Posted by: Anonymous Journalist | Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Just Blame It on the Ravenous BIU Dog…

We have learned, for example, that despite the failures to produce approved, audited statements for 12 years, the union’s finance team is paid $418,000 a year. This pay-out is remarkable considering the year-to-year failures to comply with the basic, legally binding reporting requirements…”

Michael Fahy, OBA Chairman

as reported in Bernews, 18 July 2011

http://bernews.com/2011/07/michael-fahy-on-bermuda-industrial-union-finances

This is disgraceful. It’s bad enough when corporations and big business turn their backs on their workers so they can maintain the status quo of lining their own executive pockets, but for the body created with the intention of protecting the workers? Appalling.

I am pro-union. I grew up in a union family. Though white collar – the first to break the ‘blue collar’ standing in his family — my father was a member of a union that treated him well to the day he died. He was so skilled and unfailingly honest in his work for his railroad that the union stole him away, and for the last fifteen years of his professional life he was one of only 8 auditors for the transportation unions in North America. He rubbed elbows with mechanics and electricians, corporate giants and senators. He was well respected, for he had no fear confronting any discrepancy he uncovered. Some people he met lost their jobs because they thought they could get away with stealing from the union, or diverting monies where they weren’t intended to be. He was threatened at times, even shot once, the bullet missing his heart by only a few inches. But nothing deterred him from holding anyone — and everyone — to the best standards: he never abandoned his ethics. My father was warm and funny, honest yet always willing to give someone a chance. He was a quiet spoken man who lived a life of integrity. Perhaps that’s why I so loved To Kill a Mockingbird, for in my eyes he was the embodiment of an Atticus Finch.

So I am pro-union, but only to the best in unions because that was the example I grew up with, that is the example I was taught.

To not file approved, audited financial statements for 12 years yet continue to pull salaries totalling just shy of one-half million annually is an utter breach of the contract between the executive branch of the union and its union members. To fob off members who ask questions, to use the equivalent ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse when regulatory bodies ask for answers is reprehensible. Union members have the right to expect their union to answer any and all questions asked, to represent them to the very best of their abilities and to protect them as per union by-laws with fervent diligence. The governing body of the union has no right to turn a deaf ear to the members they are responsible to represent. This is what they are paid to do.

What is the union’s financial state? Where are the funds from all those yearly dues?

If the governing body of the BIU is misappropriating funds, or unable to properly handle funds to maintain a balance in the black, or if the governing body doesn’t know how to prepare and properly audit their annual financial statements, then they need to be chucked out on their respective asses while a real auditor comes in to assess, report — and correct — the situation.

With no financial reporting for so many years, with no explanations forthcoming from the union’s governance the only – the overwhelming — conclusion left hanging in the air is the question, “just how bad has the thievery been?”

Or is it that the system did indeed “crash” and older records are lost? Well then, have the integrity to admit you don’t know how to fix it and bring in a forensic auditor who specializes in bringing a dead trail back to life. Perhaps they are akin to the Victorian-era beadle as described by Dickens:

…It’s immoral to steal, but you can take things. The dignity of [the beadle’s] office is never impaired by the absence of efforts on his part to maintain it…”

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

BIU members have the right to know the state of their union. It’s an abiding principle to any unions’ by-laws, and not one to be toyed with.

Union members — keep applying pressure. Tell these jokers you want an answer NOW and then do all in your power to clean the slate and elect new governance. Slipping a year, maybe even two could be tolerated IF there’s a genuine lack of understanding how to recover lost records.

But 12 years??? No. That’s a pathological dismissal of the accurate accounting of your monies. Of your best interests. If my Dad were still alive, I’d tell him to offer to come in and unravel this mess. I’d bet heads would roll, to the benefit of the BIU.

BIU members have the right to know where they stand.

No excuses – no matter what the dog says.

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