OVERVIEW: In the late 1880s, we were called the Independent Dockbuilders Union. We worked on the New York City waterfront, building docks and piers, and driving piles for marine structures and foundations.
Now we are working to re-establish and restore our local.
- 1907. The Independent Dockbuilders Union became a federal local and was chartered by the AFL (American Federation of Labor).
- 1910. We remained in the AFL until 1910 when a fire broke out at the local and destroyed all records, and our charter was suspended for non-payment of dues.
When the Independent Dockbuilders reapplied for their charter, the Bridge & Structural Ironworkers and the Carpenters Union both tried to claim us as their jurisdiction. The Dockbuilders battled against both organizations and prevailed. The AFL, recognizing that we were a specialty trade, reissued a charter to us and once again, we remained as Independent Dockbuilders. During this time, New York City also laid claim to The Municipal Dock Workers Federal Local 13041. The Independent Dockbuilders Union and the Municipal Dock Workers performed the same work, but were two separate locals. Both Dockbuilding locals respected their jurisdiction and worked in harmony.
- 1914. Representatives from the Carpenters Union met with the Independent Dockbuilders Union and a heated debate began on whether we should affiliate with the Carpenters based on their "jurisdictional claims." Under pressure, the Independent Dockbuilders affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) and in 1914, a charter was issued to the Dockbuilders as Dockbuilders Local Union 1456.
The Municipal Dock Workers on the other hand, refused to affiliate with the Carpenters Union. The AFL pressured them to affiliate with the Carpenters by June 15, 1915 or their charter would be revoked. They still refused to affiliate.
The Bridge & Structural Ironworkers Union seized upon this unfortunate moment and claimed the Municipal Dock Workers as their jurisdiction. The AFL organizing committee ruled that there should be only one Dockbuilders Union in the city and ultimately, the Municipal Dock Workers became a part of Dockbuilders Local Union 1456.
- 1920. Commercial divers are also an integral part of our Dockbuilding heritage. In the 1920s divers from the New York City area formed their own Independent AFL-CIO union. It was called the Marine Divers & Tenders Union Local 2295. These highly skilled marine divers performed all the underwater work in and around New York City and the Eastern Seaboard, from underwater welding and burning to plumb posting and marine maintenance.
The divers' local flourished until the late 1960s when dive work on the Eastern Seaboard slowed. Because the divers worked hand-in-hand with the Dockbuilders, they joined forces and in 1973, the divers became union brothers with Dockbuilders Local Union 1456.
- 2011. History once again repeats itself: We are only "affiliated" with the UBC. The general president of the UBC, Doug McCarron, dissolved our 127-year Dockbuilders heritage on July 21, 2011. This move has put our member benefits in jeopardy.
Our local was placed into trusteeship because McCarron, along with UBC officers Frank Spencer and John Ballyntine, claimed that Dockbuilders Local 1456 leaders John Harkin and Charlie Harkin had defrauded our union and misappropriated funds. The allegations were proved false when the New York City District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) trials committee found our leaders not guilty.
We believe that Dockbuilders Local 1456 was placed into trusteeship so that UBC president Douglas McCarron could achieve his goal of creating one large organization (to be called the Heavy and Highway Construction Local) and placing the NYCDCC into the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.
We believe the trusteeship was fabricated to eliminate the voting power of the Dockbuilders and other NYCDCC members. In addition to dissolving our local, McCarron has dissolved and merged Carpenters locals all across the country — thereby stripping us of our right to vote and silencing our voices in the labor movement. This has destroyed the once proud UBC and forced unfair labor practices on us.
It's at this crossroads that we urge you to join us in making a conscious decision to leave the UBC and chart our own history. Let's take our strong and united Dockbuilding craft, and reclaim our place in the union labor movement.
- 2012. Hearing scheduled for Oct. 5, 2012. Members seek to re-establish Dockbuilders Union by calling for an Unfair Labor Practice hearing: Dockbuilders v. Mike Bilello (NYCDCC executive secretary-treasurer). Read News for more info.