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Culture Eats Strategy – Unless it Rolls Over

The Culture we live in as members of unions needs to be changed – if by change we mean grow a back-bone and spine and defend all workers, then I’m right there with you.

If by change we mean quit accepting the crumbs big business will let us have when it is in their “interest” and on their terms to do so – like now – as work is ramping up and it is part of a business decision to do so. Ditto.

For the past 20 or so years the Building Trades unions have been running away (rolling over) from the most successful wealth distribution culture/model the world have ever seen!

Our culture before that was primarily based on comradery & unity of workers (union or not), community involvement, a living wage, decent benefits, fair conditions, adjusting our racial, gender and religious bias on the job & in real time. That’s a culture worth fighting for and preserving.

Approximately 20 years ago the Building trades started down the path of what was hoped (hope is never a good strategy) was a path of least resistance, selling ourselves like a “brand” and presenting ourselves as a business partner to the world of construction delivery. Brands come and go – a movement will live on, if it stays true to its culture. Movements advance and defend whole ways of life, and as such have a value far exceeding a brand! America is a movement – not a brand! UNIONS are a movement!

Hundreds of millions of membership dollars spent on wining and dining and endless business meetings of selling ourselves and our market share continues to drop.  Adopting a culture and aligning ourselves with a culture that is at its root only concerned with the bottom line.

Comparing ourselves with, and being compared with manufacturing companies like Toyota and Apple and how they continuously seek excellence in the products they build.

Manufacturing of this type is under the strictest of control, near perfect working conditions, short individual repetitive motions, highly automated and layers of quality control.  How is that relevant to construction of any type? Find me on Google any comparisons of construction delivery excellence and manufacturing excellence by any real experts, other than those passing as experts consulting our industry. Not happening.

When Labor Rising speaks with the Deans and Associate Deans of Schools of Construction Management   and read the books produced by these experts and the underlying work of these professionals, no where do I ever see a comparison of the 2 industries. Let me know please if you do find them.

My point is that a Toyota cannot have 10% defects and stay in business – however construction presents its own unique set of circumstances and has to engineer them as such.

We in the construction industry will see advances of technology and modularization to improve delivery of construction of all types – right up to 3-D and Nanotechnology in the construction industry.

Our culture when it was successful, controlled the skills of all workers with those skills – and only made those skilled trades-persons available under a CBA which was a much a collaboration as it was a battle.

Building Trades may want to consider how we keep high wage jobs and re-engineer how that will be delivered in the future, which is now. Value on Display should have a whole new mission which Labor Rising feels it can help with now – so it’s not too late then.

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group


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