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Mass Texting a Value Not Used –

We are going to lay out the comprehensive strategies of Labor Rising/Labor Combat training. It will be done in parts and is for organizers and activists to evaluate.

We have said since 2012 that what the Trades need to do in order to win back market share and restore Middle Class Values is to become a MOVEMENT and not a business union.

Let’s start with a component of the overall strategy that can be done, in a hurry, by senior leadership who continue to live in the caveman era of communications – mass texting platform to talk/instruct/educate R&F membership to take action. Mass texting is but 1 of 3 parts of an overall communications platform long overdue in the 21st century. The 3 parts are mass texting, e-mail & smart phone app. Various unions and internationals use some of these communication parts; however, none are used effectively. Without a mass texting platform by the respective internationals to directly communicate with the R&F, we are going nowhere in leveraging membership numbers.

The issues of the day are threats to the future viability of our Apprenticeships using the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs the anti-union wants, the NLRB cannibalizing workers’ rights, putting shared FACTS into members’ hands in a timely fashion and being nimble to stay ahead of the curve in education and activism. The senior leaders of the Building Trades are HOPING that the new proposed rule doesn’t find its way into construction. Hope isn’t a strategy to anyone but the trades senior leaders! These are just SOME of the avalanche of issues pressing the trades today – and, they exist by design from anti-union forces with non-union forces taking the ride too.

So, the trades’ primary way of pushing back on these attacks is to use passive forms of communications in a world of instant communication. Let’s look at the very real attacks on the Apprenticeship programs. While our training is the flagship of training, our ability to advance and defend it is still in the cave person era of communication!

The trades as a group have senior leadership that relies on members sending emails or signing petitions that are presented to them thru passive communications methods.

They use passive forms of social media, such as Facebook and others. They are passive because someone posts it and it is HOPED that members take an action. It is the old mentality of build it (social media platform like FB) and they will come. How many have actually signed the petition is measurable and those numbers are next to zilch compared to the total membership number plus everyone they know.

Enter an International level use of a mass texting platform. Quite literally the entire membership can receive a mass text delivered to their phone requesting action. This is NOT a group text which we all hate. The mass texting platforms have been long established and are readily available to use and they are cheap given what they can deliver. Translation is the trades DO NOT need a customized BS mass texting platform built by someone’s crony at high dollars and long timetables. They are available as in NOW!

Since the unions have most members’ phones numbers, they can be dumped into a main data base – landlines can be removed from the phone numbers through automation. The unions and R&F depend on cell numbers to get work and provide information. So, the odds that we either have or can continue to get nearly 90% – 100% of members’ numbers is excellent. Mass texting is a one-way communications platform typically. However, internationals can get feedback, if they want, by including a poll and/or a questionnaire. There is zero politics in a properly designed mass texting platform.

This is a proactive, cost effective and timely means to address very important issues, such as getting massive amounts of signatures signed for a petition.

Since most texting services limit number of characters, or even worse split the message into several frustrating parts, the trades, just like any good user, can add a link to a mobile website or landing page; so needed information can be provided and acted on!

Passive FB communication reaches approximately 5% – 10% tops, per the analytics of interaction/clicks. On the other hand, mass texts have the real potential of reaching nearly 100% if the member doesn’t opt out. According to the numbers we have seen, and we’ll provide those numbers from the few locals that use mass texting, most members not in the mass text system opt IN and very seldom opt out of the platform. Should the action requested by senior leader help ensure their ability to earn a living, the likelihood of action, such as signing a petition or responding to a call to action, is high.

Mass texting can be custom tailored to the audience, so the mass texts do not inundate/spam the members’ phones. It can be tailored by group, category of member, zip, area code, county, state and more; and for the most part any subset. For example, in the case of signing the Apprenticeship petition, potentially 2 million members, all retirees and ALL of their contacts can be informed and asked to consider signing the petition in one direct proactive way!

For example, the mobile website contained in a mass text can provide the direct portal to submit comments on in why a member supports a real apprenticeship program. And this link can be sent to millions of members, retirees and friends vs. putting a post on FB and it soon disappears on the timeline. Get it!

Now that is power in numbers – and yet for over a decade, the internationals will NOT do this! Cavemen! Texts would be approximately .01 – .04 CENTS per text, a number that depends on the number of members and components of the message. If we in the trades are paying more than that, we are not too smart. And we are not being smart because as of this blog the trades continue to use mail and/or PASSIVE social media platforms at the same or higher costs with next to zero in performance.

Today’s mass texting platforms are incredibly powerful ways that groups with numbers like the trades can leverage their collective power. Businesses and politicians will certainly take note of this ability – as will the anti-union without any ability to counteract!

Retirees and member on the road can still be a powerful force because they have their phone in their pocket.

Mass texting has huge benefits for an organizing department and also for a marketing department, and yet we fail to use it in even one international. We will teach you in upcoming blogs.

The fact that NO internationals use mass texting and/or any membership-wide proactive, structured communication platform to leverage our numbers is suspect to a big degree. We will discuss that in the future blogs.

There are literally scores of other good uses of a mass texting platform, like scrapping emails and keeping membership information up to date. No more calling someone in the office to do this. This is and has been automated for decades.

Next blog will deal with the structure of raising market share and will be very detailed.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Good Ole Boys Building Trades Presidents are Jettisoning the Defined Benefit Pensions –

Value on Display, run by the “good ole boys” club of senior leadership, will be responsible for the demise of the Taft-Hartley multi-employer pension plans in the trades. They have already run market share and organizing into the ground, so why stop there with this abysmal leadership!

The “hot potato” of insolvent pensions will be played off. And in saying “hot potato” we mean real workers losing or getting substantially reduced benefits in retirement! The trades presidents must get rid of the defined benefit pension because they are so vastly underfunded and because management has told them that they will not deal with the withdrawal liability issues any longer!

So, enter the Federal Butch Lewis Act: Senator Sherwood Brown, D-OH introduced the Act; and now the rebranded version introduced by Rep. Richard Neal, D-MA, Chair of the House Ways and Means.

The purpose of the BLA is to underwrite with loans/bailouts the current Building Trades’ insolvent pensions and the many more following. Currently, most Multi-employer/Taft Hartley pensions plans, and there are approximately 1,100 plans, are funded at 60% or less as a composite!

First off, the “good ole boys” sunk nearly all of the current and future insolvent plans! Not the government, not the markets! The Labor side of senior leadership of those funds are substantially at fault. 

The current and former good ole boy’s senior leadership have zero discipline and integrity. Every one of the current senior leaders – all political animals – were around when union after union agreed to put newly negotiated money “ON THE CHECK” for nearly 3 decades – from the late 70’s to approximately early 2000’s. That money put on the check was a vote by and a responsibility of grown workers. The average member would have suffered the consequences of poor to little pension contributions with lower benefits at retirement time. However, the funds would be solvent to pay benefits. What changed the dynamics of solvent funds to insolvent funds was the senior leaders good ole boys’ self-greed & their politics! 

The good ole boys now in a position of power on those funds jacked up accruals of pension payments to levels impossible to sustain even in great times. They knew that there was zero money to support these benefits over time and they did it anyway because of their greed and desire to score short-lived political points.

I was around during this time. I know how the members would applaud on the union floor and tell them, the good ole boys, what great investors and managers they were. Members couldn’t have known they were digging themselves a hole at the worst possible time in their lives – retirement! But the “good ole boys” not only knew about this hole, they didn’t care. Turns out the good ole boys have a separate and distinct pension, which just happens to be fully funded – so any local pension benefits are gravy. And they do want the gravy, every cent they can get, even if the substantial number of Rank & File members lose some or all of their pension benefits.

Per our International Presidents and most of their talking heads, the GOVERNMENT was/is responsible for the pension insolvencies. It MADE us Trustees do imprudent acts and FORCED us to spend ourselves into insolvency. All BS! First off, all Taft Hartley Pensions have the same set of pension rules – logic would dictate that all funds would be in the same boat – but, they are not!

To listen to our senior leaders and political hacks like Brown, et al – the funds were forced to make benefit improvements once they hit 120% or more of funding is just one example!  Most funds did take the excess funding, mostly from interest earned when markets were good, and made benefit improvements. However, most made improvements far past what was prudent, when they didn’t have the money to pay for it then and especially down the road. They worked the professionals on those funds to give them scenarios with very narrow parameters that could JUSTIFY HUGE benefits increases relative to money available, knowing that mid- and long-term numbers would NEVER work out!

They took out a credit card and hoped that somewhere, someday it would rain cash in numbers needed to keep pensions afloat.

Many trustees, like myself, payed down debt in our respective funds with the excess funding from market interest, and that in time opened up more real cash for real and sustainable benefits down the road in retirement. THE MEMBERS DID NOT LIKE THOSE DECISIONS AT THE TIME, they saw other participants getting huge increases and many fights broke out on the floor to hold the line. For example, they didn’t like creating new tiers of prospective benefits – they do now. Trustees have had other prudent actions that also can be taken in part or in whole to keep out of a debt situation; the “good ole boys” CHOSE not too!  

So, trustees of insolvent plans gave benefits that: 1) they had no cash to sustain long-term, and 2) put them in further debt. An illustrative example would be maxing out your credit card out. You’ll enjoy the benefits for a short while. Then the bill comes due, including the payment for interest. Bottom line is you have LESS overall purchasing power. So, the BIG BAD GOVERNMENT laid out options that otherwise prudent trustees can take. The ones that are insolvent had good ole boys that used greed and politics to play the R&F. Now those incredibly bad decisions are coming due. What is ironic is the members probably named some union hall or school after the very trustees that screwed them!

BTW – this all can be reverse engineered Brothers and Sisters. You need some base guidance, but these numbers are easy to understand in the light of day. And yet many of the R&F will turn to the very good ole boys that sunk pensions and even market share for answers – that needs to stop if we are going to have any chance or strategy for change.

The markets did us in! Hey, we got hit hard in 2000 -9.1; 2001 -11.9; 2002 -22.1; and then the rebound with 2003 +28.7; 2004 +10.9; 2005 +4.9; 2006 +15.8.

Hit again in 2008 with -37 and rebound with 2009 +26.5; 2010 +15.1; 2011 + 2.1; 2012 +16.0; 2013 +32.4 and the market continues since then in an overall positive direct. Bottom line is the markets have stayed within historical numbers needed to support benefits if they are paid for. The market has little ability to erase the massive debt compiled by insolvent plans! Check for yourselves – Google S&P historical returns by year to get all returns not listed above. Also understand our pensions do not recognize all loses/gains in any given year. They are smoothed out in a rolling 5-year average that the professionals use and have used for a long time.

HOURS – The forgotten element in pension viability. As expressed in the opening statement, “VALUE ON DISPLAY” will be responsible for the demise of pensions. Hours and organizing (or lack thereof) can be interchangeable here. Pension calculations/benefits have a substantial component related to total hours contributed to a fund, be it local or international. We could have organized our way out of the pension disaster, and we still can! Understand that to the Founders and Labor Rising, organizing is taking the company and workers and imposing a Collective Bargaining Agreement on them. Anything less than that HAS NOT worked – such as recruitment, salting, old school organizing, VOD, training etc… Topping the list of failed “strategies” is VOD! Since inception of VOD, the trades collectively are getting pummeled in work hours lost/market share/density. This is expediting the pension insolvencies!

 Wow – what a coincidence that the exact same good ole boys club who have decimated pensions are exactly the same men who have abandoned true organizing and replaced it with the massive failure that is Value on Display. Coincidence? Not a chance!

History will be crystal clear that from the beginning of good ole boy Georgine, to the present good ole boys, that the Building Trades went from Labor MOVEMENT to lap dogs of management! A temp agency.

A legacy of failure across the board! Clueless to self-examination and measure numbers and implement change! Call me skeptical, but I’m certain they know exactly what they want. And a vibrant, free and independent democratic labor MOVEMENT is foreign to them. They belong to management.

The trades are primarily losing hours because of increases of the non-union market share and to technology advancements in construction delivery (e.g., needing far less workers and time to do a given job).

The IP’s know that the trades have lost market share even in the super-heated record years of construction spending. They also know that on par the markets have been solid. Should either one or both cool down for any length of time, pensions will fail exponentially. Here is the current list of plans in trouble from the DOL:

The R&F is also out of money to shore up unfunded liability. They have diverted money from CBA, wages and annuities for years and are out of options. The senior leaders, good ole boys know this, so…

Back to the BLA legislation, which is a LOAN/BAILOUT! If a pension fund can’t afford its bills that are coming due for the next several decades, how in the hell is it going to afford repayment of loans to make funds whole? Exactly the point – the pension plans cannot! Part of the BLA legislation allows for loan FORGIVENESS which is why it is a bailout!

The average Joe and Jane BT member could care less who foots the bill so they can have the money they feel is due them. Thus, begins the political hot potato of the Butch Lewis Act, if it can even pass which is in itself problematic. The IP’s can spin that they did all they could to SAVE the participants from the government and markets, their hands are clean! And the irony here is now asking the government for the fix.

Meanwhile the hole will get deeper and different political administrations will fund or NOT the BLA even if passed! The loans/bailouts are open ended. The GOA does the scoring of costs for government spending; but in this case, the timeline for funds needing loans/bailouts is measured in decades. The consensus of the Pension Analytics Group is approximately $160 billion covering approximately 230 plans expected to fail, and that number can easily and unfortunately rise along with billions more of loans/bailouts. The unscored number of $34 billion for a one-time loan/bailout is smoke and mirrors BS of the highest order. One fund – the Teamsters Central States Plan – needs this much and probably more all by itself.

Understand this – the Zones have been reclassified. Green is good; however, in the new classifications, many so-called Green Zone funds actually may be Green now but projected to fail in 5 years. You should know that huge difference! The new classifications are explained in the link below:

For years, we at Labor Rising have said that our brand of true organizing can solve multiple issues: Market share, pensions, political muscle rebuild, unions working as an agent of the middle class.

And yet every attempt to build a real organizing capacity is thwarted by our Internationals – they will NOT take on the clients, credit and social footprint of those most responsible for the non/anti-union. The owner, developer, construction manager & GC. We play small ball dancing with subs – how incredibly stupid!

So, the next couple of Blogs will again educate on what organizing looks like in 2019!

                                     “if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

May Day – International Workers’ Day – May 1st –

This picture does a great job portraying the historical progress of the Labor Movement, nearly all achievements on the list are more than 50 years ago. Frederick Douglass had it right then and today, if only senior leadership would heed his words. For a perspective of the state of labor today, consider the following:

  • Labor, and more specifically the Trades, haven’t advanced the interest of workers for many decades – simply showing up for work is not enough – training isn’t and has never been the cornerstone, much less a building block, of why the middle class was established
  • The Trades founders dealt with “NEED TO HAVE” values of raising families, dignity in retirement, solid health care and conditions that don’t kill you protected by a CBA – NOT “nice to have” values like training! NEVER did the Founders cite being COMPETETIVE with wave after wave of non-union or immigrants as a reason to LOSE! If you think immigration is bad today, try a US population of approximately 75 million in 1900 compared to 92 million in 1910. Ten years and an increase of 21%. Now that’s not a wave – that’s a tsunami and our founders organized thru that and the greed in their day that makes today rather tame! Want more? Blacklisted, beaten, maybe killed, not only zero political help but laws stacked against them, Pinkertons and bought juries! We are a joke and our International Presidents, have zero business even citing the founders thinking we are even remotely alike! One set of leaders risked all – the current politicians haven’t missed a check and risk nothing! So…
  • We have COASTED for decades on the shoulders of giants – our founders
  • Bad a** shirts and stickers can’t do a damn thing to advance workers issues
  • The Trades specifically prohibited any form of communist/fascist from membership in the Trades then and now. Read your Constitution – it is right up front. So, when you read a Facebook post on either word linked to unions, those comments are a special kind of stupid. The first thing a fascist/communist regime does is rule unions illegal and replace them with leaders they want, and who will do their bidding – slave labor
  • When I was the moderator for the rededication of the Haymarket Monument several years ago, Anarchists showed up to disrupt the program. They soon learned that unions would not tolerate their actions
  • For over a decade, my apprentices took care of the Haymarket Monument, and those of approximately 30 other labor leaders in the “outlaw” cemetery called Waldheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park, IL

The Building Trades leadership has indeed “sold out” the membership. Value on Display and those who advance it are NOT leaders – only pawns to management and business. Continuous and ongoing concessions and capitulations mark VOD as the loser it is and those that continue to advance it!

But, the spirit of the Trades will be re-born. With 90% of the workers in the Trades non-union, there is a better than even chance that rebirth will happen OUTSIDE of the existing BT framework. The closest mass event within the framework of the Trades was the R&F grassroots effort in the NYC Building Trades, until it was usurped by “leadership” of NYCBT. What city or state R&F have the passion to serve something greater than themselves?

History has a lot to teach us about the roots of our past. When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day, and when we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend, and when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beaten down by the police and company thugs, then we can understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted — yet our senior leaders do! Workers fought for those rights and dignities. The sacrifices of so many workers then are mere punch lines for senior leadership of today! For too long now, the Trades have not been a MOVEMENT of all workers’ rights. Capital “V” for the value of being the underpinnings of the middle class? No, we are nothing more than a small “v” for the value of training we provide as a temp organization. We have our fingerprints on why the class of the working poor are emerging! Our current senior leaders don’t fight – they roll over!

Senior leaders have put the Building Trades in a position to refight all the hard-fought battles! They are at the tail end of the benefits won by the founders MOVEMENT of workers. Not the workers mind you, the senior leaders only. EVERY Trades worker has taken one or more cuts to wages, benefits, conditions, classifications, ratios, pensions cuts, diminished work and more with the advent of Value on Display. It is on the R&F backs only. Not a single cut to International pay and pensions.

Management isn’t “throttling” the R&F voices nearly as much as our own senior leaders of our own Internationals. We are so far away from being a free and independent Trades union that our own founders would side with R&F hands down – if they were present to do so today!

Words stronger than any I could write are engraved on the Haymarket Monument:



Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

Building Trades Members, their Skills & Contractors are Being Transferred by Design to the Non-Union

The anti/non- union would need a plan to do this – right?  Below we offer excerpts from our years of on-going research that validate the statement above. Value on Display has opened the flood-gates to the developed strategy listed next to each bullet point below by the non/anti-union. Why? Because the trades WILL NOT impose a CBA on the non-union contractors and put out of business the anti-union contractors per a structured strategy – case closed! That is Organizing! Only Labor Rising/Labor Combat has a developed strategy that incorporates strategies to do this. It is called building and using a Compression Zone. It reshapes the business market of contractors and by extension increases union BT market share. Our Founders understood that controlling the workers is NOT enough to win market share and control the market. They knew you HAD TOO/IMPOSE the “VALUE” of the Middle Class on non-union contractors to sign a CBA – any strategy missing this aspect of development has not and will not work! Value on Display has proven that! It has been a disaster! The “value” – little v of training is chump change compared to the “Value” capital V of middle-class values! One is a temp agency and one is a MOVEMENT!

Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) and their surrogates would need to:

  • Have a primary starting point along with a structure and strategic plan. Labor Law Study Group started in 1965. In the fall of 2000, the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) came into being, which speaks for the top end-users of construction, and is part of the Business Roundtable. This direct and unbroken lineage has as its mission the transfer of the union contractors and skilled membership and training of the Building Trades to the non-union. A great white paper for you to consider is:!5539&authkey=!AKaDcmNj84oZMSI&ithint=file%2cpdf

  • Reorganize and centralize the construction industry. Enter the Construction Manager working at all times for the end-user in the late 70’s.  The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) started in 1982 and is the dominant association with 29 chapters & 14,000 members thru-out all of construction.
  • “And the enforcement mechanism used by the Roundtable was the threat of its enormous purchasing power which it held continually, though usually silently, over the heads of the contractors. They intended to gradually establish non-union contractors to undercut the economic position of unionized employers and through the strategic use of their purchase orders, the large consumers would insure their control over the contractors, both union and non-union.” JC Turner, General President of the Operators
  • Quietly make new friends on the Hill – what we now call the Right to Work Committees and Groups, ABC, ALEC, Heritage Foundation, Tea Party, etc. providing both direct and indirect funding.
  • Form Government Relations & Litigation Committees to vigorously fight every pro-worker form of rights at the bargaining table.  We see the fight to repeal Davis-Bacon & court decisions limiting our right to picket, giving union contractors the right to set up non-union companies and the right to repudiate their collective bargaining agreements and much more. Right to Work is a huge time-consuming fight for unions that fear it. RTW was something the Founders lived with, they didn’t fear it, they organized workers anyway!
  • Empower and use to CURT’s purposes and ends groups like the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and Construction Industry Roundtable (CIRT) (this is not CURT, but a quasi-relation). Google this entity, go to the “About” tab and look at the pull-down menu under “Members”. Most of our unions’ big partners’ construction firms are there! WHY?  National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have actively opposed the use of PLAs, particularly for government projects. 21 states ban PLA’s with another 20 working hard to get there, and 9 states encourage some form of use. Not good numbers for the unions.
  • Transfer union contractors via double breasting and strong enticements with purchase orders, bid shopping and other strategies. While technically stuff like bid shopping et al is illegal, it is rampant and uncontrolled.
  • Openly recruit solid journeypersons with skills and leadership to the non-union via hard core recruitment firms, such as ihirebuildingtrades, Tradesmen International, Trillium and several others which all are growing. These are recruitment side of these firms, not the temporary side, many can be both – which are transferring skilled trade’s members who are unemployed, underemployed, not in the political click or working on the road for long periods of time. Many seasoned union skilled tradespersons are faced with one or more of the above scenarios due to contracting work opportunities and hours!                
  • To transfer those skills, and to know those union members who the non-union recruits by name, they need information gathered by the construction manager or a surrogate involved in the jobs. Add to this the fact that union Building Trades have all their eggs in very few baskets, especially those gated and controlled jobs which require big time info on all aspects of the tradespersons on the job, especially their work history, credentials and temperament. How do you think the recruitment entities know who to precisely go after? Those recruited are then a pathway to other union tradespersons and the clients of the union contractor!
  • Leverage modularization and technology advancements in construction delivery. Significant areas of construction are both contracting in hours needed to do a job and the number of contractors needed (minus 1099’s) – despite $1.5 trillion of construction spending in back to back to back years. The construction industry is also consolidating due to successful union and non-union companies being “rolled-up” into regional and national firms. The overwhelming majority of these parent roll-up firms are non-union.

Let/drive the Building Trades unions to handle most of the recruitment, training and HR on a host of hiring issues for the transfer of the “blue chip” hands – from minority, women in the trades, local hiring initiatives, veteran’s preference, drug testing, professional standards, etc. Then, due to the contraction and consolidation of union job opportunities, along with rising non-union market share, the non-union contractors recruit directly and thru recruitment agencies workers who have been trained and vetted for placement. All the HR activities have been conducted and paid for by the union members one way or another. We are continuously told what is needed, so we do all the heavy lifting. This is a great deal for the end-users to then recruit and transfer those targeted workers.

And…for decades women and people of color where kept out of the Trades by policy. Now the Trades desperate for bodies for recruitment, embrace women and people of color to save their checks. Historically women have been the backbone of Organizing for unions. The unions which are clearly moving ahead TODAY are all run by women Presidents! SEIU, Nurses, Teachers and Flight Attendants. So, you’re telling me that the quintessential “good ole boys” club has changed? The Trades, void of any women right up to now – suddenly have changed? And BTW the women get the lower PLA and specialty wages that the “good ole boys” have capitulated on for decades! Women will be joining when the Trades have and are giving every dime of concessions to management! Lower pay – same work!

  • CURT understands the legal and business consequence of collaboration and relationship building, with the endless meetings to discuss “what they need & will pay for”, dictated to us because of the inferior (for unions) one-way relationship and declining market share.  Labor-Management co-operation, CURT’s Tripartite Initiative (CTI) and other alliances for the purpose of collaboration are ruses and in the hard numbers, of NET market share development over the last 2 decades. If Knowledge is Power – then this is the gateway into the inner workings of union decisions. It allows anti/non-union to dilute/derail actions of the unions in the form of professional relationships with legal constraints, mostly in the form of recognition and enforceable secondary limitations that have legal consequences and constraints. “If” it was the 2-way win/win relationship they describe, our “net” market share would be stabilizing and/or increasing. EVERY single sector that CURT represents has ingratiated themselves at our meetings, giving us awards, and plying their silver tongues, while every sector continues to erode with a “net” overall decline of unions on their jobs. Even in British Columbia & the Gulf Coast, what appeared to be sustainable union BT jobs are being eroded already.
  • Win constant give backs. Starting in the early 70’s with agreements such as the National Maintenance Agreements et al, to the present with new classifications and major modifications, have not arrested the decline of market share. Mergers of locals, underfunded pensions, trades infighting, aging of the work force in unions are all substantive erosions of the Building Trades’ future viability internally especially if all we have is Value on Display and letting the customer ultimately decide if they want to use the Building Trades.
  • Removing General Contractors from many bigger jobs in several sectors, using bundled delivery systems like Construction Manager at Risk (CMR) or others. The General has had the CBA with many trades, and as they go bye–bye, so do the CBA’s.
  • Maintain a stable of anti-union law and consultant firms. We may not want to acknowledge them, but the dozen or so that operate very successfully are also on point when needed, either pro-actively or reactively. When anyone needs to lawyer up, they have a blueprint to work from. These groups, CURT and the Construction Managers have been using our strategy of Value on Display and collaboration to beat us since 2004.
  • Produce books, consultants and lawyers who train on how to be even more professional, create a Brand, and collaborate.  This puts the future of the middle class and our families solely in the hands of management. They ultimately decide “if” they want to use the union Building Trades or not! For example, Breslin’s 127-page, 14 font, double spaced fluff piece on business strategies was published in January of 2003. You may want to reconsider whose business strategies this approach has served?  Recently a Tweet on “failure is a great teacher” – so how long and how often does the entire trades have to fail before it moves on past the disaster of Value on Display? Contrast that to our 474 pages of research, some of which is before you. Also, if you saw the timeline of dates from 1965 till the present, no right-thinking person in the Building Trades leadership can ignore its structure and probable outcome should we continue the status quo of VOD or marginal changes to a failed strategy.

There is ZERO hope that the newer General Presidents of the IBEW, UA, SMART, IUPAT, Insulators and Ironworkers will reconsider how their organization raise market share. We are a HOUSE of CARDS and CURT et al knows it! And work is good now and we are losing ground. What happens when the market faulters, interest rates raise, infrastructure is public/private ventures, etc…?

Are we working hard – when it comes to Organizing; not even a little? However, zoom out to 35,000 feet and for the last 20 years we have been giving ground everywhere NET!

For those that feel that we just must educate more, or we are the best kept secret, or it’s just going to take a little longer, or how the non-union is impressed when they learn more – snap the hell out of it. Every number says we are being played – case closed!! And it is more than management playing us!

Legally and lawfully imposing the “VALUE” of a middle-class MOVEMENT on the customer, end-user, developer, construction manager and GC’s clients, credit and social footprint will reverse market share decline! That’s what we do here at Labor Rising!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

To: NYC Building Trades Field Rank & File –

Dear Rank & File: You have been usurped by the leadership of the NYCBTC! Definition of usurped: “to take the place of someone, (or in this case something, your MOVEMENT) in a position of power, to supplant”; in other words, seized, taken over, expropriated, ousted, annexed the true intention of the field Rank & File of the NYC Building Trades members.

A “grass roots” organic MOVEMENT of R&F members in the streets gave the NYCBTC leadership some much needed leverage in the construction market. And, the NYCBTC grabbed that advantage and usurped the MOVEMENT and GOALS of the street members by placing themselves in charge over time. Now they present the goals of the MOVEMENT as being the NYCBTC goals; at least to the field Rank & File!

Once the NYCBTC attached themselves to the field members, things changed very subtly, far outside the purview of the Rank & File. As a veteran organizer it was easy to see the evidence – items like permits, times for rallies & marches, barricades and routes, having union officers speak, disclaimers on communication materials such as fliers, etc…

The NYCBTC needed the legal framework that complied with the NLRB Labor Law, so they didn’t get sued directly and the member union affiliates had limited liability.

Who was watching the interaction of the organic R&F MOVEMENT of members and the senior leadership of the NYCBTC was management?

So, a great organic MOVEMENT of R&F Building Trades members was usurped by parties that have far different goals than the members in the streets. Management’s goals were to get the heat off them. Have a successful launch and opening of the properties. Get labor to concede on wages & terms, such as both union & non-union on projects. Have a continuing framework (contract) in which management by-and-large sets the terms for future work commitments. And…

The Trades’ senior leadership goals were much simpler. To use the pressure of a pure MOVEMENT of workers to get a seat at the table – period! It is a diminished seat, but heck at this point if you’re the piss poor senior leaders of the NYCBTC, a diminished seat is better than nothing. They want to spin this as a Win – Win! Of course, they do. The NYCBTC has been losing market share, wages, conditions for well over a decade now! So, the organic R&F MOVEMENT that sprung up was a gift to both the senior NYCBTC leadership and even to management. The trades are clueless following the totally failed Value on Display BS game plan for approximately the same amount of time.

Throughout the U.S. and Canada, the trades have done nothing but lost market share in EVERY category “NET” for decades, as in plural! That is one heck of a statement – which is also unfortunately 100% true!

To my Brothers & Sisters who founded the true and organic New York City Rank & File members, consider this – the NYCBTC did you a 2-part favor.

#1 – You as R&F understand being usurped! Welcome to the plight of nearly all R&F frustrations: constantly seeing the conceding and losing of the Internationals and/or District Councils/Building Trades because thay have no plan past the failed Value on Display. So, these entities keep losing. They do what NYCBTC just did and concede and capitulate to get any hours they can! The senior leaders stay relevant only by a hair. They also keep their titles and checks flowing, which for them is NOT so irrelevant!

To you Brother & Sister R&F who think you helped secure this deal and believe that if not for your actions all may have been lost. Absolutely correct, and the other consequence was securing even more hard and real concessions off the backs of workers while senior leadership of the NYCBTC, management and the non-union jobs remain completely intact. Also, the history of management forever has been that the paper the deal (PLA) is struck on historically isn’t worth being in the porta john unless it is a CBA!

#2 – The organic R&F MOVEMENT that you all have developed is still completely alive should you chose to stay in the streets and guess what – it is unfettered by anything the union affiliates and/or management can do. Our Founding Fathers knew workers in the street trump all if it remains non-violent. They practiced the quote of Oliver Goldsmith who said, “you can preach a better sermon with your life, than with your lips”. You do not need permits, schedules, notification of a march, barricades etc., to talk workers on workers en masse. DO NOT ever tell either the union and/or management of the R&F plans do the degree possible. Never in a formal way such as letter, text, call, email. You do have to follow some laws/rules that will be applied at the time – and based on circumstances then. What you’ll come to understand is you control the outcome far more than you now know with the peaceful use of labor unrest and even some civil disobedience! Your actions will also become the tip of the sword for R&F activism more than with any group in the U.S. for decades! No drama in this statement even a bit! No organic R&F MOVEMENT in the U.S., and I think Canada, can put the number of members in the streets that you can. Our Founders would have your back and not those of the senior leadership of the NYCBTC, or even the International Presidents.

You had some officer(s) who did remain true to what was being done in the streets. You know who they are because they were purged (fired) by the affiliate/international unions even though they are elected.

If you have read this far then know that if you go back in the streets you are not only bettering workers lives – both union and non-union – but you are playing for all the marbles. What can derail the organic MOVEMENT is again letting anyone OTHER than yourselves deal with issues going forward.

“IF” the original organizers, the glue are still activist and have not been lured by the “good ole boys” club – all the better.

What will be lost is the name or brand that was organically created – cannot be used any longer. Call it a casualty of learning and adapting. This would be about legal stuff that could stop you before you even resurrect version 2 of a true R&F MOVEMENT! Don’t use the former name!!

Labor Rising has long attached to a quote Vernon Johns said prior to the advent of MLK:

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Many individual and even affiliated unions have tried to restore that mantra to their respective organizations; however, only the NYC Rank & File have come this far with your numbers being sustained, along with valuable lessons learned!

This has ramifications far past NYC. Could this be the start of the Building Trades becoming a MOVEMENT again!?!

“NYC members have seen a good fight – will they continue it”

In Solidarity,

Brother Danny L Caliendo


Chronic Losing Record of the Building Trades Hits Record Low in 2018 –

Union membership in the US hit a record low in 2018:                                                       

“Just 6.4 percent of private-sector workers belonged to a union last year (a slightly higher figure, 7.2 percent, were represented by unions but were not officially members.) Real estate firms, utilities and construction industry players saw drops in the rate of unionization.”

Perhaps one might look at the environment for the chronic losing numbers which are now 4 decades old. What one would find is NOT anything that would lead to the Trades chronic losing ways:

  • Strong and record amounts of construction dollars being spent for nearly a decade
  • Worker shortages in many industries, with construction high on that list
  • A demand for a well-trained work force to hire
  • The cost of union labor, which is lower than in the early 70’s – adjusted
  • Polls showing that workers generally support unions and are growing active

This is a Rock Star organizing environment and has been for nearly a decade. Great leaders don’t ever want to hear the whining and blaming of anyone but themselves. They take responsibility for their organizations’ overall goal and even its personality! Great leaders wouldn’t blame the Republicans, politics or NLRB for controlling their game plan. Try to imagine our Founders even thinking that way!

The Trades are a sub .500 team and yet talk like they are Super-Bowl bound year after year. More of the trades’ hands that are heavily skilled journeypersons are working for the non-unions, which have out-strategized the Trades’ International Presidents year after year.

A great leader admits that the incomplete tools they have used (Value on Display), along with a complete lack of a well-rounded strategy, have NOT worked for decades! For any top-line leader who measures real and hard numbers this is a no brainer. But not in the Trades x 14 Internationals! Breslin and the other pseudo coaches (Director of Organizers/market “experts”) from the respective trades have relied on plays and NOT a play book. They rely on a single phase of market development to win market share.

It is the tool of selling value and skills per a business plan (Value on Display). IT IS NOT ORGANIZING! It is a very limited part of an overall play book; without any greater strategy, it is like just using running plays between the tackles on offense. Recruitment is also a narrowly-crafted tool. It is all about finding bodies & giving away books for the temp agency formerly known as the free and independent trade MOVEMENT! It is also failing as a tool with retention rates of union workers at or below a 1:1 ratio – NET, throughout the trades. We are losing more skilled workers than we are training. Translation is we are training the non-union!

The BT will not train Organizers with skills needed to win. Why? Because if Organizers are properly trained to dig into their respective markets in depth, they will see the inner working of relationships between unions and management and the level of capitulation for hours to management. Labor Rising knows this first hand because the approximately 91 Organizers that have done the research have either quit, been fired or moved along to other positions by the union! All have shared their research with us. The only complete blueprint for Organizing is done by the Labor Rising/Labor Combat group for the last decade.

It takes a local/DC approximately 200 – 400 hours of no-nonsense work to distill the market down to actionable strategies – so the trades can win! It is called building a Compression Zone and there can be a few to several Compression Zones in a union’s market. The Trades CAN’T win and raise market share unless and until they do the following AT A MINIMUM:

  • Organizing the market along the lines of clients, credit and social perception.
  • Removing Recognition and Secondary Activity as legal constraints with owners, end-users, developers, construction managers & general contractors. 95% plus of those agents/organizers/market reps reading this bullet point have next to zero idea of what this means – tragic!
  • Putting hard pressure on the “money,” such as owners, developers, construction managers and others who direct and control the hiring of non/anti-union subs. It is usually a complete waste of time organizing the sub, there are a few exceptions to this. The trades need to organize a MARKET, not a company – absolutely can be done in this day as it was done in our Founders’ days. The tools and tactics are different today – BUT not the strategy of controlling the workers and by IMPOSING a CBA on the non/anti-union contractors, and those that hire them. Especially those that hire them.
  • Teaching real and hard-core use of SIC/NAICS codes and how to use them in an entire market.
  • Mandating the training of the technology of Excel, Cloud, Sharing, mass meeting and many other aspects of technology germane to organizing. Hundreds of “organizers” show up for Labor Rising classes with laptops that are old and not even kind of current, much less know how to use even basic applications. How in the hell do we expect to win? It is like showing up at a modern football game in a leather helmet!
  • Teaching our organizers how to control/severely impede the non-union hiring. #1 item unions can teach and will NOT! With the application process on nearly all non/anti-unions websites – why isn’t this priority number 1?
  • Cyber organizing – taking “old school” of bottom up into the 21st century. It can be adopted for worker outreach and yes, even recruitment. But many current organizers/market reps are hard pressed to do this because they lack understanding of technology.
  • Putting aside the limited playbook of Value on Display and the old worn and failed strategies now used! Can’t win without understanding opposition research, understanding real and comprehensive credit reports and how to read them, understanding basic business math, such as Workers Comp, cash flow, financing and more.
  • Maximizing use of structured social media, of which next to zero is in play in 2019 — unbelievable! We need a structured playbook of plays for promoting our union contractors and supported with social signals from our membership; apps to take on politics and link the entire membership to an International-wide communications platform for raw and real power. The lack of a complete game plan of contemporary use of social media in 2019 and beyond is astounding.  

Why the differences in what BLS reports as membership numbers and what is reported by our Internationals? It is all in how and WHO is counted. The BLS has historically been the trusted source, it still is. What has changed is the categories the Internationals have included in total membership numbers. Categories such as honorary, retired, early retired, agency fee payers, superannuated member, 40-year member, life member, disabled member, exempt, affiliate member, dropped member and contractor member to name actual categories on the various Internationals’ LM filing.

These categories infer that these are active members with tools in the field – they are not. So, for example, the Carpenters list 26,000 honorary members and the Ironworkers list 22,000 honorary members to infer that when they cite numbers, they and other BT organizations look bigger than they are with active field members at work!

Here is the link to the DOL search form:  

Put the File # of your International in the File box at the top of the form & hit search.

UA File # 000-111, IW File # 000-052, IBEW File # 000-116, SMART File # 000-073, OE File #  000-159, Laborers File # 000-131, Roofers File # 000-135, OPCMIA File # 000-132, BAC File # 000-034 , IUPAT File # 000-035, Boilermakers File # 000-074, Elevator File # 000-197, Insulators File # 000-090, Carpenters File # 000-085, UTU merged with Sheetmetal 2012 #000-314 approximately 60/65,000 approximately members in 2012.

What is also sad is that at any given point as many as 20% of active members are working non-union as they carry an active Book in their boot. It would be like a Super-Bowl quarter back playing for another team for a few games during the season. Labor Rising has listened carefully to the approximately 700 organizers/agents whom we have trained, which have always and repeatedly said that when they are out organizing, recruiting, blitzing they encounter member after member working non-union. What they also do is check Health & Welfare eligibility. Many find that otherwise dues paying members are out of hours – where do you think they are working?

So, the Building Trades keep losing and capitulating to management. An example of this unfortunately happened during the week of February 19th, 2019. The Ironworkers International took over a New York City local. From the reports – it was mostly because the local would not cross a picket line for arguably one of the worst developers in the city!

The Value on Display failed strategy and trend continues with BT Internationals shoving bad contracts with reduced pay and benefits down the throats of Locals/District Councils.    

The numbers over time show that a trade picks up hours in the short term and loses more market share in the intermediate and long term. Numbers can be measured, just not by our Internationals!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

10 Reasons Why the Trades IPs are the Punks of Management –

  1. Zero accountability to membership. It is even worse than the present state of politics in the U.S. and Canada. Politicians at the highest levels of government in North America can and do lose their jobs. When have you seen an International President of the trades lose an election? When have you seen them even have competition for the job? Members can go an entire career and never see this occur. We don’t have the best officers forged from the cauldron of ideas and risk taking. We have the old stale and pale leaders chosen behind closed doors of the “good ole boys” club, who have never missed a check! And we wonder why we are losing!
  2. Sold out to management. Can’t “sugar coat” this any longer! Since the early 70’s, and especially in the last 2 decades with the strategy of Value on Display, has this been clear. Not my opinion – fact! Every way that VOD can be measured it has failed “NET”! The IPs have capitulated to management to secure hours across the board. The IPs have sold out wages, conditions, benefits, rules, classifications, pensions and working alongside of non and anti-union workers.
  3. The continuing collapse of market share and density is taking a toll on Building Trades’ pensions. The term that a local is at full employment underscores market share collapse. Full employment today is nowhere near what full employment of 15 years ago. Those lost hours, due to lost market share and technology, are the primary drivers of the under-funding of insolvent pensions. Overly rich pension benefits given decades ago and not supported by hard dollars is also a big part of under-funding. A rising stock market, and members subsidizing underfunded pensions for a decade or more, are the only dam left in place. Even if the market retreats to just average historical returns for a time – the pension dam will still have far too many holes to keep it from breaking. Should the market go on a prolonged downturn – goodbye pensions! How about membership money used, for the last decade to now, to subsidize/prop up existing benefit levels? Money off the check – maxed out. The membership is reluctant to take any more money from their annuity. Money available from new negotiations – slim to none. Look at the current trend of management dictating that if they sign a PLA and/or other specialty agreements with the trades – they are OUT of contributing to an underfunded pension.
  4. New classification of BT workers. Like ALL other tools deployed by the old stale and pale bunch thru today has it failed. Being competitive is the language of losing in the trades. Whole generations of organizers, agents and members think that being competitive with the non/anti-union will again restore the trades’ market share. New classifications, market recapture/target funds, extended apprenticeships, PLAs, specialty agreements of every type, just to name but a few competitive give away “TOOLS” that have eroded BT market share. Every one of these “NET” over time HAVE NOT WORKED!
  5. NOT ORGANIZING! This word has been so misused for so long that it no longer has any meaning. Organizing at its heart is imposing worker’s collective rights on a company and those companies around it. Nothing else! It is precisely how the middle class was formed in North America by our Founders. It is as relevant today as it was at any time in the history of North America! OUR IPs will not IMPOSE the rights of workers on non/anti-union companies. The IPs will not put an anti-union contractor and those entities which hire them “out of business”! With VOD being the strategy of appeasement, the IPs have long recoiled from the very concept of putting the most aggressive anti-union groups down. Totally possible, but the internationals will not do it. So, when the term “sold out” is used, this is at the heart of why – allowing the anti/non-union to progress unchallenged over the rights of workers. That is selling out! Organizing is NOT recruitment, salting, stripping, subsidizing wages, partnering with community, waiting for legislative help, blitzing, selling values and training, concession of every type, hoping for a Hail Mary, etc., They are at best tools “IF” used within a greater organizing strategy which imposes workers’ rights on companies. WITHOUT IMPOSING OUR WILL TO SECURE A CBA – THE ABOVE TOOLS ARE LOSERS! Our Founders did 2 things, control the workers AND, more importantly, control the means of production. They went after the company and imposed themselves on the company. They didn’t ask permission and try to sell themselves!
  6. Being victims! OMG Becky! The drama here is Oscar worthy. The internationals blame everything but themselves for the near demise of the trades and then continue with losing strategies. FYI members: Our Founders organized and imposed themselves on countless companies. They were killed, they were beat, they were blacklisted, they worked like slaves, the politics and laws were against them, public support in most cases wasn’t to be found, next to zero money and no rationalization of the circumstances. And despite all of this, and more, our Founders controlled the means of production – and imposed workers’ rights on every major company then in existence. And the “men” for the last 50 years up until today have played victim. They blame everyone for their abdication of the oath they took. Kind of sounds like Trump.
  7. Market development and the complete lack of it in training. Labor Rising has trained more than 700 BT organizers/agents and 95% of them did not know what SIC/NAICS codes were. That’s a big deal and that is entirely on the internationals’ senior Lead Organizers. The entire business world, along with government entities, rely on SIC/NAICS codes to secure information & build info and markets. For decades, our organizers have been set up to fail without being provided formal training. No formal training in how to use and read various credit reports. No combing out and separating the prime players in a market and the noise of a market. Zero training in how to build the non/anti-union market flow business charts. Who is the senior most decision maker/company in the entire chain of construction and funding? And, securing germane opposition research on the narrow and competitive markets into which the trades want to grow and expand.
  8. Next to zero use of proactive and structured technology. It is a sad and long list of disengagement found nowhere in modern society except the senior leadership of the trades! No use of a membership-wide mass texting programs. Mass texting with mobile websites can deliver every type of info to the members, from general info to specific actions tailored to the circumstances and members’/markets’ needs. There are plenty of business applications that can be readily adapted for the trades use, fast and cheap! For example, with mass texting programs can be used to obtain members’ emails. Can deliver major documents like newsletters, Pension/Health & Welfare info, etc. Can provide links to union Apps and vendor Apps. Can be used for cyber organizing and coordinating and facilitating efforts of organizers to work with substantial numbers of non-union workers. Can do worker outreach and conduct mass meetings with meeting platforms such as Go 2 Meetings. So, if an international, DC or union has a mass texting program and the non-union workers’ cell numbers, communication and education becomes fluid, effective and private. But, without full use of pro-active and structured available technology, the trades have zero ability to advance items such as opposition websites of bad actor anti-union companies. Cannot create the website with truthful info and send a mass text to hundreds/ thousands of members with info on what to do. Cannot put the anti-unions’ worst secrets in plain sight and advance them to the top of the search results with membership clicks. Cannot become a “sales engine” for our existing contractors and those that want to become signatory (now that’s selling a benefit far past training). Cannot capitalize on marketing social signals that are the gold in today’s business world, and the trades are sitting on a powder keg of social signals, unused! (Pull out your phone. Google how to have a job/career as a plumber, electrician, HVAC, welding, painting, etc. Add your location such as Boston, Chicago, Seattle. Look at the search results on page 1. The search term of Apprenticeship is seldom used by young people. How many show the trades training? Few to none. So, the trades want young people to consider the trades over college but do next to nothing to “OWN” the 1st page of Google to get them to call us over the non-union!) Cannot post YouTube videos of 2-minute snippets of the various subsets of trades training with maximum effectiveness. Cannot send the apprenticeship link to the membership via a link on a mass text where we can effectively control the message of apprenticeships, although it is totally possible to own substantial social real estate in the shortest time possible and inexpensively. Career fairs should have an I-Pad for prospective apprentices interested in a trade to enter their cell numbers and other info, so an auto-responder will keep in touch with them. Nothing on this list is being used membership wide at the international level effectively! The internationals still practice the build it (technology) and they (the membership) will come with passive and unstructured social signals. Losers!
  9. Complete lack of practical legal organizing training. So, what is the practical real-world pros/cons of Recognition per the law. 90%, and perhaps more of the organizers, reps and agents Labor Rising has trained, do not know this. Not their fault, this is ON the training provided by the senior leadership of the internationals. Without knowing the pros/cons of what, when, how and degrees of what Recognition means, organizers/reps continue to put themselves and their respective unions in legal boxes that favor the non/anti-union. Translation is we lose continuously, and from multiple levels of organizers set up to fail. What is the definition of Secondary activity? Again, the organizers don’t understand the intersection of Secondary and Recognition and what it means to the outcome of a successful campaign. Huge numbers clearly don’t understand that keeping your strategy and game plan confidential pays big dividends. Our organizers talk far too much and to far too many players, and then wonder why the non/anti-union are prepared for us and win! The confusion between 1st Amendment Free Speech rights vs. when the NLRB has jurisdiction is staggering. Hiring is another area where our trades’ organizers are without training. Strong laws exist even today in our current anti-union world regarding hiring, and Organizers are literally clueless. A few examples: at what point do you as an applicant become covered under a law with some teeth? Go to a typical anti/non-union website and see if they have an open application tab/link under jobs/careers on their website. You, as a union organizer are looking at “GOLD” if there is a link available and don’t know it because the internationals will not train you! Control/affect the hiring of the non/anti-union and our winning percentages will go through the roof. No BS. Fact. Civil disobedience and coloring within the lines loses 95% of the time. Can you imagine MLK, Mother Jones and other successful winning activists/organizers alerting those they were protesting that they were coming? At what time!?! And securing permits and staying within planned barricades!?! The entire point of civil disobedience is to change and challenge status quo. It is to correct bad laws. It is to grab those entities by the wallets until they hear us; and do it entirely on our schedule and terms.  At one time women couldn’t vote and slavery was legal. VALUE ON DISPLAY, and being predictability civil, has been a totally failed STRATEGY! Think of this equation. The entire group of organizers/market reps from all trades and from every area suck! All the BS of “got to use the tools in the tool box” is pure BS. So, NO ONE throughout 2 countries and in every trade and area has figured out how to use the tools to win. Talk about the biggest fraud perpetrated on the membership – this is at the top. It is the strategy that has failed not the troops. So, if you are only supposed to recruit and/or sell VOD, even as a passionate advocate of labor, you are set up to lose advancing the middle class. You, my Brothers & Sisters, are securing enough bodies to secure enough hours for the temp agency formally known as the BT! The closest analogy I can think of is that you are trying to win a football game with only the use of running plays between the tackles, and you are starting on your own 5-yard line every time. And every other player, from every other trade, from every state/province has the same losing plays! The defense can beat you 90% of the time, or more, all things being equal. As an Organizer you DO NOT have a full play book because the INTERNATIONALS will not train you in building one, much less allow you practice it! By our numbers at Labor Rising, approximately 75% of those trained by us have either quit organizing, been fired or promoted up and out of the way. They are told we have a Lead Organizer and we do it his way. Play ball or else.  And his way x 14 trades, along with those that preceded him in the past 50 years, have been losers – “NET”! Totally measurable.
  10. It is mid October 2018 and Trump will sign RTW anti-union legislation soon along with more anti-worker carnage. The Supreme Court is stacked against workers’ rights even if the D’s win back some seats. The truth of the situation is stark! Will the International Presidents of the trades continue to be the punks of business? Will they continue being a temp agency appeasing the world of construction at every turn while talking smack at our conventions and meetings? The DNA that our Founders had in building a trades MOVEMENT is nowhere to be found by this “good ole boy” club! The fate and legacy of the trades now rests on 14 old men with weak backbones!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle –

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 U.S. has historically gravitated towards the center, with most citizens tilting right or left but not far from center! A few examples using labor legislation – In 1916 Congress passed the Keating–Owen Child Labor Act (left), the first national child labor bill. The American Plan of the 20’s (hard right), which deemed unions to be “un-American,” resulted in anti-union efforts of employers that decreased union membership and efficacy until the 1930s. The Norris Laguardia Act (left) passed in 1932. It banned yellow-dog contracts, barred the federal courts from issuing injunctions against nonviolent labor disputes, and created a positive right of noninterference by employers against workers joining trade unions.

More examples – The Wagner Act of 1935 (left), which greatly increased the authority of the federal government in industrial relations establishing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to execute this program and strengthened the organizing power of labor unions. The TaftHartley Act (right), which became law despite President Harry Truman’s (1945–1953) veto. Also known as the Labor-Management Relations Act, it passed Congress in1947 and established guidelines to correct unions’ unfair labor practices and to restrict the activities and power of labor unions.

For my Brothers and Sisters who want to see fully what our FOUNDERS did to get us to this point, here is an educational link that is a timeline of labor issues and events:

Notice how the activities of unions drop after the Federal Air Traffic Controllers began a nationwide strike. Most of the 13,000 striking controllers defied the back-to-work order and were dismissed by President Reagan on 5 August 1981. The union(s) then, in the 80’s, and continuing to NOW, have had NO sustained strategy unlike our FOUNDERS who knew how sustain pressure and win!

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. The legislative arm of the Tea Party is the Freedom Caucus – funded by the Koch Brothers. Many of the most extreme Tea Party members were borne out of Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America in 1994. The Tea Partiers concluded that the Contract with America failed in part because the political partisanship wasn’t extreme enough.

Along with extreme partisanship that the Tea Party used in saying NO to both D’s and establishment R’s, they masterfully infused fear-based politics. So “primarying” establishment R’s and vetoing any legislation that is not 100% consistent with their narrow agenda is their MO!

Ironically, if the D’s had developed a similar/identical strategy, the U.S. would still be in the exact same position – HUGELY POLARIZED!


American politics, and even politics throughout the world, are in a state of devolution. We used to vote for a favored politician and his/her positions. That gave way to voting for the lesser of two evils. To what now has moved huge percentages of voters to flat out voting against a politician because of the alternative. This is pure fear-based politics on both sides. Forget who started what and what now exists, which is a full range of extreme rhetoric to flat out lying. Americans are expected to vote for positions that are extremes off the center, controlled by parties that refuse to build consensus or even compromise. Too bad NEITHER is not a choice on the ballot.

Our political environment is one of neighbor against neighbor, using hyperbole to get a super narrow agenda passed. Poll after poll measure positions that are increasingly opposite ends of the extreme. Nearly 50% disengagement of the electorate tells the story of the citizen voter. It’s fine with the extremes that ½ of our citizens sit it out, or in the alternative, they fan the flames of fear and discontentment – and they win! So, we end up with a government in the extreme either to the right or left, which is a true minority government.

Tolerance of each other IS NOT acceptance. But in this hyper-state we are told it is. Most issues that effect the average citizen have a consensus, compromise, or pragmatic solution available if the parties would work to achieve it. For the last decade or two, 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 340 million people with 40 religions and 140’ish nationalities.

And 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 balance to organized capital. Capitalism works just fine, SO LONG AS THERE IS ORGANIZED LABOR. Subtract the latter and it is “Katy bar the door” in the U.S. and Canada.

The trades being absent in the fight for so long, and in fact, working with management, has helped the extremes take root. Organizing is taking management on – directly, and in some cases in a no-holds-barred fashion to force management to the table to come to a consensus or compromise. The trades and labor are that important. Workers’ rights, pay inequity, safety being transferred to the worker, building 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, and they see a balance of labor and management, they don’t fall for the extremes and talk in much more measured tones. We all benefit. The extremes, be they 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 become susceptible to fear.

Our International Presidents have settled for being a temp agency. Finding bodies and doing what they are told by management. The strategy of “HOPE” is an unproven strategy so hoping for infrastructure to change the trades lot has not worked out. The trades are in fact losing market share even in record years of construction. Similarly hoping that the millennial’s who have polled strongly in a pro-union direction are taking a flyer on joining the trades in any kind of numbers. This group are strong in their beliefs. As they mature as great activist will (our Founders) they will not want to be a part of “union” with old, stale and pale men leading them – not happening! A MOVEMENT is energy in an organic form. Knowing right and wrong, and the haves and have nots. Being a part of something grand and providing the balance of ORGANIZED workers to take on organized capital.

Instead of our internationals trolling FB for political discontentment, they should be aware of the huge groups of workers forming in social media forums around union principals. They have in fact wobbled jobs, and some big ones at that. And they are not only not calling us, they are on record of saying we are part of the problem with the concession and appeasement.

Is there some solidarity out there – small pockets, yes! However, it is very possible that a new trades movement will develop before long and jump right over us.

Put this Genie back in the bottle IP’s – because history is hard against you and will reflect it!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Building Trades Have Been Losing for a Long Time –

50 Years of Shrinking Union Membership, In One Map

The Building Trades have collapsed disproportionately during this period as compared to public sector unions – steady and consistent loss of market share irrespective of the economy and political administrations “NET” over decades!

Robert Georgine, who was the Building Trades President from 1974 – 2000, was particularly effective in capitulation and conceding to management at the national building trades level. Many of the specialty agreements now used had their roots when Georgine was the S/T (1971) and President (1974) of the National Building Trades. The Oil Embargo of 1973 collapsed construction for several years. The path of least resistance to management was Georgine’s way – give the work away under specialty agreements! This was also the era of the expansion of the “good ole boys” club. Georgine never funded organizing and we became the “country club,” turning away all those on permit then in (1973), on a doby, white ticket or temporary worker status. Most credible numbers put that at 50% of all Building Trades workers back then. It was like putting the non/anti-union on steroids. The anti-union component was composed of those with many years of work on temporary workers status who then got screwed out of ANY type of pension. ERISA was passed in part to establish pension vesting rules, and not just the failure of the Studebaker Corp. Georgine’s poor leadership not only didn’t get him fired – he was awarded additional responsibilities as the CEO of ULLICO in 1990, a union owned insurance/investment company. You may want to Google Global Crossing to see the scandal Georgine et al was a part of. Almost single handedly he wreaked havoc with two labor entities during his tenure. He created a culture of appeasing management.

The trades were at a crossroad in 2001 and had a choice of which direction to take after the disaster of the Georgine, et al, Era. The Carpenters pulled the pin and disaffiliated with the trades to pursue Labor/ Management Carpenters’ style – which BTW hasn’t worked either. Others, like Brother Ed Hill, came to power when he was appointed General President of the IBEW. His interests were the same as memberships, in that he saw numbers and markets being lost from the Georgine Era. In what I believe was then a decision made in “good faith”, the IBEW, et al, had a decision to make on a strategy to raise numbers. That decision would become the earliest form of what we now call Value on Display (Business Unionism to many). To his credit, Brother Hill was the only person at the national level to have a plan. And, as the IBEW went, so did most other Building Trades in making this fateful decision. It isn’t that Brother Hill didn’t care – actually it is quite the opposite – he did!

Collaboration with management and selling a value back in 2001 was a legit strategic decision – to sell the value of training, skills and availability of workers at prices/conditions in line with competition that the non/anti-union exerted over the construction market through 2001.

Brother Hill and most of the rest of the IP’s bet the farm on Value on Display by the early 2000’s. Working with management in a collaborative spirit in “HOPES” of raising market share. This was also the beginning of the Breslin Era of selling and being “professionals.” However, his and the IPs’ definition of that concept, is very different from that of the Founders.

Around 2003, Standards of Excellence were adopted, as was a position of softening the actions and titles of Organizers to that of Market Development Reps. This meant a kinder/softer strategy of NOT rocking any management boats at almost any level. Market Recapture/Target funds to buy (and subsidize) work come into being. We call it contractors crack. Hard core concerted activities (including labor unrest) was replaced by persuasive speaking classes. Some trades developed proprietary, subjective measuring and tracking tools. Salting gave way to stripping, which is now recruitment. Funding labor/management groups became mandatory and was prime language in most CBAs. The CBA gave way to PLAs; and new worker classifications along with rolling over to most of management’s demands. And now pensions are threatened because of increasing management demands to NOT pay into them because of the funding levels.

The issue wasn’t: “Is this strategy going to work or not?”  It was tracking and critiquing/measuring the effectiveness of Value on Display as a strategy over time and in varying economic cycles. Can’t fault leaders charged with strategy development in 2001; however, EVERY number across the board “NET” clearly indicates that Value on Display is NOT only a disaster – management uses it AGAINST the trades! The strategy of VOD has reduced the trades to a temp agency and works in almost all circumstances to benefit management while the unions get crumbs!

Some comparisons: The Dow on Dec. 31, 2001 – 10021, now 25,790, an approximately 150% increase, including all crashes from then till now! Population of U.S. in 2001 – 285 million, now 330 million, which is why the trades’ density number is a joke! Value of Construction Put in Place in 2001 – 863 billion (Source: U.S. Census). The Value of Construction Put in Place, total in 2017 was 1.2 trillion and has been at 1.2 – 1.6 trillion for 3 consecutive years (Source: U.S. Census).

Union Building Trades in 2002 – approximately 18%; in 2017 it is approximately 14% (U.S. Census). Many other sources have it as low as 10%. ALL Private Sector unions in the U.S. sit at 10.6% today (Source: U.S. Census).

Membership numbers for 2002 & 2017:

Carpenters in 2002 – 531,839; 2017 – 424,826

IBEW in 2002 – 722,095; 2017 – 671-076 (ask the IBEW how many are inside field construction)

Laborers in 2002 – 840,180; 2017 – 576,75 LIUNA leaves the BT in 2006 to join CtW (Change to Win) (Source for all numbers above: The Internationals’ own LM-2)

AND BTW: we are giving books away at cut rate prices and losing. The Trades do not understand that those that want to be union – want far more than skills and training. THEY WANT TO BELONG TO A MOVEMENT! As Senator McCain, RIP Brother, said, something bigger than themselves. We are in the right place in history, but with the wrong strategy and leaders!

The above 3 unions each has its own version of Labor/Management cooperation – all have gotten their butts kicked along with the rest of the trades “NET” with any version of Value on Display!

When held up to money in the economy, growth of population, growth of construction – DENSITY/MARKET SHARE of Value on Display has been an absolute DISASTER. Even factoring in tech advances in construction delivery, VOD has reduced us to near extinction!

With the rise of potent anti-union Hell-bent on putting the union trades OUT OF BUSINESS, along with a sound strategy of transferring our union contractors and workers to the non-union, we are systematically being shut down.

ORGANIZING is taking the non-union CONTRACTOR and imposing a CBA on them regardless if they want one or not. It is giving anti-union their wish, which is they would rather go out of business than work with a union.

Our Founders did far more than control the work force – why they were successful is they went after the customer, owner, end-user, developer, contractor and imposed themselves on clients, credit and markets (now public perception of the company). They also had a detailed strategic plan of what, when and where. AND, they always kept their MOUTHS SHUT, except at the CBA table. AT ALL TIMES, no one (from management) ever knew when they would show up and what they would do!

Here is a link to what the Building Trades need to teach to get back to building a “middle class” of workers instead of being complicit with wage stagnation and the rise of “working poor”!!AmKOi71GyLcgkRDGsNrLWiSeduGk This is the Labor Rising Foundations training outline that the trades at the national level will not allow Rank & File to develop and execute! Losing appears to be in their DNA – not ours!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

Infrastructure and P3s – The Final Nail in This Version of The Trades –

P3s are Private Public Partnerships – and, the trades are in the wrong place with the wrong strategy if P3s are the primary way we (re)build infrastructure going forward. Just because there may be endless amounts of work in no way ensures that union trades will be doing the work with a P3.

Right now, the senior leaders of the trades are working deals to use union pension money to fund investment vehicles for P3s. The trades’ senior leaders are working thru some complex deal making and evaluating how to deal with the financial risk regarding the viability of the projects and profit.

Value on Display has been a massive failed strategy during its entire use as the go-to strategy of the trades – and the P3s are going to eat this strategy up (use it to their exclusive advantage). Yes, use it to their advantage. P3’s is in no way the way both the US & Canada has built infrastructure in both D’s & R administrations until now. What is even more disappointing is these types of P3 projects would be hugely susceptible to organizing. Any disruptions to the for-profit construction of P3’s would give labor leverage on both non-union contractors and workers. However, we will sell and talk our way into even lower market share relative to the work and let the GREED of management proceed with the trades complacent! Lots of rhetoric but complacent actions deferring at all times to management!

The trades have limited pension dollars to risk on funding/investing in for-profit infrastructure. Those few pensions healthy enough to invest in them will be limited in the dollar/percentage amount available for allocation – typically 10%.

The P3 investment world is going to recruit our Pension Trustees/Agents/Senior Leaders to be partners in infrastructure. At best, we will be a junior partner in most of the deals (with little to no leverage).  An example is The West Deptford Energy Station, which is a $1.5 billion redevelopment construction project. In 2016, ULLICO Infrastructure Fund (UIF) completed a $78 million equity investment in West Deptford Energy Station. ULLICO is a Union owned insurance/investment company. ULLICO will have approximately 5% of the project to buy jobs and take on the risk of the deal making money OVER TIME! It is a highly illiquid investment and the returns hover around most Taft-Hartley assumptions of approximately 7%. We will go to all the collaborative meetings with management and teach the end-users et al how to do the job, especially the highly technical parts. The trades will bend over backwards to facilitate initial and advanced training. And, on top of putting our dollars in the project and teaching and training, we will still take cuts in our pay packages to get “HOURS”! And the old and tired mantra of “lets get on the job and show them what unions can do” will still take place. IT HAS NEVER WORKED!

Many, if not all, P3s will increasingly opt out of paying into a Defined Benefit Pension Fund as we move into the end of this decade and into the next because of the underfunding issues of so many pensions – yep, the very Infrastructure Funds that are soliciting our Pension Funds to fund their P3s. An irony, but this will be true. The trades will get a sliver of the total infrastructure work and be kept on life support by the corporations to milk every ounce of total benefit from the organization formally known as the free and independent Building Trades. Every number and trend indicate that the union contractors and blue-chip union hands are being recruited to the non-union, by design! BTW, good luck getting your pension funds back once invested. These are long-term investments, be it closed or open-end funds, separate account or pooled, equity or debt funds. Any takers on this? The comment section is open for all, including senior BT leadership and/or ULLICO folks.

This collaboration/capitulation to secure hours is Value on Display on steroids! So, the trades will PAY for the privilege of being put out of existence, at least this version. Labor Rising has said for 10 years that our research and trends demonstrate that the anti/non-union are transferring the union contractors and workers to the non-union. A very smart strategy since time and 90% of the market is on the non/anti-union side. Given a complete lack of leadership, the trades are set up to fall and pay for it all at the same time.

During the last 30+ years the Building Trades history is crystal clear. We concede huge amounts of wages, benefits and conditions, while helping the customer learn how to efficiently do the project and typically are then shown the door in upcoming phases. We do all the heavy lifting and concessions and still lose the job and market. “NET” across all trades – the loss of density of market has been a complete catastrophe with Value on Display which is void in GENUINE ORGANIZING! The trades have lost market share in EVERY sector across the board, even factoring in advances in construction delivery due to technology.

It is no coincidence that anti-union legislation/NLRB/Supreme Court/Congress/RTW are lining up to deliver both public and trades unions a decisive, and if things don’t change, a fatal blow to any type of workers’ rights. P3s will be exempt from Prevailing Wage/Davis Bacon laws. In short order, PLAs will be gone, too, for all intents and purposes.

The trades have relegated themselves into being a temp agency to the construction world, in that they do the “recruitment” and training of workers. Recruitment IS NOT organizing. And the retention rate of nearly 1:1 throughout the trades means we are training the non-union and losing our best hands. The dogs and our legendary comp case workers stay and hide behind union rules. Blitzes are a worn out and failed strategy and yet we continue to use them now for “recruitment” – got to find bodies. It is called organizing – but it is NOT! Weak organizers use it in lieu of decisive tactics and strategies.

P3s are for profit. Think back to the advent of the contemporary Construction Manager in the 80’s, this is when BT market share started to decline rapidly. Why? That’s where the money is! Think of the role the construction manager plays on the job – to save the end-users’ money. However, think of this, the CM is a “for profit” company. So, riddle me this Bat Man – how do you save money for the end-user and pocket sizable profits for the CM (typically north of 20%, depending on type of CM and their role and relationship)? The answer, through gouging union CONTRACTS/CBAs, and off the union workers’ backs. Add in the Value on Display catastrophe for giving away workers’ wages, benefits and conditions by selling (out) the trades; and the trades have been on a losing streak in market share and pay ever since. The Race to the Bottom started in unions, and because the trades have been conceding at every turn, this has affected the entire workforce. The charts showing loss of union wages = loss of all workers wages for the past decades.

Well, P3s are today’s version of the CMs from the 80’s until present day. P3s turn a “PROFIT” and at the same time save money on total project cost! The workers, especially UNION workers contracts/CBA’s, will once again be the way the two objectives described above can be accomplished.

Every time the trades participate in their endless labor/management collaborative meetings and “let’s all love each other PARTNERSHIPS”, they’ve lost ground across the board – “NET”!

Now that the Rs are calling the shots, P3s will be the biggest pot of legal cash ever for management! The rebuilding of North America! However, this time around workers will not participate in a fair deal because our senior leaders have long abandoned any semblance of a trades union for workers. It is all about hours and being a temp agency! The trades are responsible for the worker class now forming and have long abandoned being the champion of the “MIDDLE CLASS”! The sheer numbers of the concessions over decades by senior leadership is verifiable and felt in the families budget.

On one hand, Trump (our President who couldn’t pass a lie detector test to save his soul!) is playing the trades like a fiddle – making promises that otherwise discerning grown men are believing! And on the other hand, Trump is allowing every non-union Executive Order and legislation through with his signature. With the addition of a very conservative judge, the Supremes will rubber stamp most, if not all, workers’ rights issues negatively.

All of this because the Trades WILL NOT FIGHT & ORGANIZE! The Trades will not train their Organizers  how to formally build a market; format sectors; learn SIC codes; separate non-union and anti-union companies, end-users, and construction managers; develop specific strategies and tactics for each; understand recognition and secondary law, hiring and application law; use mass communication with the R&F; use membership as a sales engine; do formidable opposition research; learn how to use opposition websites; learn to shut up; learn to quit selling and represent the interests of workers; impose a CBA on all companies, regardless if they want one or not! No scorched earth tactics. Methodical structured strategies researched for the trade. These are what our Founders did, and what is included in Labor Rising’s & Labor Combat’s instructions. But, the Internationals shut us down at every turn, even though they have a totally failed strategy and no strategy to win past losing! Labor Rising is said to be BT BASHERS – the overwhelming bad numbers of the Trades performance is the basher – LR just reports it! Our Founders would kick their butts big time!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat