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Union Organizing & Selling

For the past 20 years, the Building Trades has endeavored to sell the qualities of union construction. The numbers overwhelmingly show that using selling as a prime strategy to raise market share has not arrested the continued loss of market share – net, over time.

What continues to be factored out of the current strategy is that historically (and as importantly, presently) non/anti-union companies overwhelming only sign a CBA (collective bargaining agreement) for 1 of 2 reasons: 1) They have to – which is a completely different dynamic; or 2) To gain access to a market – like when thru the 70’s, non/anti-union contractors signed a CBA to participate in markets controlled by a union presence. Since the non-union presently controls approximately 90% of the total national market, #2 is increasingly a moot point.

The Building Trades have found themselves in a position of knocking on doors:

  • We knock on non-union contractors’& non-union end-users’ doors for work!
  • We knock on the workers’ doors for support!
  • We knock on the politicians’ doors to advance pro-union legislation!
  • We knock on the public’s doors to try and raise awareness!

In the sales world, knocking on doors is the worst position to be in if you expect to win business. For the past 20 years we primarily have tried to advance the Building Trades as a brand thru “a value proposition” with little success. Labor unions are not brands –  brands come & go – but that is another blog for another day.

If the selling component currently used as the primary strategy by the Building Trades to raise market share continues, the current version of the Building Trades will die! The numbers clearly show no one is buying, joining or supporting the way we presently do business.

Historically, while successful organizing strategies may contain a small component of selling, they win because they bring pressure to bear!

The design & strategy of today’s pressure campaigns emphasize social justice. Social justice is what we’re all about; however, these campaigns move entirely too slowly for  any wins to offset the decline of union market share. To bring the pressure necessary to win to a scale that raises market share requires economic pressure. Just to highlight  a few, some of the pressure tactics needed to reverse the decline of union market share include hitting non/anti-union in their bottom line; bringing their abuses to light publically with clients; and using social media to bring transparency to their lies. Brothers & Sisters, for those that know union history, it is economic pressure that wins – hitting them in the wallet!

What is absolutely in play today is that the Building Trades are in the exact right time & place to exert huge financial, credit & social market pressures on the non-anti/union contractors’ business markets now! Why the building trades continue to pursue an unsuccessful, worn-out strategy of knocking on doors, instead of rapidly transitioning our dormant & very powerful core competency into a “sales & marketing” engine for our union contractors’ & members’ jobs, is a mystery!

The Building Trades can literally bring so much  pressure to bear legally and in a short time, using @LaborCombat, #TechCombat & #CombatConstruction strategies, that this  would dramatically shift the Building Trades from “knocking on doors”  to a paradigm shift of a sales & marketing engine that powerfully changes the way construction is delivered today in our favor.

The paradigm shift can result in transitioning from 90% of the time “knocking on the door” of the non/anti-union to a strategy where these same non-union contractors must “knock on our door” and sign a CBA in order stay in business.

Organizing has always been how labor grows – we need to adapt now to the 21st Century version and change! Our founders would expect that we adapt to this challenge.


“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity,

Danny L. Caliendo

Senior Instructor/Founder

Labor Combat Organizing  College

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