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Does the UA See the Iceberg in the Building Trades Waters – | Labor Rising
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Does the UA See the Iceberg in the Building Trades Waters –

If they do NOT – then the trades are in their final decade of viability as a free and independent trade union.

Why? In reports from organizer after organizer doing the UA blitzes, they report big numbers of ex and current UA members working non-union. This is also confirmed by the organizers who have attended Labor Rising/Labor Combat training from the UA; and as point of order, all trades organizers who have reported this since the inception of LR in 2012. This is just over 600 total organizers/agents.

The number reported directly to Labor Rising firsthand as a consensus number by UA Organizers is 20% + of ex and current UA members working non-union.

There is no longer any doubt that the non-union contractors WANT Building trades members to keep their union books up to date. The non-union wants the UA, and all BT members to be able to move between both the union and non-union jobs they work on. They want us to train and vet the workers which are used increasingly on non-union jobs! It is also a big part of the reason the big national and regional constructors have pushed for portability of workers and to be able to call for the workers they want – to bypass local hire and the lists of available hands maintained by the locals.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. 20%+ of union hands in boom years of great work are working non-union at any given point of time. 20% of 300,000 is 60,000 journeypersons!

The hidden part of the iceberg is no longer hidden, and it is hoped that the UA is acknowledging it with the actions it is taking in organizing. The total membership of both the UA and the rest of the BT sits at approximately 50% of all members who are 50 years old and older. 50% of all UA and BT workers are one DOWNTURN away in construction from joining the non-union or retiring, which WILL BE catastrophic to both the unions’ pension and membership health. 70% of the total membership is in play. Add in that the non-union has 88% of market share along with the iceberg described above; and the BT market share is clearly at risk to the viability of survival within a decade. The non-union recruiters are also making a solid push to recruit newly minted apprentices turned journeypersons. Many who have advanced welding credentials are being recruited to run jobs for the non-union.

Most/all of the biggest construction companies are in the early stages of being restructured and all are getting mean and lean using forensic auditing to lose unprofitable segments. They are moving to become specialty constructors. Mc Dermott is in talks with lenders to file bankruptcy. Its stock is being hit hard. Bechtel does not have a direct contract with any of the trades, nor do others. CBI, Fluor, Black & Veatch, Jacobs, KBR and others are all dumping unprofitable segments of their respective businesses – such as engineering, maintenance, heavy & highway, etc.

As these and other big national and regional constructors restructure/merge, many will become specialty firms with which the trades, and specifically the UA, have few – maybe zero – agreements. As specialty firms they collectively will employ fewer and fewer UA members and other trades. The UA and the other trades will do the higher end of the high skills work until they are no longer needed.

EVERY single major national and regional constructor is double-breasted. Most have more non/anti-union firms they use then union contractors; hence, why these firms want union workers to KEEP their books. They can move workers to and from union and non-union jobs they serve – almost at will!

Also, once the restructuring of the national and regional firms is complete, the trades can expect that they will be MANDATED to cede approximately 25% more in wages & conditions – over and above the concessions already ceded with Value on Display over the last 3 decades! The trades have zero leverage and will have even less, if that is possible, with a downturn in construction. This reduction of wages and packages is happening regardless of construction environments!

It is why the trades have approximately a decade – MAYBE – to get their house in order. Top priority of the trades is to lose the Value on Display quasi-BS strategy. Most likely not happening! And every year VOD remains counts against the trades going forward.

The UA being in the field in big numbers is the only intraconnected and structured organizing going on. Keep sitting on your butts other trades! The clock is running.

Labor Rising had many comments after the last blog. Many asked questions and some criticized us. The top comment was, we thought LR hated bottom-up, recruiting, top/down and Value on Display.

Yep – make no mistake – we do! Labor Rising sees them as combined losers per all numbers available over the last 3 decades. Some have a place as a tool inside a greater strategic campaign – but none or all can win in enough numbers to put the UA and or the trades back in the game.

We like the current tactics the UA is currently using because they are like the ante in a poker game. It is a starting point. First the International President of the UA had to even want to play – thankfully he did. Why:

  • Huge numbers of organizers/agents are confirming the sheer number of ex and current UA members working non-union by the blitzing they are doing. They are connecting the dots!
  • Huge numbers are working in concert with each other.
  • Huge numbers are being familiarized with labor law and the NLRB. Almost all for the first time.
  • Huge numbers will have connections with each other and can network with peers going forward. Mentors will emerge. It is hoped they have their names on a CBA. True organizers!
  • Huge numbers will learn how to handle the job – or not – balancing family, time on the road and the demands of the job.
  • Huge numbers will come to understand how hard it is to win a bottom-up campaign enough to raise membership numbers “NET”!
  • Many will learn the distinct differences between building trades and metal trades organizing.
  • Many will learn how to manipulate data in real time, do research and to WRITE and execute a plan.
  • And perhaps, many will learn that unless the UA and other trades IMPOSE a Collective Bargaining Agreement on a constructor and make them sign a CBA and/or be put out of business, we will lose! Hopefully the UA and other trades will learn how to grab the major constructors by the WALLET, build a Compression Zone, and get after the clients’ credit and social footprint of the national & regional players. And, keep our mouths shut. No more tri-partite meetings which continually inform the national and regional players where labor is at on the battlefield!

As LR stated in the prior UA blog – we hope they win – as in now! WE have zero problem being wrong. However, should the UA learn WHAT DOESN’T WORK AND WHY – it is hoped they will evolve to a strategy which will win!

The rest of the trades are still sitting in the lobby talking a good game of poker.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

UA Putting It on the Line Blog –

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