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The Trades Are Out of Time – Not Even a Bit of Hyperbole

Time is OUT Trades

Today is the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., champion of the Civil Rights Movement who used labor unrest, measures of civil disobedience, and in the trenches activism to secure Civil Rights for a diverse group of Americans. The Trades don’t have a clue what that looks like, and haven’t for decades with their collaborative and capitulating approach with management. That irony is lost on the senior leadership of the Trades!

Our motto at Labor Rising is – “if you see a good fight – get in it” which was coined by Dr. Vernon Johns, mentor of MLK and Minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. If we are to fight, we must have a cause that is worthwhile and Dr. Johns, along with Dr. King, fought vigorously for racial equality and social justice under the law, which was indeed a cause worthy of fighting for.  Once upon a time, the Trades CHAMPIONED economic and social justice better than anyone. However, for the past few decades we talk BS, we blame, we are mere pretenders standing on the shoulders of giants! And all the while the middle class and earnings have plummeted. Dr. Johns also knew that to organize, we must be organized ourselves, along with being champions of a cause. The Trades are neither.

The passion of the Rank & File and most Organizers/Market Reps is far greater than the tools they have available to do their mission with the Value on Display tool box. Labor Rising has been in the locals of several hundred Trades’ Brother and Sister Organizers/Market Reps. Most are capable individuals, even some of the “good ole boy” selections.

This cadre of R&F is not the issue – it is the massively failed strategy of the Trades’ Senior Leadership which is at the core of the problem. They say stuff like, “We give them the ‘tools’ to succeed.” Really? Compared to WHAT? They believe they are covered with that statement. But, they give their Organizers/Market Reps next to zero instruction in putting economic pressure and more on the clients, credit and social footprint of the end-user, developer and construction manager. Those that sign the checks and make the key decisions in construction, the trades leave alone. They cooperate and capitulate to them at every turn. SIC codes and research and development of markets; understanding of recognition and secondary activity 8b4; reading credit reports and deciphering what they mean to overall strategy; controlling the hiring of the non-union; opposition research and how to use it; technology applications in media, websites, blogs, cyber-organizing and community outreach; powerful communication platforms; and, most importantly, what to do after leaving the training when faced with dealing with real construction market issues.  The bullet points that make up the Labor Rising, Labor Combat and Black Ops course syllabi don’t even remotely look like the training that an International or Building Trades Academy instructs on. Here is the top comment I hear from every group, “We are professionals and we work with the non-union contractors and players in good faith. BUT, WHAT DO WE AS ORGANIZERS AND MARKET REPS DO, WHEN WE HEAR ‘NO’ REPEATEDLY AND ARE BEING PLAYED AND USED?” The Trades, Breslin, the think tanks and academia have never had an answer to give them that is satisfactory. No – it is not the passion of the Organizers/Market Reps that is missing. It is the strategy and tactics presently used by the Trades that fail!

21st Century structure of Labor Rising vs. unstructured and incomplete tactics – Labor Rising Foundations course:!AmKOi71GyLcgkRDGsNrLWiSeduGk

So here is the equation that Labor Rising has worked on for 7 years. How is it possible for approximately 12,000 combined officers, agents, organizers and market reps in 2 countries to fail across the board “NET” in growing market share for going on 3 decades? Or, is the issue the narrowly scoped business model of Value on Display and a business unionism strategy, which parallels the exact trending of market share losses? We see a correlation – a mutual connection between two or more things.

Now, with the unsurprising election of Trump and all Republicans, the Trades are out of time in every way.

Trump’s election, by all accounts, was much more of a vote against establishment politics than a vote of confidence in him. How many International Presidents do you think would survive a direct election by the R&F in a one person, one vote situation? The DNC and HRC burned Bernie, and when burned themselves, they whine. The election of all Republicans give the Building Trades senior leadership nowhere to hide. It is fight, or this version of the trades dies on your watch!

Labor Rising’s point is not only that the Trades are out of time, they have zero time to whine and cry. It is move or die. And, if the move is more of the same, that will be tantamount to the end of this version of the Trades!

So, Inauguration Day is this Friday and within the first 100 days, construction industry groups have called on Trump to repeal PLA mandates. The groups, including the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others, want this gone. And, the present strategies and tactics of the Trades are to call on some of the above group and meet with them endlessly, and call them friends!  In the meantime, huge chunks of Building Trades hours will evaporate if this Executive Order is repealed. Here is a link to an article for your information:

With Trump elected, all bets are off. Kentucky falls and between 32 to 35 states will pass Right to Work soon, if they haven’t already. National RTW legislation is a good bet. Our Founders would charge head on into RTW – we use it as an excuse to fold and continue to fail.

We’re on the clock:

  • Even if it is possible Trump isn’t anti-union, the combined Republican legislature is.
  • Consider an even worse scenario. Trump could go down, even at the hands of the R’s, and we get Pence.
  • Rising interest rates will slow construction and will be the excuse du jour to run the table. Translation – get rid of union jobs.
  • Union contractors will bail.
  • Anti-union legislation is prevailing in 42 state. Defined Benefit Pensions will be taken out of PLA Agreements, and our “crack” negotiating teams will be negotiating from weakness on remaining terms. Good bet Davis-Bacon/prevailing rates will suffer, and proposed infrastructure will be weakened, if not stripped of labor protections.
  • Defined Benefit Pensions that are Critical and Declining (insolvent) and Critical Status pension will not get any proposed relief more than likely under a Republican Congress – not even extended amortization, etc., much less cash. Department of Labor link – check to see if your union is on it:
  • The Trades will suffer a PR nightmare when retirees tell their stories under Republican Congressional hearings and news reports. BTW, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is mostly broke, which will make this even worse. This is the insurer of the failed union pensions that typically pays approximately $.30 on the dollar. PBGC currently has a fraction of the hard dollars needed to cover even this level of benefit insurance.
  • 11% of market share will be absorbed, which is happening now. More union-trained persons work non-union today than in the entire existing trades union. The remaining union workers are seen as a pool of workers with best in class skills to be recruited. The non-anti has the jobs, along with several recruitment firms dedicated to get our best. Consider this, the non-union is recruiting our best hands; while the trades are recruiting helpers and basically anyone that will take a card. Not sustainable. It is all about hours today, but as of Friday, it will be about far more. Buckle up!
  • H-2B visas will open up and be rampant under a Republican Congress.
  • The last couple of sectors that use unions will fall rapidly when the ducks are set in a row.
  • There MAY have been a time that big end users would have kept us around. That window has closed given the circumstances and time parameters. With the failed Building Trades strategy of Value on Display not only failing, but also being used against us, labor can be sent packing. The end users and the world of construction get the skills, and can pay pennies on the dollar without Labor Agreements of any type.

Here is a link to a White Paper by the former Operating Engineers General President, J.C. Turner, on The Business Roundtable and American Labor, 1979. Perhaps this is why the Operating Engineers have fared better in market share in the last few decades than the rest of the Trades. They have kept their guard up and a chip on their shoulder, so to speak.  Http://!AmKOi71GyLcgqyK4lt5U8aRX-AAu

Labor Rising, Labor Combat has written 177 blogs with specific details of how to stop this. Solutions – Specific and DETAILED. We can reverse this situation. Our Founders prevailed in far more difficult times. However, time is not even remotely on our side for the foreseeable future.

Yet, in this predatory environment, has even one training session at the Internationals changed? Labor Rising is headed to the West Coast this week for training, and everything in our program has changed since the election.

Senior Leadership has come to use the term “BOLD INITIATIVES” frequently, without any corresponding earth shaking moves to demonstrate that it actually has BOLD initiatives past talking about them!  We view this new year to be about the “WILL” to change and adapt.

“if you see a good fight – get in it” Kind of like now!

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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