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“… the end of the beginning” | Labor Rising
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“… the end of the beginning”

“It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” ~ Winston Churchill WW II

Election Day is tomorrow and if anyone thinks the issue of national & state leadership will be settled – well snap out of it because it will not!

Thanks to a complete lack of activism in the streets for at least 5 decades, the trades are at the end of the Founders’ “beginning.” For the past 2 ½ decades, this is on the shoulders of the completely failed Value on Display “strategy” adopted by senior leadership to sell skills to customers.

If Trump wins, we can say goodbye to the trades as a free and independent movement for a time. Right to work, Davis–Bacon, prevailing wages, Project Labor Agreements, tort reform, National Labor Relations Board and pensions will ALL be on the chopping block – case closed!

It is in the strangest of worlds that union tradespersons will vote for a candidate who will annihilate the bread & butter issues that support their very own families’ current lifestyle and retirement future. No hyperbole what-so-ever – your pension WIL BE forfeit! However, that is where we are at today.

Value on Display has absolutely contributed to that schism. It is truly clear from social media posts (and our Labor Rising direct experience) that many, if not most, tradespersons believe that it is their skills that command the wages and benefits they receive. This is noticeably clear in how they speak. Long lost is the fact that it is the collective bargaining of the UNION that demands their compensation and benefits, not their individual skills. Of course, there is a simple test that these journeypersons can take to understand this – quit your union employer and take all your skills and credentials to the non-union! See how that works for you and your family – much less to the entire middle class of North America!

Value on Display is at the heart of this individualistic thinking and explains, to a large degree, why a union tradesperson votes against their own, their families’ and North America’s quality of life! What we are witnessing is a union of individuals that is divided against itself! Just ask most young tradespersons about non-union workers. Facebook is littered with venom of how the non-union workers are viewed by our large branch of entitled tradespersons! To be fair, they have only been exposed to VOD and know nothing of trench organizing & activism for a greater good. It is all about the TOYS, TATOOS & LOOKING BAD ASS! Just look at the FB pictures.

Bottom-up and recruitment just is not getting it done & it never has. To be fair, these so called “strategies” will not work even with the potential of pro-union legislation if Biden wins. We are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people.  Rather than ask, “What have R’s or D’s done for us?” I challenge each of us to ask the senior trades leaders & ourselves, “What have the trades done to advance workers and workers’ rights for the last 5 decades?”

Sadly, social media is ripe with streams of posts from leaders and members thinking that the trades have the POWER to demand anything from either party and/or management. The numbers of collapsing market share for decades make it absolutely clear that we cannot!  At the core of our declining numbers and strength is the complete abandonment of being a MOVEMENT – no activism, organizing or civil disobedience in the streets for decades, because truth be told the trades are led by impotent leaders who have no power to demand anything. And if we think if can’t get worse with this group of International Presidents – it will.

If Biden wins, the “crab mentality” of the Trumpian party will be in full swing – “if I can’t have it, neither will you.” Unions and the trades will be in a scorched earth pattern from election day through to inauguration day. There will not be a “lame duck” period for R’s should Biden win. They will do everything in their power to hurt workers, pensions and economies so they can capitalize on the devastation 2 & 4 years later. A lot of damage can be done in 2 months! And for those who feel Trump’s administration has been bad, what will be unleashed will be devastation that is much more planned and exacting.

So, the resurgence of COVID, a contested election, likelihood of right-wing violence, holiday stress, the 2% raking in money at the expense of the working class and market volatility – just to name a few elements – will also be in play after election day through inauguration! 

So, Biden is rightfully planning a transition – he sure as hell needs to do so! Tradespersons will be part of it. Good! However, senior trades leaders will likely project an inflated sense of self and begin to demand attention. Although as of now with a fragmented and diminishing membership, they are devoid of any type of power.

So, what can they do? First and foremost, early on they should shut up and put up by delivering on actions and even threats, served up cold. Now’s the time they should be developing a plan for this scenario, including a series of regional and even national strikes against major anti-union construction entities. A plan to reshape the trade MOVEMENT should be in order – selective, concerted actions served up cold and designed to target clients, credit, and perception of the big construction players & end-users. But lo and behold, any such plan is nowhere to be found.

What else? How about shut up and quit meeting with those sectors of construction that ALL have less of a trade presence than even a decade ago! Quit working on jobs alongside of non-union. Quit bailing out jobs when they are done poorly by the non-union and then being showed the door time after time when the trades fix the screw ups!

Biden can only do so much – it is on us to build workers rights’ initiatives and champion “bread & butter” issues. That narrows the R & D divide considerably. It is the antithesis of a Trumpian mindset.

And it will make activists out of our entitled primadonna tradespersons who think only union workers can build. To grow workers’ markets and RAW POWER, we have to organize non-union workers and companies!

Only a return to trench organizing and IMPOSING CBA’s on construction companies can repair our pensions and grow our collective power. Dealing for “hours” has been and will continue to be fatal. It is on the International Presidents to get busy!

Labor Rising has zero confidence they can or will! So, who will?

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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