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Are Most of the Building Trades Market Share Losses Self Inflicted?

Firing Squad

Here is the abbreviated history of that statement. In 1973 the US was hit with the Oil Embargo which started in October of 1973. Construction came to a complete stand still for several years and paralleled very strongly the shutdown of construction following the 2008, 4th quarter meltdown and subsequent major recession.

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) the listed market share for unionized construction in 1973 was 39.5%. That reported number does not reconcile at all with mandated financial reports required by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (also “LMRDA” or the “Landrum-Griffin Act”).

One of the many provisions of the LMRDA is: “Require unions to submit annual financial reports to the DOL (Department of Labor) from all sources.” This is pre LM-2’s, which is how we report today.

When you do the math, you will see that the unionized Building Trades did approximately 65% – 71% of all construction work including residential and service type work.

Why the difference between the officially reported market share of 39.5% and the 65%/71% numbers?

The BLS counts union members, as those with a card in their pocket vs. temporary permit workers.

The LMRDA can pick up the differences between the reported BLS numbers and the permit/temporary workers in the financial reports.

The Building Trades had at times thru-out the 60’s and early 70’s a lot of permit hands.

So when work fell out hard in 73, who hit the road? Highly skilled permit/doby/white ticket etc., hands.


“In 1972, the Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable officially closed ranks with its friends in the Labor Law Reform Study Group.  In 1973, these two groups merged with the March Group.” We call them CURT today. Construction Users Roundtable. Direct and unbroken lineage!

“They intended to gradually establish non-union contractors to undercut the economic position of unionized employers and through the strategic use of their purchase orders, the large consumers would insure their control over the contractors, both union and non-union.”

“The goal was simple:  reorganize and centralize the construction industry. (what is now construction managers) What has been the role of the Roundtable in the open shop sector?  In the mid-60’s the ABC was still a local trade association operating around Baltimore, and Brown and Root was the largest non-union national contractor.  The Roundtable realized that the growth of these two groups would seriously hurt organized labor and so through its members, it began funneling to Brown and Root and the ABC contractors more business.  The Roundtable even urged Brown and Root to join the ABC giving it an enormous credibility boost and financial shot in the arm.” ABC is a front to this day, it has no members, money or power that the anti-union isn’t behind. CURT provides all the muscle to the anti-union, RTW, anti-union lawyers/consultants and politicians to act on their behalf. Case closed! Easy to follow the money if you’re a person of labor vs political hack!

The above 3 paragraphs are taken from The White Paper entitled The Business Roundtable and American Labor 1979, by JC Turner, Former General President of the Operating Engineers.!289&authkey=!ANb4O5GMPzmC1hs&ithint=file%2cpdf

So because the Building Trades did not grant membership in the 60’s & 70’s to all those 10’s of thousands well skilled hands which are now out of work – guess who hires them?

The entrepreneur’s went into business, mostly residential & service. While others skilled in commercial, industrial and maintenance went to work for the anti-union big boys.

Had an immediate effect in both sectors. The Building Trades lost residential and service in most areas and the National Maintenance Agreements, along with other agreements, had to be created to stem the tide of lost work in these areas, and why they are used to this day.

Also, not only did we not grant those temp workers membership in the union, when most of them sought to find out about contributions to their pensions for the years worked. Screwed again, they forfeited that money because there were no vesting rules.  Employee Retirement Income Security Act – ERISA was in the making because of the Studebaker Corporation, the Enron of their day. However when thousands of workers went to their legislatures – ERISA was moved quickly and enacted September 2, 1974 – Labor Day. Irony –

So our former well trained workers without a card and pension became the backbone of the anti-union. That is when the country club comments emerged regarding the Building Trades, and has stuck with us to this day.

We are again in the Building Trades creating a “second class” of worker thru a helper classification with limited accessibility to full journeyperson status. History repeating itself. Also this parallels the Merit Shop philosophy, many helpers, and a couple of lead hands. Another irony as bad as it is!

The Building Trades then went into full coast mode for over 2 decades, and when they finally looked up from all the partying, had taken a bullet proof market share near 70% and rode it into the ground to 18.8% in 1994 and BTW – this is the hard number. No workers en masse on temp status!

So the Building Trades turned to a Business Unionism model and thinking we are a brand instead of a movement, and started working with the very institutions that ARE putting the Building Trades out of business per their own plan today.

In 2002 the Top-down/Breslin BS was our go 2 strategy. Still is, which is the problem. His book, 127 pages of double space, 14 font, without any citations and/or sourcing of any kind, is the guru of market development. That, and a hefty fee for a motivation speech, has not only not raised market share, but has lost market share “net”, now down to 12.5% in 2015.

The Construction Chart Book, 5th Edition – paid for by you! Some of the best info no-one in the Building Trades knows about.

Every single sourced number on market share strongly correlates that what JC Turner said is right. The anti-union consortiums have the momentum, and us cooperating with them, at our own demise.

The more we talk to big construction, the more we lose market share in every category. There are major business and legal consequences to this strategy which are self-inflicted, because we keep repeating them over and over, in spite of every number clearly saying it doesn’t work.

We are not a business brand Brother General Presidents and minions – we are the once proud American Labor Movement, which will by your hand, regain our heritage if we are led along with blowing up this BS culture we find ourselves in.

A “Strong Labor Movement” balances big capital, and without that balance the dwindling middle class will become the working poor on your watch!

Civil disobedience balances the needs of workers and society, working under bought laws, which is going to be the case for the immediate future. Image the Civil Rights Act, Women Rights, Labor Rights and many other hard fought battles without them.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group


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