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If You Can’t Throw a Jab – The Trades Will Never Win Market Share –

Yep, a jab my Brother & Sister Organizers/Members/Boxers! For the past 40 years or so the trades have fought with both arms tied behind their backs. Value on Display has not knocked out, much less won, most decisions on points in 40 years. A loser with the record to prove it!

The Internationals are the promoters. As long as they have enough fights (jobs & hours) they are content with the commissions (paychecks, pensions, perks, dues) on the purse. However, the promoters’ boxers (members) are getting hit in every which way, both physically & economically, throughout the fight in terms of wages, benefits, conditions, etc. The senior leaders are themselves insulated from any hits to their livelihoods or persons. Promoters (aka the trades as a temp agency) are putting any fighter (trades-person) they can RECRUIT in the ring (job), with the terms dictated to them by management!

The trades members (boxers) are the punching bag in the pseudo L/M relationship, taking hit after hit and returning none of them. In fact, they are penalized if they dare to jab back – not by management,  but by their OWN Internationals! 

Organizers are in an even worse position. In our Founders’ time thru to the late 60’s, trade organizers knew or learned how to throw jabs (organize). And, even had some power punches to knock out management when needed.

Labor Rising knows firsthand that the trades have organizers who can or will learn how to jab! Labor Rising also knows firsthand that for every organizer we have taught to jab, the Internationals WILL NOT let them – case closed! Hundreds of ORGANIZERS Labor Rising has trained throughout the trades have either quit, been fired, or been moved to other positions when they choose to jab with effect. Labor Rising knows the names of every one of them.

Bottom-up is the closest thing the trades has for using at least 1 arm in the fight. However, just like a jab most of the trades’ organizers do not know how and when to use it!

A jab (bottom-up) can be used offensively or defensively. A solid boxer, much less a great boxer (organizer) knows and goes to school on the various forms of jabs, whether it be: regular, tapper, space-maker, power, double, body, counter, etc.

Now when the trades refer to using a “tool-box” to organize, jabbing (organizing for effect, to sign a CBA) should be included AND USED! Solid boxers can and will win most of their fights with nothing more than knowing how to effectively use all the jabs in their arsenal.

For example:  Marvin Hagler was one of the greatest fighters, although he was not a world-class athlete like some of the opponents he faced. He made up for that by training hard and having the discipline to get the most out of his ability, and he was an excellent jabber. Was he also a solid power puncher? Absolutely! But ask him how effective his power punch would have been without using his arsenal of jabs!

Organizers who use a one-size-fits-all style of bottom-up organizing will win some campaigns – much like a boxer who has a jab that fits the handful of fights it would be effective in. However, they would not have a winning record (market share) just knowing the one-size-fits-all style of bottom-up/jabbing.

Just like a boxer, an organizer has to know WHEN to use different styles/types of bottom-up. When to sign cards, in what environment/market, prevailing laws, knowledge of management using the NLRB, true sentiments of workers, community environment, trust, how to legally and effectively use hiring laws to stymie the non-union in securing workers  – along with many other factors of organizing (styles/types of jabbing) is critical to winning. Can an organizer/boxer bring enough heat to outright win a CBA (knockout)? Impose a TKO on management (perhaps a PLA – but with the trades setting the majority of the conditions, not management)? Win on points – (bringing enough heat on a job or market in a sustained fashion) especially on markets where management has ALWAYS had non-union on a job?

The second arm that has been tied behind an organizer’s back is solid opposition research, opposition websites, real credit reports, labor law as it pertains to recognition along with secondary laws and more. We’re talking complete and developed research on the end-user, developer, construction manager, and far more, including the use of VOD in correct and specific circumstances, taught to then deliver power punches set up by the jab to those that use anti/non-union construction companies. Labor Rising’s fight ring is the Compression Zone, which is developed research reduced to specific actions regarding the contractors and those that use them. Using the Compression Zone, the organizer (boxer) can distinguish between who to work with vs. who to face with gloves on!

VOD is NOT one of the arms of organizers (boxers) tied behind their backs in and of itself. It is a tool or one of the many styles/types of jabs. But it CANNOT win on its own in big enough numbers to increase market share. It is just PART of the arsenal that a great organizer (boxer) uses to win rights for workers inside a MOVEMENT of and for workers!

Organizers (boxers) live a life of hard work to get to the top – not for just a day, a week, or a month, but for many years if not a lifetime. And, you generally do not retire from organizing. You are either doing, teaching, coaching, supporting, or advocating for your life’s passion throughout your life. It is what you leave to your children and their children! It is in your blood, to be part of the balance between labor and management. A MOVEMENT that outlives you individually and is passed on! VOD has broken the MOVEMENT of workers and is a mere business philosophy now. That is WHY it cannot and has not advanced workers’ rights during its entire existence. It is a business tool, and not a workers’ strategy!

Money and budgets help; however, our Founders and then the Greatest Generation organized in far worse conditions than exist today with next to nothing in terms of money. Today the trades TALK a good game or fight. The Internationals are afraid of stepping into battle.

Labor Rising is always perplexed by the number of posts on Facebook about what labor has done for Canadians and American workers. That list is long. The list is also approximately 60 years old & more! The answer is my generation (men & women between ages 55 to 75 years) consisting of pseudo labor leaders who have done nothing but coast on the shoulder of the giants who created a MOVEMENT of and for workers many decades ago!

Stop with the BS stickers, shirts and thinking that we are badass. The trades have to earn the right to be badass, just like a boxer – IN THE RING! All talk stops once inside the ring! The standard of living is what establishes whether the trades are winning. It has declined my entire life in the trades and continues to do so, with the real prospect of disappearing entirely – ON OUR WATCH!

Labor Rising has been dedicated to training an army of organizers (boxers) to win, in a fair but pitched battle! The INTERNATIONALS have prevented it at all times, with the exception of the UA. The UA hopefully will evolve into using a bigger toolbox of jabs and perhaps bring both arms into the fight!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Trump Did Not Cause Chaos – Chaos Caused Trump –


Karl Rove’s (The Architect) masterful use of party partisanship is a political game that few in Washington can play. His plan was to build a permanent R Majority in the Federal Government. What he understood was that the majority of U.S. citizens gravitate towards the center, with most tilting right or left but not far from center! That seems like an eternity ago.

The point here is that Rove knew that by keeping all Republicans acting on sharp partisan votes, the perception that the Democrats are also a partisan party would emerge. We are talking about developing citizen partisanship in the “extreme”.

Turns out Rove was far too nice. His version of “extreme” was still “establishment Republican” and not really all that extreme. However, who was paying attention to this strategy was the Tea Party, which started in early 2009 and the House Freedom Caucus started in 2015 – funded by the Koch Brothers, et al. The Tea Partiers concluded that the Newt Gingrich Contract with America failed in part because the political partisanship was not extreme enough! Enter the Steve Bannon’s of the world, who are no fans of Karl Rove. Breitbart News was founded in 2007 by Andrew Breitbart. Upon Breitbart’s death in 2012, Bannon was named editor continuing the opening of the flood gates to a new style of governance. [Thanks to Brother SWS of the IBEW for a correction to these details].

Along with the increasing extreme partisanship that the Tea Party used in saying NO to both D’s and establishment R’s, these disrupters masterfully infused fear-based politics. “Primarying” establishment R’s and vetoing any legislation that is not 100% consistent with their narrow agenda is their MO! Primarying has been around since the 70’s and even before; however, in the 2004 – 2006 election cycle both D’s & R’s cranked up aggressive primary campaigns. The R’s found yet another gear in using primarying as an effective tool for ideological groups to threaten any moderate/reasonable R’s types!

The Club for Growth started in 2000, providing increased funding for alt-right candidates. The D’s, with a far bigger tent of constituents, could not compete in the corresponding far left campaigns of primarying.

Ironically, if the D’s had developed a similar or identical strategy, the U.S. would still be in the exact same position – HUGELY POLARIZED! The D’s have many self-interest groups that just cannot get it together.

Our political environment is one of neighbor against neighbor, using hyperbole, extreme rhetoric, flat out lying, etc. to get a super narrow agenda passed. How narrow? As an example, approximately 150 R Federal Judges thus far and counting – to serve for life! And, yes, the D’s would do it too given the chance. Who really should be pissed are the young R’s, D’s & I’s inheriting a Justice Branch without any input? They have been locked into a life of laws not of their own choosing. Also, they inherit debt, roll back of regulations & rules across the board – all done while we watch the shiny objects. Our country’s Founders screwed up by not writing into law that 2/3 vote is needed in ALL judicial lifetime appointments. Well, they kind of did, but Harry Reid found a way around it (going nuclear) and Mitch McConnell has perfected it. Poll after poll measure positions that are increasingly extreme. Nearly 40% – 50% disengagement of the electorate tells the story of the citizen voter. Voter disfranchisement is a close second. The R’s are particularly good at this. It is fine with the extremes that approx. ½ of our citizens sit out or are pushed out of voting! So, we end up with a government in the extreme either to the right or left (currently alt right), a Trumpian Party – which is a true minority government.

Far too few voters and even many trades Brothers & Sisters do not use true Fact Checking services as they want to believe that which validates their fears. They are only a click or two away from solid news. Not fake news – cited and sourced facts in context. Both far left and alt right wing have many sites that create a lot of misinformation. For those who see President Trump as the second coming to those that see him as the anti-Christ, not much can help them. For the rest do some homework and post it!

Hence the title of this blog. Chaos -structured chaos has been building for decades. With the trades on the sidelines, along with much of labor for decades, fear-based politics has grown almost in direct proportion to labor’s loss of market share.

The coronavirus did not break America. It revealed what was already broken.

Tolerance of each other IS NOT acceptance. But in this hyper-state we are told it is. Most issues that affect the average citizen have a consensus, compromise, or pragmatic solution available if the parties would work to achieve it. For the last few decades this has been nearly impossible because of political fear replacing integrity. We are now at a point of either/or in a country of realists who instinctively know that such dualistic thinking creates impossibilities in a nation of 330 million people with 40 religions and 140’ish nationalities.

The Trades, whose members politically represent American voters probably better than any other group, have been sitting on the sidelines for approximately the same length of time. Why? Because of a strategy of concession and appeasement to get any crumbs they can get, along with the totally failed strategy of Value on Display!

The Trades have ceded their role as a MOVEMENT and as champions of workers. The trades have abandoned being a bulwark to organized capital in the U.S. and Canada! If Labor and the BT narrow the divide between the haves and the have nots, right and left can close towards the middle.

The trades, being absent in the fight for so long, and in fact working with management, has helped the extremes take root and empty the pockets of workers! Organizing is taking management on – directly, and in some cases in a no-holds-barred fashion to force management to come to the table for consensus or compromise. The trades and labor are that important. Workers’ rights, pay inequity, racial inequity, safety being transferred to the worker, building in unsafe working conditions, limitations and destruction of benefits, collapsing market share and density numbers, which are all measurable, rest on the shoulders of current and recently former trades senior leadership abandoning the roles the FOUNDERS built!  

When WORKERS’ pockets are full, along with the self-esteem work provides, and they see a balance of labor and management, they don’t fall for the extremes but talk in much more measured tones. We all benefit. The extremes, whether right or left, can go jump in the lake! When workers see lives collapsing around them, including those of their kids and other family, they are susceptible to fear.

Our International Presidents have settled for being a temp agency, except maybe the UA, which is on the fence. The trades find bodies and do what they are told by management. The trades are in fact losing market share even in record years of construction, hoping that the millennials who have polled strongly in a pro-union direction are taking a flyer on joining the trades in any kind of numbers. This group is growing strong in their beliefs. As they mature into activists (and stay the course as our Founders did) they will not want to be a part of “union” with old, stale, and pale businessmen leading them – not happening!

A MOVEMENT is energy in an organic form: Knowing right and wrong. Built on fairness and transparency. Being part of something bigger than ourselves. Providing the balance of ORGANIZED workers to take on organized capital. TAKING ON – NOT CAPITULATING!

As we emerge from COVID-19, we can take advantage of an opportunity to reignite workers! But, many organizers are furloughed to save money. Or they are studying Labor Law, which is ALMOST a complete waste of time in the current environment. And, while much of the country is effectively learning and working from home as they shelter-in-place, I have only found 19 organizers who are new to the group that has learned to effectively use cyber-organizing.

We in the trades are soon approaching the point of considering: “Is it better to let the existing trades die (go out of BUSINESS) and be reborn?” It is on you – senior leaders – history is a harsh judge!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat



Band of Brothers & Sisters –

For those of us not familiar with the work of construction annalist Ed Zarenski – here is a link to his latest construction updates. 

He is a non-alarmist or drama queen in his assessments.

He does call it the way the numbers stack up. 

The trades need a plan and here are just some of the numbers at the macro level the senior leaders need to consider – now!

When Labor Rising said in our last blog, that coming out of COVID-19, that it was going to be CURT’s way or the highway!

We don’t pull statements like that out of thin air. We never have.

With a long Easter weekend – time to further our homework and ask very pertinent questions of the trades senior leaders come Monday. 

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity –

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising 

Will COVID–19 Sound the Death Knell for Value on Display –

Surviving COVID-19 is going to require a plan for the trades to continue to exist much less grow. Prior to this pandemic, the big construction users were very close to consolidating their business models into specialty contractors and vendors. If anyone in senior leadership down to the apprenticeship doesn’t think that coming out of COVID-19 will be the construction users’ way or the highway for the trades in particular — snap out of it! Labor Rising can think of hundreds of millions of lost profits why that will be the case! A fancy acronym, a brand or a snazzy Power Point by the trades is not going to cut it – a real nuts and bolts written plan can. Think of the North America style of business dating back during the Industrial Revolution, and now apply it going forward! Workers are expendable – NOT essential.

At a minimum, an effective written plan would include:

  • Aspirations – aka mission statement – we in the trades are good at this! But what we suck at is:
  • Core Values
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats
  • Objectives (past the obvious), strategies (written & flexible) and operational tactics
  • Measurements & timelines to re-evaluate (minus egos) and funding

However, before we can execute a written plan, we need to be able to:

  • Do real and in-depth research. True Organizers are at their core researchers! Some, internationals are capable of research. However, the sheer number of requests, along with the quality of the requests, are time wasters to the highest degree. Also, many internationals are limited by the vendors that they use. The type of info and quality matters to the degree to which we can be effective.

Ms. Jennifer Cave of Rochester Research Association (RRA) has given me permission to share her/our first-generation links to these research videos. Consider them Research 101, as they provide 2 ½ hours of solid, basic info we have historically shared only in Labor Rising training. Upcoming times in workers’ lives are looming to be particularly challenging, so thank you Ms. Jenn! Also attached is a template of what RRA searches. This is a proprietary document. However, it is now expanded and updated in many ways so RRA will let us share an older version with organizers and agents. The completed research comes to you in a well-formatted document, with highlights of items of interest to the Building Trades. At Labor Rising, we have zero financial interest of any type in RRA. We use them because they are best in class! Fees for research vary. But consider a journeyperson’s package per hour and know that it comes down to how in depth the union wants the research to be. RRA knows how to search the deep/dark web. And, by the way, if you don’t know the difference between that and a simple Google search – then learn. They also can build an Opposition Website and have far more capabilities.

Rochester Research Associates # 585-471-6056   Website – Ms. Jenn Cave – President

Intro to Rochester Research via Labor Rising –!AmKOi71GyLcgq1akY0LFWV-04vmI?e=TYziwK

NOTE: may take a bit to download.

  1. Part 1.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm5vfKnYL54OVKUw?e=MVDkyv
  2. Part 2.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm18mice3bKELcBU?e=hFLkJa
  3. Part 3.!AmKOi71GyLcgqmvssIASJ68cJ7Ni?e=WySlMa
  4. Part 4.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm8DfJPmBWDzbgoc?e=cv79WL
  5. Part 5.!AmKOi71GyLcgqmzN04eeM7Z9Rpkt?e=ZTJ357
  6. Research Template –!AmKOi71GyLcgnBsIaJK0z36D27iD?e=jzbOEW


  • You also need to be able to work in Excel, we know from experience that 85% or more of existing organizers don’t know how to use Excel as an organizing tool. Here is an old link of a BT union on Excel to practice on:!AmKOi71GyLcg3GqIVslwrNY4SWSm?e=oDblNQ Download it as a start. Now can you sort by column (as long as your spreadsheet is formatted that way) the respective revenues of companies in order to plot them on a revenue scatter chart. How do we build respective charts, graphs, etc. in Excel? Can you select the cell or range of cells that you want to format? Can you share the document and when changes are made by another organizer flag yours to reflect that change? Can you add articles, media, documents etc.? There is so many more valuable capabilities available with this research data. For those of you who know how to use it appropriately – teach the others. For those that can’t – learn!

Hopefully – organizers and agents understand what is being asked. If not, then go back to school in concentrated doses. We were all apprentices at one time or another – be open to learning again, and not just a couple of hours a week for 4 months. NOW is the time because we have the time! So, if the international can’t connect with you at home or in the office or wherever you may be working these days, and if they don’t offer you a genuine expert to teach you how to handle this necessary data via Excel and other software – we are going nowhere.

For those who have a mission-driven BM/DC officer, go to It is the site most LR organizers use to improve their skills. Don’t bother scrolling for info after a few minutes. Go to the research bar and ask how to do Excel formatting 101. Excel alone has approximately 17,000 entries last time I checked. Call customer service and they can help you help yourself. Get a computer training center trainer to come in and teach you and your group in concentrated doses. DO IT! You don’t need to be an expert, just a solid journeyperson in moving and manipulating data.

  • Go 2 Meeting, Skype for business, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. You’ve got to know how to use these apps for many reasons, and COVID-19 is as good as any. These apps offer person-to-person connection for organizers, salts, peppers, activists and workers (both union and non-union) via technology. Blend this platform and Excel together for in-house meetings to transfer info and lock down on a strategies and tactics in real time with minimal communication errors. Think Navajo Code Talkers – the info is in a timely and hard-hitting format to deliver on organizing with NO HOLES!

This is where cyber-organizing wins. This is not a fancy name, but rather a real ability to connect to the non-union. You need this type of platform and the skill to use it. You need a mass texting platform. You need cell numbers of the non-union workers. Be honest – are you still using a yellow lined note pad to track and answer the questions of scores of unorganized workers? For pennies on the dollar you can use a platform like these to communicate with non-union workers to provide education and conduct organizing drives. Use these platforms to send out every type of info you otherwise hand out in small numbers. You can do one-on-ones with non-union workers once they have sufficient info and have developed interest. The platforms can be used in many ways. For example, who cares if management gets in and listens? Everything we SHOULD be saying is legal and it is documented. Establish options in the communications platform to be a one-way system where those on-line can only hear you. Have participants type questions so no one has to speak. Spouses and workers can both get the info they need. It can be done in multiple languages. Learn my Brothers & Sisters.

Most importantly, when a connection and underlying trust is established with a worker and family, get ALL the info you can on business practices including ALL the parties up and down the business line. Do not fall for “I don’t know” and weasel words. Fill in the business puzzle! We can’t just organize workers – WE HAVE TOO TAKE THE COMPANY ALSO! Or – put them down.

Bottom line, we can’t be on the sidelines any longer during and after COVID-19 – not if you are in the trades. From all Collective Bargaining issues through pensions, life is going to change baby! Is it going to change for the better, which is going to be a fight? Or are the trades going to think the BS status quo of Value on Display is our play?  If anyone up and down the ranks think that “they need us” (The Building Trades) snap the hell out of it!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

The Same Building Trades Hacks Who Sunk the Pensions Sunk Organizing –

Hacks is as strong a term as I can find given the circumstances of my generation of leaders – starting in approximately 1970 and persisting through today. Let us see if it unfortunately fits! Many times, in our Blogs, Labor Rising has been less than flattering to senior Building Trade leadership. Read on and you will see precisely why!

The Coronavirus stimulus package was passed last Friday with zero major multi-employer pension funding relief in it. Republicans won’t provide relief because all indicators point to them using the Trojan Horse of underfunded pensions as a way to eight-six unions, including the trades. And Democrats, most likely, are using it now, as in the past, as bargaining leverage. Yep – bargaining leverage. All evidence points to unions being used to further other agendas. MAYBE PBGC relief can be squeezed into an upcoming stimulus package. That is doubtful, and even if so, the PBGC would only fund $0.30 cents on the dollar of insolvent pensions. For several years now the union pension “can” has been kicked down the road even by Democrats. This disaster of under-funding has been on the radar screen since the late 90’s.

I know this because I spoke to large numbers of pension trustees back then in over 80 forums, from the late 90’s until 2008. At these forums only a few trustees were in attendance because so many of them were out and about on fund money sightseeing, golfing, drinking, etc.!

I use the term hacks because that’s what the majority of trustees were then! When I read comments, even today, on Facebook saying that the government and markets sunk our pensions, I know I’m dealing with an uninformed member and/or a politician – and perhaps even a current day hack repeating national BT’s and Internationals’ talking points. THEY are playing the VICTIM well! Labor Rising has personally gone through nearly 250 multi-employer pension filings and knows firsthand how the “hacks” paid out huge amounts of benefits that would not be covered long term. In nearly every organizing training class Labor Rising teaches, we help organizers understand and address how to deal with the underfunded pension issue should it exist.

And to be fair, the trustees minted after approximately 2006 are far better trustees than in my generation of the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. They are left with the underfunded mess of “where are we going to find the money” vs. in my day “what are we going to do with the money?”

As members, we can’t say what my generation said, “Put the money on the check” for over 30 years and then near retirement time throw in a few bucks in contributions for a few years and think we can sustain 100% – 300% increases of benefits for 25 – 30 years in retirement. The math has NEVER worked out!

Why is Labor Rising so adamant in stating this? It is for the following reasons:

  • We have to own up to the under-funding. As long as we play victims and blame everyone but ourselves, we will never be trusted. We were all taught to “man/woman” up to bad actors, even in our own house, and take responsibility for our actions. To quote President Eisenhower, “Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” Until this happens, the non-union and union workers know we are “leaders” without integrity! More accurately, we are piss poor politicians and most likely even worse – modern day hacks. Many members didn’t know they were in fact digging their own graves of under-funding – but trustees of my generation absolutely knew.
  • The numbers correlate very highly that where pensions are in trouble with funding levels today, those same locals/DCs/Internationals also failed to keep market share. Reverse engineer the numbers and see if that isn’t true. They were thug officers/organizers at best and coasted on the shoulders of the Founders! They failed as leaders across the board.
  • Quite a few of those local/DC leaders are still around today, many in high office. And unbelievably many of the wannabe leaders of today still come from this cast. Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Our combined Building Trades culture is compliant to management granting concession after concession! The trades have “NO” winning strategy to date!
  • COVID-19 is likely going to hurt at a historical level. All of labor, but especially the trades, can reshape the current culture shaped by decades of losing market share and being the stooges of management. A MOVEMENT of workers borne out of a disaster would put us collectively back in the good graces of the Founders! For those taught about cyber-organizing by Labor Rising – this is the time to use it. With most workers being at home, now is the time to put that tactic to use! Talk/via technology to increasing numbers of workers and extract huge amounts of info from the worker along with their fears and hopes. As importantly, extract the info on the contractors up and down the chain from the end-user to the sub. Find every Achilles heel and plan from there. We at Labor Rising call it a Compression Zone, knowing exactly who to work with – or to put down hard.

Unlike the Miners back in the day with Black Lung disease, where the miners wanted better for their families and traded their life for that chance, COVID-19 is worse. It will take entire families and communities given the chance! Workers, union or not, need a collective voice. A leader who can acknowledge past transgressions and move to fix them, should be in power now! Dump the dead weight of senior leaders, rank & file! Carpe diem, seize the day! Both workers and country WILL be better off! Example: Some underfunded funds, should they get to 140% of funding, can elect to buy an annuity. I use this example because management “if working in good faith” can structure jobs and even PLA’s to help that happen. That would be labor-management cooperation. And to date I have NOT seen one article or notice to that fact from any of the BT affiliates. If someone’s got one – please post it in comments. Purchasing an annuity is NOT ideal; however, it may very well be far better than an insolvent pension and insolvent PBGC. I pray/hope (not a good strategy mind you) that The Butch-Lewis Act can pass. It also has some issues and depends on what the final version looks like to fully understand it – or does it just kick the pension can down the road?          

  • Increasing contractors and workers via true organizing, along with going toe to toe with the anti-union, when needed, is the only way to insure a middle class. Coming out of COVID-19, even the BT may very well be reduced to being working class if Value on Display remains as the go-to strategy of the trades.

We need a return to the Building Trades with a foundation of integrity and leadership on behalf of all workers. “ALL” that stands between that goal and the present is a BS culture that has long outlived its time!

Ironically, Labor Rising is reminded that BT unions mostly came about to bury those workers killed on the job. History is reminding us that we have a mission and selling bodies and hours isn’t It! Changing the conditions of all workers for the better – is!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Is COVID a Wild Card for the Building Trades and Labor?

You may think this is no time to be talking about organizing. Let me shed light on a perspective worth addressing. While the plight of COVID takes shape and affects all North America, be assured that some (most) people’s pain offers an opportunity for extreme groups to advance their agenda.

Fighting the battles of organizing and getting our ducks in a row while the COVID war is being waged is essential. A cornerstone of Labor Rising Organizing is in depth market research – chart building and far more. What we have is time to build REAL info, not the BS currently taught. It will take months.

In the last 2 blogs Labor Rising has continued to cite verified numbers, making the case to move to hard core organizing and to put the Value on Display (VOD) DISASTER back in the genie bottle! It is the strategy that has failed across 4 decades and in every economic environment, in conjunction with every generation of trades senior leadership teams failing. Some trade(s) should have been able to figure out how to make VOD a winner, but none have – it is the VOD strategy that is the loser! It would be of immense help if our senior leaders would again be labor leaders – but they continue to think of the trades as a product/service to sell!

In the last 2 blogs and several others from 2012 to the present, Labor Rising clearly showed that the union trades are in fact being reverse-recruited, and that our combined training programs are training for both the union and non-union sectors. No spin or BS can dismiss the fact that MORE & MORE union trained workers work non-union. The trades have put themselves in this position which includes reverse-recruiting of union members, hiring policies in the halls that allow contractors to pick and choose and the total capitulation of senior trades leaders, to cite just a few.

Labor Rising’s trend lines indicated in the last blog that the union trades had maybe 10 years to again become a MOVEMENT and quit being a temp agency. With every year of the 10 lost, reversal becomes that much harder to accomplish.

With COVID just ramping up and so many unknowns due to lack of testing, workers are going to get hammered. And union construction is near or at the top of that list. Government workers will likely be blown out with the current declaration of a National Emergency. God forbid the threat of Martial Law becomes a reality, which would waive every type of law, including labor laws and Collective Bargaining Agreements, etc.

Before COVID, management of construction were working an effective strategy of letting us do all the vetting and training in our apprenticeship training programs, and then reverse-recruiting those skills over to the non-union as needed – a hugely successful strategy, as the non/anti-union market share has grown steadily in every decade since VOD has been the trades’ strategy.

Construction owners may not want the destruction of the trades. Especially since we have been lap dogs for decades with concessions of every type of conditions & packages. However, the anti-union see a path to knocking union labor out, including the trades. And COVID, in many ways, is the perfect Trojan Horse to accomplish that. With the “perfect storm” of COVID, Scalia at the Labor Department, Trump as the President, McConnell as Senate Leader and the anti-union entities like ALEC, RTW, CPAC, Heritage Foundation, et al, major changes are already underway.

While the Rank & File will mobilize using their skills to help all citizens union or not, many as volunteers/many as essential services, anti-union forces will be at work behind the scenes to knock labor down and out given the chance.

These groups have learned the lessons from pro-union periods during WW I till the 1950’s. Union density was at its max – 30% in 1960. So, in the late 60’s The Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable, now simply known as the Business Roundtable, and later The Construction Users Round Table (CURT), were borne!

From then until now, the trades side of the labor equation has been systematically attacked by the above entities. I have shared several times the White Paper of JC Turner, Former General President of the Operating Engineers written in 1979. He was spot on in ALL areas of the White Paper! Here is the link. Few have read it in the past postings – lets see if readership improves:!AmKOi71GyLcgqyOmg3JjY_OKGTEi?e=5Ci2TC

The trades senior leadership have put us collectively in harm’s way with all the political BS over decades – along with the adoption of Value on Display. Robert Georgine’s capitulations to the Roundtable in the 70’s opened the door for most of the specialized agreements we see today. Add in Value on Display, which has its roots in the 90’s and was put on steroids in the early 2000’s by the trades as a “strategy” to recover work, and the trades leadership has clearly ceded their role as a Labor Movement under their watch!

Leading the list of threats to the trades are our pensions. The anti-union sees these pensions imploding in on trades. They know many funding wounds are self-inflicted. Bottom line is union leadership promised far more benefits than can be paid for; substantial liabilities that will not be paid putting those funds in jeopardy. True the “government” imposed rules around funding levels and markets have faltered. However, then ALL funds would be in nearly the approximate set of circumstances, and they are not! Many, but not enough Trustees, held the line in giving out benefits unless they were PAID for!

Reverse engineer your funds and see if those statements aren’t true and score high on the Fact Checking meter! Here is the link of the Multi-employer pensions that are currently in trouble as of 2019.  The 2020 list is due out soon; however, it is the 2021 list to watch out for if you’re vested.

The anti-union has little more than to push a few initiatives to cause an implosion of union pensions. The anti-union has other avenues to weaken and destroy union labor – but pensions are our biggest Achilles heel and require the anti/non-union to do little to achieve a lot!

Four threats loom on the immediate horizon for the pensions – all pensions, not just those on the list!

The anti-union knows that…

  • Hours – down across the board even in good construction times, as in the case of the last few years. Hours and market returns drive the ability of a pension fund to promise a level of benefits. Hours are trending down overall because of loss of market share and increasing use of technology in construction delivery. We can’t control the use of technology, nor should we. However, we can control organizing workers. Value on Display and recruiting has NEVER and will NEVER get hours up to where they need to be to have both a career, a pension and most likely an affordable Health & Welfare benefit. Hours are a huge part of the trades’ viability to secure our pensions! They also are mandatory to have political influence. No politician must listen to most state, local & national BT affiliates as they are either too weak or not to be found.
  • Markets, both stocks and bonds – The S&P average return is 9.8% over the last 90 years. The funds typically use the S&P benchmark. ALL the trades’ multi-employer funds hover around a 7% actuarial assumption +/- ½ %. Simply stated, after all fees, commissions and administration costs are paid, does the fund meet the 7% assumption? If at the end of year, year after year, if the realization is less than 7%, then the Fund is underwater on schedule of benefit payments promised. Add in hours that are at, above or under those needed by the Fund and you have a starting point of calculating benefits and the sustainability in the future. There are some other very important components of time that factor into a fund. Pensions ARE NOT Ponzi schemes – although they can look that way to members when the leading trustees play politics with the funds returns and spent far more time on the golf course with the respective managers. Example: The S&P is 9.8% just on the stock side of the investment funds which is typically 60% of the total asset allocation. A trade fund typically spends approximately 1½% in administration and fees. Now that number is 8.3% on 60% of funds. Remember that different types of stock investing also can affect the return by+/-, such as small caps. 40% of investments can be in fixed investments, like different types of bonds. Bonds seldom in a fund’s history hit a composite return of 7% after fees. USUALLY fixed investments are a drag on investment return but are strongly needed to balance the long-term volatility and returns. Now add in hours to the above equation. What was full time employment 10 years ago is NOT what full time employment has been the last 5 years. And, that’s a big deal! The actuary must adjust the total hours down and that is painful. The anti-union only has to keep withdrawing hours to sink even healthy pensions, which would be catastrophic to the funds on the DOL link above.
  • Specialty agreements – There is a growing evidence that management wants to exclude the pensions in upcoming specialty agreements. Since the trades have zero negotiating pressure due to low market share, they are now able to be dictated to! Post COVID jobs will be faced with this. Why? The construction management firms are all reorganizing their business models. They have a 3-fold reason to do this: 1. Get rid of any potential liability; 2. Reduce the cost of construction so they can rebuild profits and save end-users’ money, all off the backs of union trades; and 3. Put pressure on the fragile pension structures that many are in and many more will face. Trades pensions are failing now, and they will hit critical mass if the trends continue. Think of union members PR when they lose a pension speaking to all workers, union or not. Game over!
  • PBGC – The insurer of our Multi-Employer pensions is the PBGC. They are having a hard time getting enough funding to even cover the $0.30 cents on the dollar for pensions that go insolvent! They are basically broke and have no where near the funds needed for current insolvencies, much less those that will become insolvent. With all the relief and stimulus packages the government is going to provide in the upcoming months/years, the odds that the trades even get the PBGC funding is shrinking to highly unlikely. Even if the D’s win control of all parts of national government, the deficit will be a direct threat to the national economy; and, it is unlikely in an austere budget to get this kind of relief. It could happen, but it will be a tough hill to climb. And, remember that is only to cover the $0.30 cents, not the entire insolvent fund. There are now even more draconian measures for U.S. pensions being used today – but we will close here!

Bottom line – ORGANIZING the company and the workers, regardless if they want to come or not, is the ONLY way to keep the trades in the game. Bottom-up & Top-down are far to slow to secure the number of new members and contractors. What is in it for the younger members? When they raise market share and pour huge hours into the funds, (approx. 9% market share increase ASAP) those funds will surpass the liabilities they owe which will in turn produce surplus. That and us old guys & gals cashing it in. Surpluses for prudent affordable and sustained pensions and to make workers a force again politically.

Also, COVID is a double-edged sword. There will be many anti-union companies that can be put out of business with the right concerted activity. Unions need to be smart. The Patriot Act could pronounce unions as unamerican. It has been done before (unions pronounced as unamerican) in the U.S. We must be about BUSINESS – Labor Rising develops Compression Zones staying INSIDE of business law, NOT organizing law! When organizing is all about going after the end users, developers and construction managers clients, credit and their social perception – the trades win!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


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


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

UA Putting It on the Line Blog –!AmKOi71GyLcg2lYy3vsMWqj3wkxO?e=Lv3Ezo 

The UA International President Putting It on The Line –

The current UA IP was elected in August of 2016.

He stands out from a very weak class of new IPs of his generation. An exception would be the IP of the IUEC – he seized the reigns to protect the interest of the Rank & File for all the right reasons.

Why is the UA IP different? Because he is “doing something” to organize! By November, UA organizers and agents hit area after area with blitzes. As many as 70 to 90 blitzers in some cases hit areas. Heavy emphasis in letting the non-union know that the UA is still around. Major focus on recruiting and bottom-up campaigns! Typically, the UA has had a blitz or more going on continuously since then.

While the other IPs continue to talk organizing, they do not commit their organizations for fear of the big contractors. The UA IP has taken to the streets, committing tens of millions of dollars and thousands of organizing hours in concentrated doses. However, understand that even the UA is hedging in their choice of campaigns in fear of the big constructors and those end-users/developers/construction managers that hire them – just like the rest of the Building Trades! Value on Display – what a demonstrated loser for decades in every environment. It casts a big shadow and yet, has always been a loser!

Labor Rising has worked with approximately 75 UA locals in both the U.S. and Canada, along with 6 District Councils. We keep close contact with many of those organizers and help scores of them now.

Labor Rising has been going to school on the progress at the 3-year mark.

Here is what LR has learned firsthand from those UA field organizers directly involved, along with the measurable real time outcomes!

  • At the 3-year mark, the UA has added approximately 6/10 of 1% of new members via recruiting.

However, field organizers have run into huge numbers of current and ex-UA members. The consensus number they put it at is 20%+ which are working anti/non-union at any given time. The numbers must be counted with this in mind. If a member is paying dues, but consistently working non-union, then what is the actual “NET” number. Labor Rising always has unions we work with run Health & Welfare eligibility numbers to have a clearer picture of who working enough hours and therefore a current union member vs. just paying dues.

Also, it should be remembered that construction spending, especially for the UA, is in its 4th record or near record spending levels. Any downturn in the market, signs of inflation or increase in interest rates will very likely put the brakes on construction spending.

  • Retention – the UA is at a 1:1 ratio. Why? Because like most of the trades, members 50 years and older, which is approximately 50% of ALL members, are facing retirement and/or being reverse recruited and are vulnerable to a downturn in construction work. Think of that staggering number!

UA field organizer after field organizer reported many UA members staying with the non-union. Those UA members bring leadership, skills, client knowledge and connections with current members.  

Blitzing track record is clear, it is not sustainable. It trains the non-union in skills to then take back to the non-union when they choose. It puts the union on front street and allows the anti/non-union contractors to further inoculate those non-union workers who are left and those who join the non-union. We know this because the non-union has 88% of TOTAL market share.

  • Blitzes and the follow up of blitzing – when scores of blitzers descend on an area and develop actionable info – who handles this huge volume of info? From the intel LR has, the current UA organizers in each area, must follow up on this. Even a crack local/district council team is going to have huge issues with what is subjective info which may be given to them – even when done by organizers acting in good faith.
  • Consistency – it is what senior leadership should be looking for in this ongoing drive. A rise of 6/10 of 1% in membership gains vs. the sheer numbers of current and ex-UA members working non-union, when work is very good, is not a sign of consistency. Add in members 50 years and older making up more than 50% of all current members, and the question becomes, “Can recruitment dig the UA and other trades out of a hole?”

If the UA senior leader is figuring this out, then this is the first committed campaign to figure it out in decades. The second question then becomes, “Does senior leadership move on if blitzing/recruitment/bottom-up does not produce the numbers needed?”

  • Bottom-up – the UA is hitting hard on bottom-up. Great! However, the track record for bottom-ups is terrible for the trades, and in a Trump era of NLRB, it is getting measurably worse. Bottom-up moves incredibly slow. The current top BU campaigns have faltered to date, this can be expected, time consuming, money pits and frustrating. BU generally needs many months and years to have a chance at being effective in campaigns of 50 workers or more. The issue becomes, how long does the senior leadership keep working toward winning a campaign, while witnessing failures on the losing side. Add to that the few remaining good CBAs merging and/or decertifying?
  • Speaking of consistency, as the UA moves into the 3rd thru 5th year, numbers will speak for themselves. For 3 decades the senior leadership of the respective Building Trades have ignored the losing ways of Value on Display!

The UA is reaching back in using tactics, like bottom-up, that the non-union is very good at defeating. Does the UA have a different way at using recruitment and bottom-up along with top-down?

ALL have been huge losers. As those members 50 years and older get closer to retirement, reverse-recruitment and being more vulnerable to down turns in construction, will the UA react in a timely manner? Right now, the UA is the only organizing game in town. Labor Rising is NOT a hater – we hope they kick ass; but, being a betting man, the odds are high that the current tactics the UA are deploying will fail. I hope Labor Rising is wrong however, LR sincerely hopes that the UA will sense that this version of raising market share is not sustainable and consistent and MOVE!

  • Maybe, just maybe, then it will be time for the UA to lead the charge in going after the money by imposing a Collective Bargaining Agreement on those companies and contractors, and when needed, putting anti-union contractors “out of business”. Grab the wallets of those big companies and be prepared to battle for the hearts of workers. Will Value on Display be abandoned in favor of the trades, perhaps led by the UA working on behalf of workers again. Will the UA teach themselves and the other trades to keep their respective mouths shut and fire for effect and quit playing with the small potato subs and minor players?

And the UA is in the right place for doing just that. The energy sector is poised for huge mergers and many big bankruptcies as the industry restructures itself in the next few years.

What a key time to put the UA stamp on that outcome – should they choose to! The clock is running!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

Consolidation Contraction & Roll-ups – Organizing Part 9 –

As we all know, Value on Display (VOD) as a strategy to improve market share has proven to be a disaster. Every number that can be measured over decades clearly indicates this.

VOD has several major weaknesses. Let’s discuss one of the major ones.

Consolidation, contraction & roll-ups of companies and contractors. For the last couple of decades contractors have been consolidating in total numbers, contracting in total hours needed to do a job and being rolled-up by bigger regional/national companies/contractors for their book of business. According to business experts, if contractors aren’t in the top tier of competitive spots, they will not have enough market to support work, so they look or will be merged, dissolved or sold off in parts. Markets like industrial, maintenance, new construction, etc., are all consolidating, contracting & being rolled-up.

This is a big deal because the trades should be putting their thumbs on the scale to influence which contractors survive to the next round and which lapse into history – from the largest national CMs down to the local subcontracting markets. We have left the companies/contractors to their own devices in this regard – even though every number says this is at our own demise.

With VOD we talk to everyone in the world of construction oblivious to measurable facts that they are using union trades less & less. Setting aside the legal jeopardy of recognition and secondary activities, this is a stupid business plan. As an example, if you reverse engineer who are the top-players in the construction management for fee firms – the numbers clearly are trending in the non- and even anti-union direction. Same for all levels of construction services provided – NET!

Here is a link to the ENR Top 100 list of construction managers for fee.  VOD is spread far too thin in talking to all the players in this group along with all the significant GCs and subs regionally and nationally. If the trades do their homework, we could distill this list of CMs and other sectors down to those companies/contractors that are likely to use or who do NOT use union labor on their jobs. Much of the homework will lead to the bigger companies in the “pinch point” – the CURT represented contractors. Since every number that can be measured clearly demonstrates that CURT is the primary problem, why do we talk to those reps? The notion of “we have to” is crazy! They use the info we provide them in a so-called collaborative way, and over decades AGAINST THE TRADES! Box them out – keep them in the dark. Create UNCERTAINTY in the CURT ranks. Uncertainty is a killer in the world of construction – capitalize on it and perfect it.

If you, as labor, doubt this, here is a test for you. Go to the next round of labor/management/tripartite style meetings with companies that are using more and more non-union, or those entities that have you sign PLAs, so the trades are prohibited from organizing other sites or jobs. Be polite and professional; however, do not answer question after question on the very important matters to management – pertaining to the job. Use weasel words like “I’ll get back to you” – “let me study it” – “we hear your concerns”, etc. Leave and keep them hanging. They will get very agitated. HOWEVER, the trades can only do this when they have several layers/punches of strategy to deliver to those CURT contractors both on and OFF the job. Don’t put the cart before the horse!

UNCERTAINTY – it is an albatross to CURT and all stripes of contractor associations. They need to remove uncertainty in how the job will proceed for their respective clients/customers to the highest degree possible. Doing so is worth a lot of money to them! No bluffing on this, do your homework and develop strategies for a given contractor/market in writing. Quit being chumps under the guise of collaboration! For the markets that have demonstrated that they are trending away from the trades, ask yourself, “Why are we complicit with helping those entities at our own destruction?”

Promoting companies/contractors that use union trades or are trending in that direction, and exclusively them, puts our thumb on the scales in a dramatic way. As contractor’s roll-up and contract into a smaller nucleus core of contractors, the trades should facilitate who we work with and why – and why can’t just be to get hours. That has been a disaster. It is not a long-term sustainable strategy. We know the history and sentiments of the contractors and need to act on it. This is measurable.

Our plan should focus on eliminating and/or severely curtailing the business plan and profits of any company/contractor that is blatantly anti- and even trending to non-union. AND – quit meeting with their representatives. Let them use intermediaries – like our own contractors and others to get information to us.

In bid packages – a CM that is anti-union or trending that way also uses a GC and subs that are likewise non-/anti-union. An entire rats nest and we continue to talk to them. We in the trades are working against our own best interest.

Up and down the spectrum of the contractors’ chain, we as trades need to penalize the anti-union entities both ON and OFF the job. To the extent possible, the trades need to work hard to penalize the senior-most decision makers in the chain. Grab them hard by the wallet – go after their clients, credit and social footprint, or the perception they would like to present to the world! We don’t need to lie or spin it. As bad actors, their own skeletons in their closets will do them in. But you must know how to stay out of the legal jeopardy to bring this into the clients’/customers’/publics’ awareness!

This is exactly what Labor Rising and Labor Combat instructs on. The “Compression Zone(s)” is a sector of the total market broken down into who we will and will not work with and who we will penalize in every way possible ON and OFF the job. We will put forth a strategy to impact their business plans and limit their growth – and in the best-case scenario, put them out of business. Hell, our Founders would do that in a heartbeat when they could. Companies do it to each other daily. Why do our trades’ senior leaders continue to work with anti-union contractors/customers when every number show doing so is a loser! The trades are working with CLCC in Canada and in the U.S. – our own homegrown anti-union entities are on the jobs alongside of us!

Why are we always cleaning up the anti-/non-unions screw ups on the job? Quit it! The nonsense that we can show the “client” of the anti-/non-union contractor how good we are has been ludicrous for decades. Let the non-/anti-union contractors/companies and their clients get hammered in delays, cost over-runs and liquidated damages. Put the “client” in the position to hire a manager that gets it done right the next time. Why do the trades keep getting played more and more and hired only to do the most technical aspects of the job? We are training the non-union in every aspect of how to do it on future jobs! The numbers are crystal clear on this. Snap the f@#* out of it! This is entirely measurable in all environments and economic conditions.

In the upcoming Labor Rising Organizing Blogs, we will instruct on how to develop a union’s, district council’s and international’s Compression Zone(s). Specifically, who to work with (almost entirely our union contractors) and enhance that ability far past concessions so they are “competitive”. This is the race to the bottom which the trades are leading – we are becoming nothing more than a temp agency. Our contractors want raised market share with solid labor rates. Conversely the trades want to know who to cripple and to wreck their existing business plan – to limit their growth – so, anti-union and strong non-union contractors. And, who is on the bubble – which will be most contractors (NET) across North America and mostly made up of non-union contractors.

When the trades can eject the bad boy contractors and/or be a junk yard dog to their business plan and profits, some may come around. However, most will die and that opens significant market share for our union contractors and tradespersons. It is a valid business reason for some of the non-union filling that void of collapsed contractors to sign a CBA. More market share at stable labor rates and training; and, of course, the trades not going after their business model in a negative way.

Someone in the next decade is going to be the net loser. Right now, all bets are that it is the unionized trades sector. And with using VOD as the current strategy, it’s not a bad bet. Or it can be the anti-union and non-union contractors. Pick a side International Presidents. Will we promote a strong middle class again or a class of working poor? This is going to happen on your watch – the millennials want an authentic Labor MOVEMENT; not the BS VOD business union. That’s not worth fighting for – it is a check, and a diminishing one at that! They are not coming our way until we return to the mission of activism and collective action. Founders and history are watching.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat


For Organizing Parts 1 thru 8 – go to and click on the Blog tab.

Building Trade Owned and Operated Construction Management Company – Organizing Part 8 –

A brief history: Nearly 30 years ago the Milwaukee Building Trades Council put into place a Construction Management Company called CCM (Complete Construction Management). It was designed by Brother Brent Emons to combat the construction managers then coming into being.

A construction manager’s entire purpose is to reduce costs to the end-user/clients they are working for, along with making a very substantial profit themselves – adding yet another layer to the total cost of the project.

Take a guess where the money comes from to achieve the 2 purposes above. If you guessed union contractors and union wages, you’d be right! This is big reason why we continue to have all the specialty agreements along with the increased use of PLAs (Project Labor Agreements), with more and more concessions and less and less market share. Can’t get blood from a turnip much longer! 

This concept of CCM was nearly 30 years ahead of its time and is very viable today. In most Building Trades Councils that Labor Rising visits, it is the for-profit construction managers that are squeezing the unions off the jobs acting on behalf of their clients. The “good cop – bad cop” games played between the end-user, developer, construction manager and the general contractor are consistently pitting one union against another, and union vs non-union.

CCM was created by Brent to get union contractors and union workers on the job in Milwaukee. CCM also acted as a PLA for the job long before PLAs were around and provided craft integrity and jurisdictional resolution. It would be the construction manager of choice for any union pension-funded jobs. Many real estate managers take union pension funds and build quite a few projects with non-union. That has been going on for decades. CCM would be a force to bid public and private funded jobs of all types. It was fully implemented and up and running and was hated by the for-profit construction managers.

CCM was in the “black” by its third year. It sent a clear and powerful message to the CMs then coming into business and their clients. 30 years ago, much of the construction was done union in Milwaukee – so a deal was made to suspend CCM because it truly would compete with for-profit CM on just too many jobs.

If the Building Trades leadership resurrected this strategy for areas that could use it, the for-profit construction managers business model and profit margins will be in jeopardy. This matters because the for profit construction managers represent a big part of the cost of the job to the end-user/client! The Building Trades with substantially lower profit margins become competitive with the for-profits CMs.                                                                         

The for-profit CMs are going to hate this; however, in a lot of areas throughout the country this is the only vehicle available to use to get unions on a job NOW! Many other areas need a competitive tool to market unions and their contractors in entire regions and sectors. Value on Display has clearly not been able to dent these markets.

This is not theory or “what if.” The documents exist intact to provide the platform to move quickly and decisively to implement CCM in today’s environment. Building Trades Councils can be construction managers if done properly.

It thwarts nearly all anti-union initiatives at all state and federal levels because of its structure! RTW and most of the current anti-union legislation is thwarted and can go to hell!

As to how to fund CCM, look at our current budgets for political activity, labor/management relations, the use of contractors’ crack (aka market recapture funds, won’t need them any longer), representational and market development activities – all which have NOT led to increased market share “net”. All or part of these budgets can be redeployed “if” we develop Union Construction Management entities. Now that’s a real Value-Added concept – a WIN/WIN scenario for all but the CM. So sad!

As an example, I’ve recently been in Washington State and Pennsylvania, and in both of those states the middle is infested with anti/non-union contractors. Other states have similar situations and this concept can change that. Think RTW states and low market share states, a clear majority. Think sectors of industrial and maintenance we are locked out of, and we now would have the vehicle to get back into those markets.

Underfunded pensions would be the clear winner with a Union Owned Construction Manager.  Because the union owned CCM can set profits margins far below industry standards – for profit CMs could not compete. Any threat by them would be met by a viable competitor – The Building Trades.

We have enough contractors, supervisors, workers, funding and clients to do this. Any non-union contractor that would want to bid on jobs would HAVE TO sign a CBA.

CURT would be very interested in this concept because right now they pay for a dumpster being moved on a job. The paperwork/costs are off the charts to end-users. We could set a negotiated rate far more competitive than the for profit CMs CURT uses! And we could pay real packages. This is not pie in the sky – it can happen.

The “sword” can cut both ways, and what is a dying Building Trades relationship with all industries could flip very dramatically. We have been on CURT’s jobs for decades and know every nook and screw up. If our numbers are well below those of existing CMs – WELL, it’s all about money and a job done well and on time.

The entire legal framework exists, which is hundreds of legal hours necessary for CCM to be viable. Done, and still viable per the lawyers who have reviewed them! They are being made available by Brother Emons thru Labor Rising to again provide a forceful, real world solution to increase market share before we are dead. The Building Trades at the local, state and national levels can be our own legal construction managers thru consortiums of regional and national unions and building trades! Think of the Gulf States with a Building Trades CCM and many other parts of the U.S. The lawyers would have to chime in on if this can be done in Canada.

Why are 14 International Presidents & the President of NABTU still refusing to do this even in heavy non and anti-union areas and industries? What the hell is going on? They keep saying they want to do something BOLD & GAME CHANGING – well here it is!

The CCM document includes:

A complete Business Plan. Statement of Purpose. Business Philosophy. Policy & Goals. Overview of the Business. Operations. Timetable & Funding. Competition. Promotion Strategy. Management of Company. Organizational Chart. Strengths & Weaknesses. Complete Market Survey of Target Area. 5 Year Budget.

READ THESE! Quick fluid read(s) that will renew our pride as builders! Thank you Brother Emons for the vision.

The Articles of Incorporation are completely done and living.

It is a potent weapon for those Building Trades Councils aggressive enough to pursue it, with minimal downside risk.

Articles of Incorporation –!4091&authkey=!AOLovtNorbitcQ0&ithint=file%2cpdf    

Business Plan of CCM –!4095&authkey=!AC5adMs3LjYq448&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Bylaws of CCM –!4096&authkey=!AH1pjd4PrdA50II&ithint=file%2cpdf       

Shareholders Meeting of CCM –!4093&authkey=!AHd1LEVzccM0_Bw&ithint=file%2cpdf  

Meeting Notes of CCM #1 –!4097&authkey=!AK4LcK9Whc4I2ec&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #2 –!4094&authkey=!APLnoyRadbraz7g&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #3 –!4092&authkey=!AGDOJj0T-UAEmfk&ithint=file%2cpdf

Share with Building Trades leaders in your area & state. You may have to cut & paste links.

For Organizing Parts 1 thru 7, go to and click on the blog tab.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat