was “lay away”. You could buy something by placing a down payment and making monthly payments. You got to take home what you had purchased only after making all of the payments.

They taught us all well but we soon forgot the lesson. The one-dollar an hour payment into the strike fund taxed me. It was probably 20% of my salary as a first year apprentice. But I survived and so can you.

No matter what transpires this week let’s go forward with a commitment from this encounter with reality. There are no guarantees in life. We need a strike fund inside of our Union. We need another personal strike or emergency fund outside of our Union.


October 8, 2010

RE: Update on Negotiations

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Now that a strike is becoming more and more likely, I wanted to share with you how we got to this point and what it will take to avoid a strike.

The employers opened up negotiations four months ago with proposals to cut wages by more than $5.50 an hour and freezing wages at that level for three years. There has been much jockeying back and forth and posturing by the MCA but the employers were steadfast on two points. They wanted a three or four year contract. They also refused to budge from a package of $1.50 over two years. Initially, they offered $.55for year one followed by a $.95 cent increase. Later, they flipped those numbers to offer $.95 for year one and $.55 for year two. The MCA has never made a specific offer for the third year of the contract.

The employers have justified their position by pointing to the distressed economy and their fear for the future. The Local has countered by saying that the Washington Metropolitan Area has fared better than any other construction market. We also pointed out that the Steamfitters have weathered the economic down turn better than any other craft in the area. The hours for Local 602 have been essentially flat and unemployment has been relatively low. By comparison, other crafts have experienced unemployment levels as high as thirty per cent. Local 602’s success and the success of ur contractors is no accident. Local 602 has become the premier service local in the country, and Local 602 contractors have successfully maintained their hold in the construction sector. The industry has benefited by a superb training program, which is expanding into Virginia. Local 602 has also aggressively engaged in organizing, signing new contractors, marketing the industry and recruiting new members. As a consequence, Local 602 has been one of the fastest growing locals in the country. To be fair, this success has not been ours alone. We have benefited by contractors willing to rise to the challenge and grow the market. Our membership and signatory contractors have prospered together.

The contractors are mired in negativity. They also appeared to be anchored in the past in their determination to tie us in with the Plumbers. They have been fixated in keeping Local 602 to the same 2-year package that they secured from the Plumbers. We are reluctant to criticize the Plumbers in any way. They are our UA brothers and we wish them well. However, it would be wrong to overlook the fact that the Plumbers package for $1.50 over 2 years was not the result of robust bargaining. Rather, from all reports, the Plumbers got exactly what they asked for. The Steamfitters are situated differently and we deserve to be treated differently. It is no secret that the Plumbers had unemployment spike to as high as 30% over the past year. It is also common knowledge, as admitted by the MCA negotiators, that for various reasons the profit margins on plumbing jobs are razor slim. But we are not Plumbers. Far from it. The fixation by the MCA to join us at the hip with the Plumbers is folly and represents a fundamental obstacle to a new agreement.

The Pipefitters in other cities with straight line Locals separate fitter and plumbing locals in a locality) have been awarded higher wages. This is not the result of jealousy or one upmanship. Rather, this reflects the inescapable reality that fitters generate more income and their contractors have a greater market share than their Plumber counterparts.

Local 602 has shown forbearance in the face of the employer’s intransigence. We allowed the contract to expire without a general strike and patiently continued good faith negotiations. We filed election petitions with the NLRB to demonstrate our continued support and won each election overwhelmingly. We instituted one-day spot strikes to try to get the MCA to realize the seriousness of the situation.

We went further. Faced with continual carping from the employers that prior contracts had been turned down by the membership, the Local took the unprecedented step to pre‐ratify a 3 year agreement providing for $1.25 in year one, $1.50 in year 2, and a mechanism whereby the third year increase would be calculated by reference to the increase negotiated by the four Crafts with the highest total economic package in the area. We have presented this pre‐ratified proposal to the MCA to demonstrate that we have a proposal that has been thoroughly debated and then approved by the membership. This pre-ratified proposal was also sent out to all contractors on an individual basis as an interim agreement, inviting all that would sign to do so in order to insulate themselves from any strike that might ensue.

Lest the Local’s continued efforts to secure a contract be confused with weakness, the Local has taken parallel steps to demonstrate its fortitude and willingness to engage in a General strike if the employers respond to bargaining efforts. These steps have included:

1. Obtaining authorization for the membership to engage in a strike.

2. The cancellation of the Cause Agreement, which contained a no, strike clause.

3. The transfer of $500,000.00 from the general fund to a strike fund.

4. The passage of an assessment to commence October 13, 2010 of $2.00 for every straight time hour worked and $4.00 an hour for every overtime hour worked so that those who continue to work for employers who are not struck because they are subject to a PLA, or a UA National Agreement, an Interim Agreement or that are not struck because of a strategic judgment of the Local will contribute to the effort. This will allow the Local to replenish the strike fund and share the burden of a strike.

Where do we go from here and how can a strike be avoided? The answer lies with the MCA. They can accept our pre‐ratified offer, which is the quickest, surest and best avenue to secure labor peace. Or, in the alternative they can make a serious counter‐offer that beaks the unwise pattern bargaining approach adopted by the MCA and offers an agreement that is fair to both sides and capable of ratification. We have reached a critical juncture, a defining moment. We have agreed to meet with the MCA on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 and will be prepared to negotiate as long as it takes, all day and into the night, to reach an acceptable agreement. If such an agreement is reached, a strike will not be called pending further ratification if necessary.

One more thing. Expect dirty tricks, intimidation, threats and every ploy imaginable by the contractors to try to break your resolve. They cannot help themselves. We are fighting the good fight. I know that the membership will stand united, will not flinch and will prevail.


Joseph C. Savia, Sr. Business Manager/Financial Secretary/Treasurer
Daniel W. Loveless Assistant Business Manager
William Durkin Organizer/Business Representative
Kevin Sullivan Business Agent

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Our Last Offer and The Vote To Establish A Strike Fund

Our vote last Wednesday evening to settle the contract was OUR LAST OFFER. We have drawn a line in the sand. We have compromised all that we can. We can go no further. No mas…No more.

The rest is up to all of the contractors, those who are members of the MCA and those that have chosen to remain independent of their actions. Either they agree to settle or they entice us to strike in a traditional manner. There is no alternative.

We believe that the negotiating team representing the MCA has been irresponsible from the beginning. Their initial offer of a 10% cut was ridiculous. Their second offer of a convoluted plan that would have us working five years from now at our current rate was further insulting. Every offer beyond that has been found to be woefully lacking and rejected by the membership of Local 602.

We have put up with a pout from the MCA negotiators about their failures in the 2007 negotiations for far too long. When the MCA negotiators can’t separate the personal from the professional it is time that those that who would favor good will over ill will to take charge or seek an independent solution.

We have shown a level of restraint that has stressed our Union to its limit. We have avoided hitting every contractor and every job that we could have. We have been brought to the edge of an internal rebellion. All of our sensibilities have been ignored. We will go no further. OUR LAST OFFER is OUR FINAL OFFER.

The countdown has begun. The Business Manager has committed to the Executive Board, the general officers, and the membership that we will strike each and every contractor that does not accept OUR FINAL OFFER. That is how he got the positive vote on your proposal. He can’t drag his feet because we are committed to holding them to the fire.

Any national contractor or any independent contractor that agrees to our proposal will be spared from the direct affects of a strike action. However, they should understand that their Union workers will reach into their pockets to support the members that are forced by the MCA’s to strike. They will have angry workers before we have angry members. I promise you that they will be educated as to why they are made to reach into their pockets. The promise is that it will get ugly in short order.

We will work to the rule where we must but we will do everything that we can to end anything beyond that. Job deadlines and resulting damages are no longer our worry. Their relationship with the general contractor is no longer our concern.

We have already committed a half million dollars to support our members who actively strike. We will supplement what we must with an assessment to all working members. Our members are obligated by our Constitution and ByLaws to pay their assessments before they pay their dues. If they fail to keep up their additional payment for their dues they will be forced out of the Union and loose their medical and pension benefits.

The contractors can pack the hall with bootlick lackies, apologists, and company men to continue to undermine our future votes but that does not matter now. We remain committed by our Constitution and ByLaws to support our General Fund. It is what supports our continued existence.

If the General Fund is drawn down we will shed what office staff and materials that are necessary. We will cancel all future picnics, golf outings, charitable contributions, etc. We will constrict as is necessary. If we must, we will. Each time that we do so we will remind our members who is responsible for our plight.

There is nothing more sacred than our General Fund and that includes the Apprentice Fund. We would arguably collapse our effort in expanding into Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. We might have to cut the number of coordinators and reduce teacher salaries. We would most likely stop all our expensive public relations recruitment efforts.

Most members don’t understand our expenses but they will before we force them to reach into their pockets to further to prop up the General Fund. All budgets will be laid bare. All will suffer if this is taken to the next level. My advice first to all independents and then to the members of the MCA, settle this strike now. You have our FINAL OFFER, accept it or suffer the consequences. I promise both sides of this impasse that if we are made to peal back the layers of the stinking onion, further tears will be shed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Our latest offer to the contractors went beyond all that was justified by the members’ straw votes and resolutions at the Special Called Meetings. It was rejected. They have drawn back to their proposal of a multi-year contract with few concessions and an offer of 55 cents an hour for the first year, 95 cents for the second year, and a third year to be yet decided. We have been left with a choice to surrender or the alternative, to fight on for a just resolution.

The contractors’ negotiators have backed us up against the wall and they want to have at us further. This is akin to RAPE and I will not have any of this. I have counseled the members to have patience. I have counseled the members to show restraint. Given their bitch slap, I withdraw my counsel.

Any member of Steamfitters Local Union 602 that would vote to accept either offer from the opposite sides of the table needs to understand that they do so at their own peril. We have moved lower and lower with each offer and each and every one of our proposals have been rejected. There is no guarantee that they will accept any vote by our members. That includes any vote scheduled on the 29th.

This is not by accident; this is by design. The MCA has broken the spine of the Plumbers. Our backbone has always been stronger. That is why they continue with the lash. This is why they continue the beating. Feel the pain, bear the beating, and smile at those that want to break you. Look them in the eye and laugh at them. Tell them to read the rule again for their measure falls short. We are STEAMFITTERS.

I’ll grant you that there are those that will seek the shelter of surrender. They will ask for quarter. You can join them and accept the contractors’ proposal but understand that this will guarantee that they will continue to beat you further and further into the ground if not now, then later. Look at the record. I’ve heard the reports each month. They have denied our members our negotiated holidays. They have denied us our break times. They have fired, sorry, “laid off”, our shop stewards and conscientious members that have called the Hall to report violations of the contract. Our grievance procedure is a joke. There is no job security now. There will be less in the future if you surrender now.

Our contractor’s association have us just where they want us, divided and at each other’s throat. Foolishly we have gone along with their design. Once our contractors have broken the Fitter the other contractors associations will go after the Electrician, the Elevator Constructors, the Sheetmetal Man, the Boilermaker, Bricklayer, Mason, Painter, Plasterer, Insulator, and Laborer. All of them will have to negotiate after us. If we are broken, so too, will they.

It is now time to put our differences aside. We either agree that we will be the laughing stock of the Building Trades or we will once again be a proud leader in their midst. It is time to ask which side are you on. Are you a Union Brother or Sister or are you a company snitch, bitch, or scab? Will you stand shoulder to shoulder with your Brothers & Sisters or will you quit the Union and accept their offer?

Keep in mind that you will surrender your Annuity and/or reach into your pocket to fund our Pension and Medical Fund. We have legal obligations that have to be met. We have no choice in these matters.

Forget the Apprentice Fund, if you accept the contractors’ offer you will sacrifice the future of our Local for your immediate needs. There is not enough being offered to protect our investment in our Apprentice system. As I see it, we can’t meet our obligations to our site in Virginia. We can’t support our current number of Apprentice Coordinators. We will have to cut back on the number of teachers and/or the salary that they are paid.

That is not only our question. It is also a question to every working member involved with the Building Trades. Spread the word on your job site. Educate the other Trades. Let them understand that “An Injury To One Is An Injury To All”. If we can’t support our Pension. Medical, and Apprentice Funds with our settlement, can they expect to do so with their next contract? Convince them that it is in their best interest to honor our actions whether sanctioned or not. Our fight now is their battle tomorrow. If they break us, they will turn on them next. We have been bitched slapped. So too will they.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Our members have rejected the previous offer of a multi-year contract. We have rejected arbitration. And yet, the same proposal keeps getting laid on the table.

The members have asked for a one year contract with a fair offer of a raise to cover our pension, medical and apprentice funds needs and to put some change in our pockets. We believe that we have acted in a restrained manner and continued to work under the terms of an expired contract. We are confused about the entrenched stance of the MCA negotiators.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day 2010 Message

I have been researching our Union roots through the Library of Congress for some time. Unfortunately the coverage of Labor concerns in the newspapers starts in the mid-1890’s. I know that our legacy extends back to the 1880’s but I have found references that we may have even earlier roots as part of the Knights of Labor. We were known as the Hot Water & Steam Fitters Local Union 10 in both the National and International Associations of the same name in the 1890’s.

The earliest references that I could find on Local Union 10 strikes date back to 1898 and 1900. Despite legislation passed to establish an eight-hour workday in the District of Columbia, our ancestors had to strike to establish a common practice of an eight-hour/day, six-day workweek in 1898. The strike may have lasted a year before the practice was accepted on all of D.C. construction job sites. Rest assured that we held strong and help to establish the eight-hour work day for the rest of the building trades. Such is our legacy. We are leaders in the building trades.

The newspaper coverage of our 1900 strike was more inclusive. We struck to establish the National Association average wage scale of $3.50/day for fitters in DC. We were working for $.50/day less than that when we struck in July.

The reaction by the contractors was immediate and it was harsh. The Master Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association released the following statements to the public:

“We recognize no union of either fitters or helpers.”
“Our scale of wages will be such as to suit ourselves.”

Predictions on the length of the strike stretched from a few weeks to months. Some believed that it would last until the following spring. Letters were sent to the National Association of Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association asking for their support. They pledged both moral and financial support and further warned that a national strike could result if our contract was not settled. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Either recognize the Fitters and their Helpers and negotiate a fair contract or face the possibility that sympathy strikes would be called in other major cities.

Days stretched into weeks before there was movement. Our ancestors met daily and took a roll call vote to assure that no one was crossing the line. With shame and dishonor some crossed the line but the great majority held strong. Individual owners began to break rank with their association and agreed to sign interim agreements within the first two weeks. By the end of July there was a tentative agreement with the association.

The men returned to work on August 1, 1900 with most issues settled. They eventually received half of what they struck for. Keep in mind that equalled an 8.33% increase in their wages. Couple that with the wage and hour victories from the 1898 actions, our ancestors successfully struck twice in 3 years to increase their wages by nearly 10% while reducing their hours by over 10%.

But the more important aspect of the 1898 and 1900 strikes was that The Master Steam & Hot Water Fitters Association did indeed:

“Recognize a Union of Fitters and a Union of Helpers.”
“Agree that the scale of wages will be a matter of proper negotiations.”

Take solace for we do not march alone. There are a host of ghosts that walk amongst us. They stood tall and struck 110 years ago so that we would have the right to take up the challenge in our lifetime. It is up to us to continue their legacy.

The MCA continues to push for arbitration now and in future negotiations. We have rejected it. The MCA continues to push for a multi-year contract. We have rejected that. The challenge remains…we must continue our strike until they recognize our collective bargaining rights and agree that our wages and all of our working conditions are a matter of proper negotiations.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In Support of a Strike Fund

Surely we can pledge to avoid strikes but I will never recommend that we give up our right to call a strike. In the same regard, I stand against any suggestion of arbitration to end our current impasse. To do so would reward the contractors for their outrageous proposals and their subsequent foot dragging.

Some would have you believe that strikes are archaic, an ancient practice of Unions that is outdated. Perhaps general strikes, where everyone walks off the job, are but a whisper from our past, but targeted, strategic strike actions are the new arrows in Labor Unions’ quiver. Rest assured we will take certain aim and use them wisely.

We did not win our War of Independence by marching in rank and file against the British following classical tactics and rules of war. In fact, we lost every battle when that was our strategy. We beat the Brits with unorthodox methods employed by rebel leaders that honed their military skills on the frontier. Ambush, hit and then run, employ snipers, take out the scouts, guides and then officers in that order, conserve resources, execute a planned retreat, and regroup to fight another day…this is how we won before and it is how we will win once again.

We can not call a general strike because we are bound by national contracts. We can not let food spoil. We can not let health facilities fail. We are committed to support our national defense facilities. The list of exceptions is longer but none of this means that we are powerless in an exercise of a selective strike. We can, as the Patriots did, employ hit and run tactics, conserve resources, execute a planned retreat, and regroup to fight another day. But keep in mind, all of this will require discipline and Solidarity.

Our Local Union stands to be divided because of national contracts and all of the exceptions every time we face a breakdown in negotiations. If we plan a strike action, some would continue to work 40 hours and limit their overtime. Some would be asked to walk the picket lines. Some would continue to support the Pension, Medical, and Apprentice Funds while those that are idle would not. Some would receive a regular paycheck and some would face uncertainty.

The contractors know all of this and are planning their strategy accordingly. We must adjust our strategy and plan accordingly. They want to involve us in their chess game. I’m sorry but I think it wise that we respectfully reject their invite. We are going to continue to play checkers.

How can the membership, in the spirit of Solidarity, fairly and equally share in the burdens placed upon the Union during a strike? One of the simple answers is that we can establish and maintain a Strike Fund, as an ongoing account, held within our General Fund.

There were preliminary discussions at this week’s Executive Board meeting and at the meeting of the Officers of the Local Union on establishing a Local Union Strike Fund. I expect a resolution vote to be offered to the members in attendance at Monday’s Special Called Meeting of the Local Union to affirm a call for a Strike Fund. If affirmed, I will call for a Special Order of Business to be considered at our Regular Meeting of the Local Union on September 7th to help formalize this fund.

Keep this in mind when you vote, no matter which side of the national contractor divide you are now on. Where do you think that you will be a year from now, one contract from now, ten years from now, multiple contracts from now? Life offers very few guarantees except that there will be change. I’ve been on both sides of the divide through the years and I expect that you may find yourselves trading sides at times during your career.

Keep the faith. Keep your powder dry. Maintain discipline and act when called to do so. As long as we act in Solidarity we will remain a Union that is so much stronger than anyone of us. The lyrics of the Union hymn are old but well worth repeating…

“The boss don't listen when one guy squawks, but he's gotta listen when the Union talks.”

Monday, August 23, 2010


Our Local Union Bylaws, the U.A. Constitution, and National Labor Law govern all of our official actions. In regards to our current situation, we need to be aware that any proposed contract must be ratified by the membership before it can signed by our representatives. The pertinent language can be found on page 7 of the Local Union Bylaws under Article III, Section 3, Paragraph (c)(3):

"The Conciliation Committee will only be able to sign an agreement between Local 602 and the Mechanical Contractor Association after they receive a majority vote from the body of the Local at a special called meeting. And prior to the special called meeting, the membership will have received a copy of any changes in the final agreement in time to read it before they vote on it."

Given the fluid nature of negotiations, I will continue to interpret that the last sentence allows for a printed copy of all changes proposed in our contract to be made available to every member in attendance at the time and place of our special called meeting. It is my opinion that any variance from this Bylaw and principle is open to challenge at the special called meeting, subject to charges, and subject to suit in court.

The next question that often comes up is who is entitled to vote on the proposed contract. The U.A. Constitution limits both debate and vote on any motion to journeyman and retired members. The U.A. Constitution (Sec. 148 b) limits the participation of apprentices in the following manner:

“…they will be entitled to attend meetings of such Local Unions but without voice or vote except where this is necessary to comply with federal, state and/or provincial laws.”

A question is often asked about whether a member who has a financial stake in one of our contractors’ businesses is entitled to vote. I can not find anything in our Bylaws or in the U.A. Constitution to prevent them from voting on a contract. However, I believe that they should think twice before they do so. I believe that the U.A. Constitution and National Labor Law restricts “owners” and “employers” from voting in a Union election. I would think it wise that they consult their attorneys about the legal impact of their voting on our contract.

The last question that must be addressed is whether a retiree is entitled to vote on a contract. The U.A. Constitution addresses the right of “members” of a Local Union. There is no distinction between active and retired members.

I would further add, God bless the retiree who would want to stay active and involved in the Local Union. They have paid their dues. They have put in their hours to build up our wages and benefits to where they are today. They probably also struck for wages that go into our paycheck each and every week. I know that my father did.

It is in my father’s spirit that I carry on, along with my brother Kevin, the business of this Local Union. I know that he would be incensed about the contractors’ call for cutting our wages and benefits. I remain confident that, if he were alive today, he would stand in Solidarity with his two sons. Yes, he would counsel us to be patient, to act rationally and with a purpose. No, he would not let us take a step backwards. I would welcome his wisdom and support his vote.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Since I have not changed the header on this Blog since I designed it over a year ago, what part of “AN UNOFFICIAL DISCUSSION OF MATTERS CONCERNING THE MEMBERS OF LOCAL 602” was or is confusing to any officer or member of Local 602 or for that matter, any member of the general society? I purposely chose to avoid any confusion in the design. I did not use the logo of either the Local Union or the International. I have never stated that my comments were in any way an official representation of Local 602’s view. And of course, this free blog has never impacted on the resources of the Local Union.

With that said, it is my understanding that a discussion of this Blog was part of the contract deliberation this week. I find this very disheartening. I would rather have heard that the contractor representatives would have involved themselves in serious and fruitful negotiations.

We are still stuck at a wage proposal by the contractors that would not cover the projected needs of our Pension, Medical, and Apprentice Training Funds. They are still insisting that we either cut our take home pay or take money out of our Annuity Fund. I will take the liberty to explain that our Business Manager has said publicly that we will not go backwards.

The members have rejected the wage proposal. They have authorized the Business Manager to call a strike. In a straw vote they have signaled their desire for a one year agreement with an offer of between two and three dollars an hour and have rejected a consideration of arbitration.

It is time to stop this silly dance and get back to negotiating a fair contract. That is and remains a JUST CAUSE.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The question of the economic costs involved with any labor strike is a legitimate concern that must be fairly weighed. If the measure is only in the short term, the results are certain. No one, not the worker or the employer will benefit.

Few modern day strikes are called for just monetary matters; for it would be unprincipled to do so. Our current situation calls for a greater understanding. Yes, we have reached this troubled position with a wage impasse in the forefront of the discussion but our concern runs much deeper than a few pennies here and a few pennies there.

The MCA negotiators, without providing economic proof of their position, proposed slashing our current wage and benefit package by $5.50/hour. Their modified proposal was just as ridiculous. They wanted us to work for the next 5 years with cuts and slight additions that would essentially equal a 0% increase in our wage and benefit package. Their final offer of an average increase of less than 1.5% per year is ludicrous and was rejected by our membership because it would not even cover the expected rise in the cost of our Funds.

It should be clearly understood that the contractors know our future financial obligations to the Pension, Medical, and Apprentice Funds. They also know that these obligations are not ours alone. They have a serious financial stake in the fiscal soundness of our Pension Fund and have committed to share in the cost of our Apprentice and Journeyman Training Programs. They also know that our Medical Fund will be directly impacted by the Federal Health Care Reforms.

Yes, the national economy continues to waver but our area remains more robust than just about any locality in the country. Yes, some of our members have worked fewer overtime hours. Yes, some of our shops avoided layoffs by working reduced hours in 2009. Yes, we have witnessed a rise in unemployment but our less than 5% rate is far below the national average.

I understand the impact of unemployment. I was laid off for several months in 2009. It was an especially difficult year for many Union households. However, it should be understood that our total man-hours have remained at or above the 2007 numbers.

Even though we have suffered through difficult times our Union has made the ongoing commitment to provide our contractors with the best-trained workforce in the nation. Our membership has continued to rise through organizing and through the Apprentice program throughout the lean years and times of plenty. It is a tribute to our organizers, officers, apprentice coordinators, and teachers that we have done so in the past and remain committed to do so in the future. We have grown by hundreds since 2007 and we have potentially added another 150 men and women with our incoming apprentice class. We expect to do so, or more, well into the future. Organizing and modern training has been the secret of our success throughout our history in the United Association.

The MCA has continually urged us to expand our Apprentice and Journeyman Training Programs. Prior to our last contract, we built a modern welding shop in Landover. Since then, they asked us to expand our training facilities into Virginia and we have done so. During this last contract we renovated and purchased a school site in Northern Virginia. The contractors have contributed approximately 5% to cover the cost of this last expansion but the lion share of all apprentice and journeyman training continues to come out of our pockets, not theirs. We now spend millions to guarantee their success and we expect that they would appreciate our ongoing commitment.

The MCA negotiators have suggested that we could pull money out of our contributions to the Annuity Fund to meet our future obligations to the Pension, Medical, Apprentice and Journeyman Training Funds. We have categorically rejected this proposal. We will continue to do so no matter where this leads. We will not borrow against our individual members’ current and future savings to give ourselves a raise.

Let me conclude this article with a lesson learned from my Steamfitter father. Any man that would take money out of your pocket would just as soon take food out all of our children’s mouths, take clothes of their backs, and deny them shelter, medicine, and a decent education. Once that is done, they will then make you a burden to your family. I believe that this sums up our position.

The Strike of 2010, if there is one, will have little to do about any one of our own personal situations. It will, however, have everything to do about our collective responsibilities to our larger Union family. An injury to one is an injury to all. We will remain united and in support of one another. We are a Union and we are in Solidarity to a just CAUSE.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The only mention that I find of CAUSE in our contract is on page 2 of the Communication & Productivity Trust Fund document, which explains that, the C & P Fund supports the cost of CAUSE. Every working member is TAXED four cents an hour to support the C & P Fund, which, in turn, funds CAUSE. That adds up to over a quarter million dollars a year. That's some pretty expensive rope that we've purchased and then chosen to tie ourselves up with.

Now, let’s read on further. It says that the funding of CAUSE continues for as long as “that Program remains in being”. Hmmm! I wonder how long is that? Oh, wow, look at this on page 7, of the C & P Fund tab…“This (C & P) Trust may be terminated when there is no longer in force a collective bargaining agreement requiring payments into the Fund”.

With great sadness I must announce the first casualty of the Battle of 2010. CAUSE’s sugar daddy stepped on a landmine at midnight, July 31, 2010. It is rumored that when the dust settled the Rebels yelled out their battle cry…


An autopsy will be performed when an armistice is declared. A top to bottom financial audit should be part of the examination. We need to know how, when and where our three quarters of a million dollars TAX (collected since 2007) was used. Perhaps it would have been better spent, as Brother J. D. suggested, to stock our armory, by establishing a STRIKE FUND.

Friday, May 14, 2010


May 2010

A good Union brother recently asked me if I thought that all workers should be organized. My answer was yes. It does not matter what label you put on a worker. He or she may be unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled craftsman, professional, etc., but as long as there are working rules and disputes over just pay, benefits, and working conditions, there is a need for a union.

Throughout the history of the US labor movement there has been an ongoing attempt to restrict union organizing and collective bargaining. Typically this has led to excluding various sectors of the workforce. Usually, arguments are offered that unions and collective bargaining would result in a break down of societal order and the rule of law.

This theory has been resurrected under a new guise, “homeland security”. The argument now is that organized workers can not be trusted to act professionally while we are in the midst of an emergency. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) is the new spokesman for this line. He leads the attack against the efforts to organize the workers of the Transportation Security Agency. He keeps hammering away with statements that end with, “but what if we are under attack?” and “what if there is an emergency?”. Shamefully, he fails to acknowledge the heroic actions of Union members when we were under attack and when we were in the midst of an emergency. Let’s look at the record of just three events.

Three hundred forty three union firefighters, 23 union police officers, and 37 union Port Authority workers died on September 11, 2001. They did not pause to contact their shop steward or check their contracts. They rushed to the scene and offered the ultimate sacrifice. How many more union workers will die as a result of their professional actions? The toxic fires continued for 99 days. Over 1.5 million tons of contaminated debris was removed from the scene. Only time will tell how many union members ultimately fell victim to the attack.

And then there was US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. On that day, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his crew turned an Airbus 320 into a 70-ton glider, which was safely landed on the Hudson River. Capt. Sullenberger, First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, Flight Attendants Doreen Walsh, Sheila Dail, Donna Dent, and Air Traffic Controller, Patrick Harten worked professionally as a team to save the lives of 150 air travelers. They were all Union members. So too, were all of the fireboat, tug, and ferry crews that rushed to the sinking plane. They were members of the Seafarers Union, Firefighters Union and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Later the same year we had a terrorist action at Fort Hood. Thirteen were killed and 28 were wounded before Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was stopped by a civilian Department of Defense police officer. Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a 5-foot tall mother, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse”, tracked down the shooter and engaged him in a gun battle at close range. She was shot through her wrist and in both legs but continued firing until Hasan went down. Sgt. Munley is a member of the American Federation of Government Employees.

In these three events there is a common thread, heroic professionalism. All these union members performed as they had been trained. Their union cards and contracts did not interfere with their performance “under fire”. The extended list of organized security workers currently “under contract” now includes agents within the FBI, Air Marshall Service, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs. Surely, we can add Transportation Security Agency workers to this trusted list.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It is with great sadness that I write this column. Of the six workers who died as a result of the explosion at the Middletown, Connecticut Power Plant, four were members of United Association. Three of our brothers worked out of Connecticut Local Union 777. The fourth worked out of Boston Local Union 537. In their memory, I ask that you read some of what has been written about these four men. They were all more than just workers.

Kenneth Haskell, age 37, a resident of New Durham, New Hampshire and a member of UA LU 537 was a superintendent at the jobsite. It has been reported that he was attempting to monitor the accumulated gas levels with the safety manager Chris Walters when the blast occurred. Walters died at the site. Bro. Haskell was airlifted to the Hartford Hospital, where he spent days on life support in the intensive care unit before he died. It was reported in one newspaper account that, Ken Haskell was involved with community service in his hometown. He was "very kind and caring," said Dawn Lamontagne, a neighbor. He loved snowmobiling and riding motorcycles with his wife, Lisa.”

Peter "Pete" C. Chepulis, age 48, was the husband of Dyann "De" (Beveridge) Chepulis. He was born May 3, 1961, in Waterbury, son of Mildred (Skerstonas) Chepulis of Thomaston and the late George B. Chepulis. Raised in the Brooklyn section of Waterbury, he was a graduate of St. Joseph's Grammar School and Kaynor Technical High School. He was a member of UA Local 777, the Thomaston Fish and Game Club and the NRA. His passions were bird hunting with his Springer Spaniels, riding his Harleys, competing in wood chopping competitions at the local fairs, good food, cooking and traveling.

In addition to his wife, and his mother, he is survived by his stepdaughter, Alicia G. Beveridge of Southington; a brother, James T. Chepulis and his wife, Pam, of Thomaston; a nephew, Stephen J. Chepulis; and a great-nephew, Jason S. Chepulis. Memorial contributions may be made in Pete's name to the Animal Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 538, Thomaston 06787.

Raymond E. Dobratz Jr., age 58, was the husband of Paula (Vance) Dobratz. Ray was born in Meriden on Aug 9, 1951 to Maureen M. Dobratz of Meriden, and the late Raymond E. Dobratz, Sr. Ray was a member of UA Local 777 for the past 40 years. He served in the Army National Guard. He was on the Old Saybrook Police Commission for 13 years; and also on the Old Saybrook Park & Rec. Commission for 13 years. Ray was on the Board of Trustees for the Westbrook Elks, and a former member of the Democratic town committee. Ray also coached youth sports. He was one of the co-founders of the Old Saybrook Youth Football Athletic League (OSYFAL) in the 1980s. Ray was an avid fisherman and loved the water. He was a well known figure in Old Saybrook; a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and will be sadly missed.

Besides his wife of 38 years, he is survived by 3 sons: Erik R. Dobratz and his wife Denise of Hamden, David J. Dobratz of Old Saybrook, and Matthew P. Dobratz and his wife Sarah of Old Lyme; a sister Marie Heck of Meriden; 5 grandchildren: Lily, Cole, Lauren, Kendall, and Keegan; many nieces and nephews. Ray is predeceased by a son Peter V. Dobratz and his black lab Jetty. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Raymond Dobratz Scholarship Fund, c/o Liberty Bank, 90 Main St., Old Saybrook, CT, 06475, or spend time with someone you love and take them fishing.

Ronald Jeffrey Crabb, age 42, was the beloved husband of Jodi Thomas. Born August 16, 1967 in Spring Valley, IL, he was a son of Marilyn T. Crabb of Chicago, IL and the late Carle (Bart) Crabb, III. He was married to Jodi M. Thomas on July 2, 1994 in Fairfield, CT. The couple later moved to Colchester where they made their home.
Most importantly, Ron will be remembered by his family for his devotion and hard work. In addition to his loving wife of 15 years and his mother, survivors include two sons, Dylan Thomas-Crabb of Colchester and Tyler Barboza of Spring Valley, IL; a brother, Carle Ray Crabb, IV of Spring Valley, IL; step father, Jerome Sisul of Chicago, IL; step siblings, Tawny Sisul, Francie Sisul, David Sisul and Jerome Sisul; mother in law, Susan Thomas of Milford; a special aunt, Sandra Thomas of Stratford and numerous extended family members and friends.

Ron proudly worked as a Steamfitter for UA Local 777 for 18 years. As an apprentice, Ron received the Department of Labor, Fitzgerald Award for outstanding apprenticeship.

Throughout his career, Ron was a champion of workers rights and job safety. Holding a strong belief in Unionism, Ron was immediate past president of the Local. Prior to that, he served the Local as Recording Secretary and as an Executive Board member. Receiving appointment by the Governor, Ron also served for six years on the State Licensing Board for Heating, Piping, Cooling and Sheet Metal Workers. He worked to maintain the integrity of the profession and protect work jurisdiction and consumers from fraudulent contractors.

An active member of his home town, Ron served on the Colchester Democratic Town Committee and he just completed a six year term on the Board of Finance. Ron was awarded the Secretary of the State's Public Service Award for his long standing dedication. He touched countless people's lives in an everlasting way. Ron held an avid love of the great outdoors. Donations in his memory may be made to benefit his children's education: Ronald Crabb Children's Education Fund, c/o Liberty Bank, 219 South Main St., Colchester, CT 06415.

May they all rest in peace and be fondly remembered for generations.

Donations for the families of Brother Chepulis, Brother Crabb and Brother Dobratz can also be made to the Local 777 Victim's Benevolent Fund C/O Local 777, 1250 East Main Street, Meriden CT. 06450

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


As I feared, three of the dead were members of the United Association Local 777. Please follow the link to a New York Times newstory printed this past week on the slain men. They were not just workers, they were flesh and blood members of their communities.


A fund has been set up for the victims' families. Open up your hearts and write a check to help support the families in their time of need. I would urge you to include a note which makes mention of your residence and what affiliation you care to add. I believe that it will mean a lot for the families to know that support was given from near and far.

Address your checks to the Local 777 Victims' Benevolent Fund and send them to:

Local 777 Victims' Benevolent Fund
C/O Local 777
1250 East Main Street
Meriden, CT. 06450

John P. Sullivan
President, UA Steamfitters Local 602

Monday, February 8, 2010


Sunday, February 7, 2010

At least five workers are dead at the Middletown, Connecticut “Kleen Energy Systems” Power Plant that was still under construction. At least a dozen workers were being treated for multiple injuries after being thrown 30-40 feet. They are still searching for the remaining workers. It was reported that around 50 workers were in the plant when gas lines were being “purged”.

This is the second industrial explosion in less than a year related to purging of gas lines. On June 9, 2009 an explosion at the ConAgra Foods, Inc., Garner, North Carolina plant, which makes Slim Jim beef jerky products, killed four people and injured dozens of others. It also caused an ammonia leak that caused some injuries and led to a fish kill in nearby streams.

A settlement last month between ConAgra and the state Department of Labor said a contractor released a mixture of pressurized gas and air into an enclosed room while installing a natural gas-fired water heater. ConAgra agreed to pay $106,000 for workplace safety violations. That is a paltry sum considering the dead and wounded workers, injured residents, and the accompanying contamination of the environment.

As a result of this tragedy, state officials have called for the adoption of safety codes used by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Gas Association, which require that natural gas be vented outdoors when gas lines are purged. In cases where that would be unfeasible, companies would be required to seek a variance from local officials before purging gas indoors, including approval of a risk evaluation and hazard control plan. That plan would require the use of combustible gas detectors to continuously monitor gas concentrations. Current national safety codes say gas purges "shall not be discharged into confined spaces or areas where there are sources of ignition unless precautions are taken."

What is the difference between an accident and a tragedy? A tragedy suggests that a fatal flaw was present at the time of the accident. More often than not, an underlying human flaw causes it. For example, “The Battle of the Little Bighorn” was no accident. The pride and ambition of Gen. George Armstrong Custer directly contributed to the tragedy, which will forever be known as “Custer’s Last Stand”.

For all of the pipefitters reading this, do not pressure test or purge piping systems with compressed air. And most certainly, do not vent a combustionable gas indoors where it can accumulate and then explode with nothing more than a spark.

If you must test gas lines, do so with an inert gas at pressures expected in the line, such as 10 psig in main gas lines. Test with for leaks with an approved gas meter. Yes, they do work. Some can, as a former foreman once said, “pick up a flea fart at fifty paces”. Beware, you may get false positive results. The meter that I used this past month reacted to uncured pipe dope and even to the “non-freezing” soap bubbles that we used to confirm leaks.

Follow up on any suspected leak with soap bubbles. Keep at it until you know that the system is safe. Then, before opening any of the gas lines make a serious risk assessment of the site. Are there any sources for combustion that can be eliminated? Are sections of the system isolated so that you can work step by step? Are sections vented safely outdoors away from any possible intakes? There are many more steps that you could and should incorporate into your specific work site.

I know that the foreman may be impatient and the general contractor will cry and squeal like his “teat is caught in the wringer”, but what is the alternative? And further, what is the consequence of poor planning and execution? The answer to this is simple…injury, death, and possible manslaughter charges.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


In the District of Columbia, there will be elections for D.C. Congressional Representative, Mayor, members of the D.C. Council, and members of the D.C. School Board. The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, September 14th. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd. To be eligible to vote in the primary you must be registered by Monday, August 16th. To be eligible to vote in the general election you must be registered by Monday, October 4th. D.C. law permits in-person and mailed absentee balloting. For further information, please 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 or toll free at 1-866-DC VOTES.

Maryland’s Federal Election involves all nine Congressional seats and one Senate seat. 2010 is also a State Election year. These elections include the Governor, Lt. Governor, State Comptroller, Attorney General, and all members of the State House and State Senate. In addition, there are County elections in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Wicomoco. These elections include the County Executive, members of the County Council, State's Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Probate Judge, and Register of Wills.

The Maryland primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, September 14th. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd. You must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican to vote in a party primary. Deadline for changing your party affiliation is 9 PM, Tuesday, June 22nd. You must be registered to vote by August 24th to be eligible to vote in the September 14th primaries. You must be registered to vote by October 12th to be eligible to vote in the November 2nd general election.

Maryland law permits in-person and mailed absentee balloting. Please contact the Maryland State Board of Elections over the Internet at http://www.elections.state.md.us/ or by phone at 410-269-2840 or toll free at 800-222-8683 for further information.

Virginia has a Federal Election in 2010 involving all of its eleven Congressional seats. Neither of the two US Senators is up for election. You do not register by party in Virginia and are permitted to vote in either primary, if held. The two main parties have their own rules governing whether they hold a primary. If there is a primary it most likely will be held on Tuesday, June 8th. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2nd. Traditionally you must be registered three weeks before an election. You must be registered to vote by Tuesday, October 12th in order to vote in the general election. Absentee voting, both in person and by mail, is allowed under Virginia State Law. It is a more restrictive process than in either Maryland or the District. For specific rules, please contact the Virginia State Board of Elections over the Internet at http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/ or by phone at 804-864-8901 or toll free at 800-552-9745.

Once again, I urge all of our members to register to vote and then to participate in this year’s elections. In addition, try to involve all of the members of your household and family in the 2010 Election. Plan ahead and arrange for them an opportunity to vote either in person or by an absentee vote. Help them meet the above deadlines. This is especially important for our elderly members and our children that either move out or head off for college.