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12 Reasons Why IBEW IP Stephenson et al are Going in the Wrong Direction in Advancing the Trades Thru Membership Development as a Primary Strategy –

12 Reasons Why IBEW IP Stephenson et al are Going in the Wrong Direction in Advancing the Trades Thru Membership Development as a Primary Strategy –

  1. In the IBEW Hour Power International President’s Message: A Pew Research study was cited, here is the link – while optimistic about the favorability of a “UNION” – The Pew study was both corporate and union favorability. Here is the correct title: Most Americans see labor unions, corporations favorably – Listed below is what will take all the wind out of the sails of big membership increases using a Strategy of Membership Development as a go too strategy! Unions in the research was NOT defined. Most of the responders would think of teachers, public sector, industrial, nurses, etc.
  2. Here is a link to an overview of the research which is well rounded and unbiased written by Shiva Maniam, he is a former research assistant focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center. Please read and scroll down to the bottom of the article for the Pew The (PDF) is available here – and methodology can be found here.
  3. It was question 50, and as even Pew admits – where and when a question is asked is very important. Also, the format and content of the questions can lead a responder to a response. Open ended questions and closed ended questions can help shape the data in a survey. Even with a quality organization such as PEW. Most of the analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted January 4-9, 2017 among a national sample of 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
  4. As you can see 746 surveyed of 1,502 responded to question 50. Here is the Methodology used for this research. This is part of the actual wording and please click on the link for the entire context of methodology. “A combination of landline and cell phone random digit dial samples were used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who is now at home. Interviews in the cell sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 year of age or older. For detailed information about the Pew survey methodology, see” “The combined landline and cell phone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and nativity and region to parameters from the 2015 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census.”
  5. Get out your phones Brothers and Sisters – PLEASE. Google how to become an electrician/or careers as an electrician (or any trade) in your respective city. So, Cincinnati, Tampa, Omaha, Boston, LA, etc. Use the search word “JOB’ or “Career”, Apprenticeship is seldom used as a search term. That can be verified with Google directly. They know the search terms down to a click in any given area. Chances are more than 80% that your union apprenticeship program is not listed on the first page, and less than 20%, that there is at least 1 search result. We know this because we did this exercise live in Labor Rising training, hundreds of times, and keep score. So, any continuing drive to recruit in an age of information drives more young persons to Community Colleges, Tech Schools, employers, head hunters, etc. NICE – we are doing their job for them.
  6. Retention – yep RETENTION! Only spoken about at the senior most levels. Not only is #5 true, but the IBEW et al are also training the non-union workers. Retention is hovering around 1:1 even with the winds of record levels of work in our collective sails. Most unions count members in. Those recruited and apprentices. Seldom is their an offset for retirees and those lost for several reasons. The biggest of those is lack of work. Time on a list, waiting. Time on the road and away from family and reciprocated hours screwing up benefits, especially Health & Welfare eligibility! Also understand that Baby Boomers span the era from 1946 to 1964. The oldest baby boomers started turning 65back in 2011, and many of them have already retired. So, retirees are not driving members leaving the trades as far as Baby Boomers are concerned. Many MEMBERS are taking their retirement and moving to the non-union. The trades in effect are TRAINING the majority of the non-union. Past and present! The consequences of a Value Centric, Value on Display strategy. Should Membership development/recruitment now be the center piece of the Trades – this version of the Trades dies. No time left for another failed strategy!
  7. Own the workers and own the market philosophy! With the non-union having 90% of the work, this is a hail Mary of the longest odds, say from the 5-yard line! Got to have the contractors to put those kind of numbers, even in 10% increments to work. Union contractors, NET is leaving and or double breasted. Think the unemployment list/book for jobs is long now, add 10% or more to it! Also, putting more recruited workers with existing contractors with solid amounts of work – IS NOT raising market share. Must have the contractors and their workers as a unit to increase market share – case closed!
  8. Reverse Recruitment – what? Reverse recruitment now in its 4th year and growing. So, Google Tradesmen International, ihirebuildingtrades, Trillium Construction Services, Labor Ready and several more. These companies are ALSO recruitment/head hunters of union tradespersons, not just temp agencies. They collectively recruit the trades for top hands. All vetted, trained and drug tested courtesy of the trades. They know when these union workers are off and are increasingly skilled at approaching them. Why? Because many of them are ex-members. They offer stable work relative to construction, signing bonuses, incentives to sign other tradespersons and more. If you think these jobs are not decent pay for solid hands, you would be wrong. More and more reports from field organizers attest that the non-union in many areas, are at, or above total package of the stripped-down BS Agreements and concessions given by the Internationals. These concessions of EVERY type where supposedly to gain market share – no sir! They are the very definition of the Race to the Bottom! No concessions to date have arrested the loss of market share “NET”!
  9. The Hail Mary of People of Color and Women in the trades! Both boxed out of the trades for decades; and if you know the trades history, excluded from membership for a time. As an Apprenticeship teacher for 9 years back in the 90’s, I had some of the first women to attend the apprenticeship. Life was nothing short of hell for them – and yet most preserved and became fine journey-women! To this day the Trades isn’t called the “good ole boys club” for nothing! Just check out any current pix of the total International senior leadership and good luck with diversity. Now – “IF” the trades have really changed then that is meaningful! How ever “IF” the Trades are USING women and people of color to shore up numbers – then that will be soon figured out! The groups we excluded are now the groups we need to just survive! And at the end of the day, those workers also need a job, which is dependent on a contractor! We are losing contractors “NET” – not gaining them, almost entirely because of a flawed strategy called Value on Display which appeases construction management and end-users! This flawed and failed strategy is giving way to the flawed strategy of membership development/recruitment.
  10. A PR nightmare is looming. Insolvency of many union defined benefit pension plans in many locals thru-out the trades. The Congress doesn’t appear to want to bail these unions out. So, should they fail, and benefits reduced measurably, the anti-union will hang this on the union stewardship of these trust funds. A couple of scores of funds have already gone to the PBGC, Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. This means those pensioners are getting .30 cents on the dollar – today!
  11. The betting odds is that “IF’ we get an Infrastructure Bill at all; all forms of anti-union rules will be attached. So, repealing PLA’s, prevailing wage, labor rights, etc. will be most likely attached. Just look at the NLRB Board under Trump.                                                                                                           In Less Than A Year, Trump Has Stripped Back Workers’ Ability To Unionize

His revamped labor board issued a slew of new policies at the end of 2017 that will make collective bargaining harder.                                                   

  1. Hours & Appeasement of management – that’s where the Trades are at Brothers & Sisters! Value on Display was borne out of collapsing market share in the mid 90’s. Those decisions were based on a path of least resistance. Selling a business brand of skills and training to management; and hoping they buy it with hugely discounted packages. Abandoning the MOVEMENT that was once the Trades! The Trades have had their share of bad decisions thru its history. However, becoming a BRAND will rank as the worse one ever. Every number for the past 4 decades attest to that! So now here we are late in the 4th quarter and we are going to tie our future to Membership Development, flying under the misnomer of Organizing. Our Founders defined Organizing! It is taking the company and putting that company under a Collective Bargaining Agreement regardless if it wants one or not! It is putting down and out of business bad actors in the construction industry! It is understanding SIC/NAICS codes, credit reports, technology, communications platforms, opposition research, hiring and the use of labor unrest and civil disobedience, controlling production, strikes, plus more!


Our collective of multiple generations of hand-picked International Presidents, void of a democratic process – along with Sean Mc Garvey; have completely ceded their roles of advancing workers agendas – in complete support of management!

The above 12 reasons of failure fall entirely on their shoulders –

All are heading business organizations void of any heat being placed on companies in favor of workers, union or not, and the Middle Class.

On your watch is the Middle Class turning into the Working Poor! On your watch, and history will be a harsh judge.

The numbers and evidence show you to be compromised in favor of management views and HOURS! Hours to feather individual’s (your) pocket and your political hacks pockets. To be organizations that are controlled by management demands. What would our Founders say if they saw the total surrender of a Free and Independent Labor Movement sold out!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Combat/Labor Rising

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