By Don McIntosh
The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters has been placed under trusteeship by its national organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. According to a Nov. 3 letter to members, Evelyn Shapiro, the regional council’s top elected officer since 2018, has resigned her position and her union membership, along with Juan Sanchez, organizing director, and Dan Hutchins, director of contract administration.
For a union to be placed in trusteeship means a national president suspends local elected leaders and appoints one or more trustees to temporarily take charge of a union’s affairs. Under federal law, trusteeships are meant to restore democratic procedures or correct corruption or financial malpractice.
In this case, the most significant allegation is vote rigging in a ratification vote over a new Seattle-area contract with Associated General Contractors. The regional council announced Oct. 11 that members had voted 54% to ratify a new three-year contract that raises wages $2.26 a year. Members had voted down four previous tentative agreements, and the announcement brought a three-week strike to a close.
On Oct. 25, 19 members of the regional council’s executive committee signed a resolution saying they welcome and consent to the trusteeship, and pledge their cooperation. The resolution—posted on the regional council’s Facebook page the same day—said an independent investigation is needed into election vote rigging that Regional Council staff uncovered. “We need independent supervision and oversight to promptly take control, lock down and preserve the electronic voting system to prevent tampering,” the statement said.
The Nov. 3 letter said a UBC team at the regional council headquarters is also investigating unspecified pension and welfare investment improprieties. Carpenters Western District Representative James P. Gleason has been put in charge of the regional council.
The regional council is under trusteeship, but not its affiliated locals. Headquartered in Kent, Washington, the regional council represents over 28,000 carpenters, millwrights and pile drivers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. It’s the largest of the construction trades unions in the region, but it’s not affiliated with the AFL-CIO or its building trades department.