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Latest News - August 2010

August 23, 2010
Carpenters Union president Joe Firth axed, accused of preferential hiring for Ground Zero jobs
Source: NY Daily News
By: Brian Kates

The boss of a corruption-ridden carpenters union has been fired amid charges he rigged hiring lists to give cronies work at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned.

Joe Firth, president of Carpenters Union Local 608, has been stripped of his job by the international United Brotherhood of Carpenters and banned from holding union office for 10 years.

Before he was elected president earlier this year, Firth was a business agent whose sole responsibility was, as he put it in court papers, assigning carpenters to jobs at "Ground Zero ... [and] the buildings that were damaged during the attack."

Firth's firing comes as the United Brotherhood cleans house at the local after District Council of Carpenters chief Michael Forde, former Local 608 President John Greaney and six Local 608 business agents pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges.

Allegations of Firth's purported rigging of hiring at the World Trade Center and Ground Zero put him under the microscope of federal review officer Dennis Walsh, sources said.

Walsh declined to comment.

Union dissidents say Firth played favorites in assigning Ground Zero jobs, which usually involve six-day weeks with plenty of overtime.

"Carpenters down there are pulling in $100,000 a year," a former Local 608 official said.

In 2003, one of Walsh's predecessors, federal monitor Walter Mack, said whistleblowers told him Firth had given his two brothers "breaks that others didn't get."

Mack warned him about "keeping a fair playing field for everyone."

Firth was elected early this year as president of the 7,400-member local, which controls union carpenters on the West Side of Manhattan and all of the Bronx. He could not be reached for comment.



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