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Value on Display Continues to Roll “Snake Eyes”


“Snake Eyes” is the exact and proper term for Value on Display.

According to, the North American informal definition of snake eyes is:

snake eyes (noun)

  1. a throw of two ones with a pair of dice.
    • the worst possible result; a complete lack of success.
    • “his elegant, amusing book sadly came up snake eyes

Snake Eyes

Below is an exact copy of the news release from the North America’s Building Trades Unions dated 1/23/2015. The bold italics are mine and correspond to our commentary that follows.  By the way, Brother Sean Mc Garvey thinks this is good news. We ask, “Really – In what world?”

Membership in North America’s Building Trades Unions Continues to Climb


January 23, 2015

Tom Owens

Membership in North America’s Building Trades Unions Continues to Climb

WASHINGTON, DC — Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows continued membership growth for North America’s Building Trades Unions.
In 2014, union membership in the construction industry increased by approximately 53,000.  Adding to the increase reported by BLS in 2013, the two-year growth of membership in building and construction trade unions in America now stands at 148,000.

Excluding residential construction and non-production/supervisory employees, the union construction industry is today approaching 40 percent density in the United States.

“The numbers released today by BLS,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, “are an affirmation of the collective efforts by our unions to re-position the union construction industry as a value-centric, preferred vendor-supplier of skilled craft construction labor services in the United States, and as a trusted community partner that is providing hope in the form of career training opportunities for many disadvantaged people, including and especially women, minorities and military veterans.”

For our commentary, let’s read between the lines of what isn’t said.

  • “Approximately” – is a vague word sometimes used to cloud the use of numbers and to mix and match or combine numbers –
  • “Non-production/supervisory” – an entire discussion in and of itself, the way it is used here is pro–building trades.
  • “Approaching 40 percent density” – market share & density are not one and the same and a reader needs to know they are not always interchangeable. Perspective is interesting here because while the statement of “approaching 40 percent” sounds wonderful, all the numbers and trend lines over time say that with Value on Display the chances are much greater that we will see 25% to 30% density long before we see 40% or more. Also, nowhere is he claiming that market share and/or density has grown in the last year or two. By the way market share has consistently fallen – “NET” – for going on 30 years. And, density – the more important number – has collapsed for the same 30 year period! Yet construction spending has been at or near (check out my words) all-time highs for a couple of years and is forecasted to continue to climb. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau “Value of Construction Put in Place Survey” through November 2014, the spending has been 974,976,000,000 dollars or close to 1 Trillion $$$$. ( )

We are getting pounded on in total market share and density – net – on both sides of the border!

  • “Are an affirmation” – There are no numbers anywhere that make this statement true without BS spin. Reality check – the entirely new classifications in the different trades are in effect construction helpers. This has not worked to arrest market share and/or density losses. Trying to compete on price is a losing game when you’re a Labor Movement! 100% of the time low wages = low market share! Recruiting 2nd & 3rd tier non-union workers with minimum skills to join our ranks is not a long-term strategy. Many will flip back non-union when work falls off, and take with them the enhanced skills we provided them. We are in effect giving books away. What’s tragic is that those workers we want don’t see a future in the Building Trades. Add to this is that we are losing highly skilled journeypersons to retirement and also because of a loss to steady work (because of collapsing market share), so union members go work non-union. We are also losing our members that are estimators, in operations, field supervision, etc. to increasingly aggressive recruiting – “head hunting” – by non-union recruitment firms like, Tradesman International, I Hire Building Trades, Trillium and a few more. They now are paying referral fees and more to ex-members to help boost recruitment from within the existing union ranks. These ex-members also bring relationships from the union companies they worked for.

Please Senior Leadership, go to just 1 anti-union seminar on union avoidance and you’ll see firsthand that our collaboration with big construction & CURT strongly correlates to loss of market share over the last 30 years, especially from 2002 till today. Our team has been to 24 total. The non/anti-union forces have the Organizers/Market Development Reps in their offices providing every manner of information which benefits them and renders us impotent to raise market share – “NET”. We hand over the results of our hard work regarding our safety & training advances. The non/anti-union hold us close so that RECOGNITION is always in play and tremendously limits any actions we can take with the contractor, virtually eliminating any secondary activities. They also can then anticipate our future moves and curtail and prolong the outcome which overwhelmingly favors them. Value on Display puts and keeps Organizers/Reps in a NLRB box. These numbers are very ascertainable and measurable – if numbers are what we are all about.

Contrast the Building Trades News releases with the un-filtered numbers. Below is the AGC News Bulletin (Associated General Contractors of America), which ran the same news without the spin (a rare occurrence) from the same sources. Vox also ran a more detailed piece from the same sources. 

Union membership in 2014 is half of what it was 30 years ago

 The share of workers who are union members slipped again last year to the lowest share since 1983 — the earliest year the Labor Department has available.


The slip looks small, since the share fell from 11.3 to 11.1 percent, but the drop is still significant. It’s the latest indicator that the waning influence of Big Labor in the American workforce is going to continue. So while both political parties grapple with what to do about stagnant wages and inequality, unions is looking less and less likely to be the answer.

In 2014, there were nearly 14.6 million union members in the US, up by only around 50,000 from 2013. Over that same period, the number of workers in the US grew by more than 2 million.  [This is the AFL-CIO and not just the Building Trades.]

That decline in union membership rates has been entirely in the private sector — the total number of public sector union members has grown over the years, as this graphic from the Pew Research Center shows, while private-sector union membership has shrunk to a far greater degree. Indeed, 35.7 percent of public-sector workers today are members, compared to 6.6 percent for private-sector.


(Pew Research Center)

What’s dragging unions down? That’s a topic of intense debate. The rise of right-to-work laws in some states is often blamed, along with laws that restrict union activities, like the 2011 Wisconsin law prohibiting many types of collective bargaining on the part of public-sector unions. One theory from economists Alan Krueger and Morris Kleiner links shrinking unions with the rise of occupational licensing. Meanwhile, Evan Soltas (writing at Bloomberg View last year) points to the rising dependence of labor upon capital. [VALUE on DISPLAY in the Building Trades.]

Interestingly, Pew has found that public support of unions has held steady over the years. Still, organized labor is still slipping, and it’s hard to see it regaining its former strength.

Our Commentary:

We at Labor Rising have a detailed plan on how to reverse this now. However, until Value on Display is put back in a box, every single number says (minus the BS spin) that we will continue to lose market share & density fast! Acknowledge the longstanding numbers and let’s change!

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group

P.S. Share, Like, Debate – we are systematically losing the promise of careers and good paying middle class jobs and with further inaction and market share losses with continue to see retirees now, and in the future in further jeopardy. We are all in this together so it’s time to win!



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