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THE COURT: Well, who cares, to be perfectly honest with you. Necessary, appropriate, and prudent, I, without knowing more, I would disagree. It seems to me -- and I've been in business myself in the private sector for a long period of my career. This kind of thing is done all the time. It's called an audit. And it's an audit by an outside independent to see if in fact they're right. It's not uncommon for people who have a vested interest in the performance, in saying things are hunky dory and healthy, doing well, don't think it's necessary, etc., etc., it's very common to have that reaction. But from my point of view it's not very comforting.
MR. McGUIRE: I could revisit it with the trustees, your Honor, but I'm fairly confident they will again make the same decision.
THE COURT: And why? Why do they think that it's unnecessary? Yes. You tell me an audit is too expensive to do, costs a hundred thousand dollars and a waste of money. So I don't know if it's too expensive or, you know, we're doing so well, or why.
MR. McGUIRE: Well, this kind of audit, by another firm, of your investment advisor, in fact is highly uncommon in that part of the world.
THE COURT: Oh, that's nonsense. I don't mean to be rude. But all the time, financial performance is monitored, and all the time are outside persons called in to -- it's not necessarily an evaluation to see if there's wrongdoing. It's just an evaluation to see if this money could be better invested. It's not a big deal.
THE COURT: So to your knowledge, Mr. McGuire, has the Department of Labor done a recent audit of the benefit funds?
MS. O'LEARY: There was a pension fund audit, your Honor, done last year that ended with no action, and the Department of Labor has just commenced a welfare fund audit.
THE COURT: What did they say about the issues I'm raising?
MS. O'LEARY: They just asked for a number of documents and then they just said -- they don't tell you specifically what their focus is.
THE COURT: That's not really what I have in mind.
MR. McGUIRE: Your Honor, DOL ordinarily does not evaluate your performance returns.
THE COURT: That's my point. That is exactly my point.
MR. McGUIRE: But the law has entrusted that responsibility to an equal number of union trustees and management trustees. The only guidance provided in the law is that you have to ensure that you secure expert advice, which we've done, and you have to have widely diversified investments, because --
THE COURT: And they don't care what return on investment you get.
MR. McGUIRE: They don't.
THE COURT: They don't.
MR. McGUIRE: No.
THE COURT: Really. That's astonishing.
Douglas McCarron, the decisive general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, dropped in to tell Coryell that he was out.
The visit was short. Less than an hour. And Coryell had no idea it was coming, said friends and allies of the ousted labor leader.
By the time McCarron left, or shortly afterward, signs went up on the doors of the carpenters' headquarters on Spring Garden Street.
"At the direction of UBC general president Doug McCarron," the signs said, the council's 17,000 members and their union locals were closed and divided among councils based in Edison, N.J.; Pittsburgh; and Framingham, Mass.
While many aspects of Coryell's dismissal remain mysterious, one thing is certain, said John J. McNichol, chief executive of the Pennsylvania Convention Center: The change won't lead to union carpenters' returning to the building to set up and dismantle conventions.
"There is zero discussion or consideration of that," he said.
Fellow union leader John J. "Johnny Doc" Dougherty said he spent the day on the phone "talking to owners, developers, and contractors and letting them know there's continuity in the construction industry." Dougherty, who leads Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, now also heads the Philadelphia Building Trades Council.
Coryell's union had quit the council, a sore point among others in the building trades.
Dougherty said his role was to reassure: "The cool part of Philadelphia, you can change quarterbacks and the game goes on."
Running the show at the carpenters' headquarters is Michael Capelli, eastern district vice president under the direction of Frank Spencer, a McCarron lieutenant from Haddonfield and a top national vice president.
"Until we have everything in order, I'm handling this on a daily basis right now," Capelli said.
Capelli and others presided over a meeting of the council's business agents Thursday at the union hall on Spring Garden Street.
Capelli also said that carpenters should be reassured that their pension funds would be kept separate from the funds in the other councils.
Rob Naughton, one of Coryell's longtime officers, will take on the responsibilities of regional manager, Capelli said.
Capelli said McCarron's strategy has been to consolidate regional councils nationwide, but he had no explanation for why the smaller Pittsburgh council was not rolled into Coryell's larger organization.
Rumors had been flying for months that Coryell, 70, of Wenonah, N.J., was on his way out.
Coryell heard them, too - and denied them.
In January, Coryell went to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the United Brotherhood to square his status with McCarron. "He had a great meeting," said U.S. Rep. Robert Brady (D., Pa.), a union carpenter, relating what Coryell told him about his talk with McCarron. Brady said they discussed the apprenticeship program and organizing efforts in Washington, a territory Coryell had taken over in January 2014.
"I was surprised as anybody" by what happened, Brady said.
Brady said Coryell's influence would be missed in Philadelphia. As a powerful labor leader, he had served on boards and was a player in the state and the region's political landscape.
"Ed Coryell was a guy with a lot of contacts," Brady said. "It will certainly hurt the city of Philadelphia to lose a major leader who was very well-respected."
"I think everyone was taken by surprise, the breadth and the width," said Patrick J. Eiding, who leads the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.
Perhaps the United Brotherhood of Carpenters is right when it says that consolidating the Philadelphia council with others increases union power to the benefit of workers, Eiding said.
"Then God bless them," he added.
When the news broke, Eiding was looking for some kind of graceful exit role for Coryell, maybe as a consultant or an adviser. It wasn't there.
Said Eiding: "I think it's unfortunate that someone who has been a great labor leader . . . I think he deserves to go out a little higher than that."
Union members clearly deserve to know how their dues monies are spent. In an effort to better educate our members on union finances and provide much needed transparency, Local157.blogspot.com is providing you with one click, free access to the latest LM-2 Report filed by the New York District Council of Carpenters. Under the law you have a right to this information.