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McGarvey and the IPs with a Nowhere to go Strategy –

Soon after the inauguration leaders of the Building Trades, led by Sean McGarvey, met with President Trump. The video of the leaders’ effusive phase of the Trump meeting will be in scripted on the tombstone of the Trades. “We have a common bond with the President. We come from the same industry. He understands the value of driving development, moving people to the middle class.” In the video, McGarvey describes the meeting with Trump as probably the most incredible of our careers.

The Trade Unions seem incapable of understanding that Trump is not our friend – and even “IF” he was/is – what does that say about who we are? Jobs at any cost?

Of course, JOBS AT ANY COST! The current International Presidents and McGarvey, along with the leadership of the trades for the last 30 years, have created the perfect storm of incompetence across the board. They must have the obsession of “jobs at any price” or the good ole boys don’t have a gig and a check.

At the center of the storm is Value on Display – rooted in jobs at any price. Concession after concession to management for 3 decades. More and more lower wage classifications. Reduced wages, benefits and the jettisoning of Defined Benefits underway, along with conditions for 30 years, and yet the numbers across the trades continue to drop in every year Value on Display has been in existence as the trades’ strategy. Keep in mind that years leading up to 2006 were record years in construction. Now the last 3 years have even TRUMPED those years with approximately $1.5 trillion in work per year! But, read on for what that means to union labor because we continue to drop market share commensurate with construction gains.

Here are the trades’ membership numbers for 2016 LM-2:

LM-2 File Number: Active membership approximations (approximations because members mean different things to different trades. Many/most have some combination of Retired, Early Retired, Life Members, 40 Year Members, Honorary Members, Special Limited, Limited Members, Agency Fee Payers, Superannuated Members, Disabled Members, Exempt and Affiliate which are counted as membership.) The numbers posted below are from the 2016 LM-2 and are what is counted as Active Members “IN THE FIELD” but are approximations. So, check for yourself – link for getting Labor Departments LM-2:

FILE# 000-111 UA – 336,000    FILE# 000-052 IW – 103,000    FILE# 000-116 – IBEW 666,000    FILE# 000-159 OE 377,000    File# 000-131 Laborers 377,000 in the trades – excluding mail handlers and associates    FILE# 000-135 Roofers 17,000    FILE# 000-132 OPCMIA 39,000    FILE# 000-034 BAC 58,000    FILE# 000-035 IUPAT 98,000    FILE# 000-074 Boilermakers 53,000    FILE# 000-197 Elevator 26,000    FILE# 000-090 Insulators 22,000    FILE# 000-085 Carpenters 366,000    File# 000-073 SMART  LIST 204,000 – however 42,000 are in categories listed above. Also, SMW merged with Rail in 2012/2013. Last LM-2 as SMW showed approx. 92,000 Active.

Perfect Storm because Trump’s pledge to NOT repeal Davis-Bacon is worthless and ANYONE that thinks it isn’t going to get done along with other significant anti-worker/anti-union legislation would be long on odds in Vegas. 33 states with R’s controlling the legislatures along with the Federal Branches.

Perfect Storm because nearly ¼ of our Defined Benefit Pensions are insolvent or projected to be with that number rising.  Essentially the same leadership that has lost membership also governed over these funds. DOL list of troubled pension plans link.

Perfect Storm because management is using us in every way possible and then shoving us out the door as soon as they can, because they can. The numbers we see reflect that in EVERY alliance the trades have conducted “BUSINESS” with, those alliances continue reducing our market share over time. So, management doesn’t care 2 bits about the agreements they made with us. Its business! R’s could care less about workers and especially union workers. Both are doing what they have historically done – so why in the hell are we surprised?

How about those damn D’s – well, the progressive wing and the liberal wing of the D’s have zero use for us because we keep kicking them in the head. So, when you see Facebook posts as to what have the D’s done – this is the reason. Trades are a tweener – between being not liked to hated by the politicians and even labor affiliates.  The CIO was formed within the AFL and expelled in the 30’s, to then merge again in 1955.

Why? History tells us that Brother John L. Lewis wanted to organize the millions of workers in the nation’s industrial sectors. However, the trades refused to allow women, African Americans, Asian Americans and unskilled workers into THEIR Building Trades Unions and opposed any effort by OTHER unions to organize them. So, the CIO went on their own and created the living standards that we know today. Even since the merger in 1955 the trades have had a reputation of being exclusionary to this very day. When people are polled on would they want a union in their workplace – these are the unions they are thinking about. The trades can barely give books away.

If you want to challenge that, then get a picture of the main officers of your International Union today and tell me what you see. Good ole boys to the max! Any women, people of color? The convention magazine should do nicely. Taking care of your own is one thing – locking out people because… is an entirely different issue.

So, a Perfect Storm across the board, and we have put ourselves into this storm with eyes wide open. A legacy for the last several decades of losing. But hell, those on the LM get a check, so no worries.

A MOVEMENT – long lost, to be replaced by an organization of YES MEN serving business and complaining all the way to the bank as they rah rah the Rank & File who pay every bill!  An incapable lot that keep putting the future of workers in the hands of management and politicians. And so, they lose and cast that as victory in every meeting they attend! An arrogance of a magnitude of Trump himself.

This is the last group of IPs’ of any consequence, because the deck is so stacked against us and our actions that only a radical change across the top of leadership will change that. Reaching out to communities helps, but moves far too slow for what is happening to the trades today. Plus, communities may trust the local Building Trades leaders as acting in good faith; however, many have direct experience dealing with Internationals & national BT. Just ask the Blue/Green Alliance, and many others!

Headhunters on behalf of the non/anti-union are recruiting our best trained blue chippers faster than we can reload. And retirement is taking bodies. Should those retirees lose their promised, full benefits – drive another lighting bolt into the trades self-inflicted Perfect Storm.

Reaching out to women and people of color is the last-ditch hope of the trades to keep enough bodies to stay in the game. The acknowledgement of diversity is a good step – but only a step with next to zero dollars behind it other than a few employees, PR and photo ops. IF the trades are recruiting basically anyone who will accept a book and then placing the bulk of the women and people of color in lower wage and classification situations, as they are doing now, then the trades are still using people to line their own futures.

Should women and people of color wind up in real CBA work with an upward trajectory in roles and responsibility, then and only then will the trades have changed since the 30’s. Right now, most workers recruited go into specialty agreements at cut rate wages to COMPETE on price with non-union. Being used at its max, and those workers then go to the non-union fully trained and vetted.

The trades are a LABOR POOL to non/anti-union employers – which are approximately 90% of all the workers. Do the math.

A Perfect Storm, and the IPs continue to think that rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic will change the fate of a sinking ship!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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