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Hey International Vice-Presidents – Time to Fall Out of Line –

Note: this blog may be disjointed to many and covers a huge amount of info in 1,500 words. Our blogs are for hard core organizers and activists’ members.

The future of the trades, by and large, rests with you. The General Executive Councils (GEC) of the respective trades have the power to change the trajectory of the 14 Internationals. Of course, those breaking with the IP’s will be banished off to Siberia (think Trump and how he handles disloyalty); however, you may have gotten yourself into this position by being a “YES” person over the decades in order to get where you are!

The GEC is “charged” with formulating organizing plans and policies – “charged”, mind you. So that being the case, why are we losing? A big reason for losing is that many (all?) Executive VPs spend a career working on how to get into the leadership hierarchy and then cementing where they fall in that hierarchy. That leaves next to zero time to organize in the field. When has anyone seen an EVP or general officer on a picket? Loyalty is a solid character trait; however, loyalty to a fault, and more specifically to a person, makes you blind to the shortcomings of that person. Welcome to the cult of trades leadership for over 5 decades. The economic harm done as a result to mindset based on loyalty-to-a-fault to “a” specific General President is measurable and sustained!

Labor Rising got into a lot of trouble using Winston Churchill as an example in our last blog. But we view the response as “good trouble” because Churchill was a POS right up until the time, he stood up to world fascism.

While our 14 trade IPs are not that bad, using the failed strategy of Value on Display (VOD) for decades has undermined workers throughout all of North America and beyond.

My point in this blog is that events can take us all in many different directions. Circumstances change. In the trades, we can continue to choose to fail with VOD. Conversely, we can lay down a modern foundation for a reinterpretation of the trades labor MOVEMENT!

VOD has replaced a once vibrant middle-class tradesperson with a working-class tradesperson. It has politically polarized members through division into those with a philosophy of skills-based individual tradespersons vs. a collective greater good MOVEMENT of workers.

The trades are no longer each other’s keeper – we are “individuals on a job selling skills to a customer.”

With the trades’ senior leadership dedicated to that end alone, any talk (and that is what it is) of unionism and activism in the streets is, and has been for decades, pure BS!

The trades have always been the “red-headed stepchild” of labor. We are typically more centralist than our more progressive and liberal wings.

The trades are known to involve extensive travel to all parts of North America to secure work. Mark Twain’s famous adage of “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” has been turned upside down because of Value on Display.

“IF” the trades were a MOVEMENT of worker activism, then travel would foster what Brother Twain said! However, because VOD sells skills to customers competing for dwindling crumbs and jobs from management with an individual tradesperson mindset of “I” have got to get mine – many issues have taken hold, e.g., intertrades jurisdictional issues, extensive non-union issues, immigration issues, women in the trades & people of color in the trade’s issues!

VOD has taken everyone of those issues above into the political & individual realm. So, workers’ justification is, “I am SKILLED so look at me. The ‘union’ – ‘my union’ keeps giving all that supports the middle class away, but management wants ME! I am saving the trades.”

As a result, bread & butter, equity, equality, racial & gender issues and more, have gone backwards with the strategy of VOD, which sells skills of an individual akin to a temp agency to customers!

How do we know this? Well the first 9 organizers who started Labor Combat/Labor Rising researched the trades’ strategies and inner decisions from 1969 on. That work was done from 2007 thru 2012. We are confident we have most of the confidential internal documents of consultants, internationals and many affiliates used from then till now. The research of Labor Rising produced a 474-page single spaced White Paper in 2012. And we have built upon it with 822 trained organizers to date from 378 locals/DCs across all of North America. We have a small stadium of bodies from whom we learn. We also know where the “bodies are buried” related to political advancement.

From 1990 till 1999, when I and others taught in apprenticeship programs, few trades had a labor history component in those classes, so we had to build one from scratch. Even fewer trades unions have one today.

Of course, labor history is not enough. Every member needs to have a connection to field organizing and street theater. We know that disenfranchised members, and even worse those that who work 2,000+ hours seldom – if ever – go to a union meeting. Not being connected to how you put food on the table is central to our losing.

The workers’ MOVEMENT of our Founders took every type of worker that was delivered to America’s doorstep from across the world and created the middle class. Our trades’ Founders took on the worse that corporations could throw at them and did not just survive – they advanced workers, non-union and union alike.

With the epic failure of trades’ business unionism and Value on Display, the trades have continually gone backwards. At the core is tradespersons who think they are the center of the trades’ universe. Just look at Facebook for example. Huge numbers of predominantly union tradesMEN hate people of color, women in the trades, non-union workers, immigrants, vote against union interest and even hate their own union! Value on Display at its worst has helped fostered this hate.

I specifically remember the Fight for $15 minimum wage in Chicago in 2012. Members of my local and I joined several protests. Back then, and still today, union tradespersons beat down workers they believe are not skilled, so not deserving of that kind of money. WOW! Talk about entitled.

Value on Display has created the deep divisions between workers in the trades & outside of the trades.

President Elect Biden will perhaps get Bernie Sanders and/or Sara Nelson as Labor Secretary. CIO and professional unions will improve numbers with a friendly Labor Secretary. Why? Because they know how to organize and how to adapt to the changing nature of working with workers. They have activists that pull in the same direction.

The trades have long abandoned organizing workers in the trenches. The little that is done is top-down – a loser by the numbers, and even worse is bottom-up. Bottom-up does not work in enough number to raise market share in the trades because of several major factors. The top factor is the ever-changing dynamics of the make up of the work force, employees, independent contractors, temp employees, part-time & cash to name a few. Bottom-up is for fixed populations – not transient groups.

The average otherwise solid organizer we encounter in training has little understanding of market formatting, SIC/NAICS codes, Excel, cloud sharing, credit reports, what a salt vs. pepper is, labor law as it relates to recognition & secondary law, hiring law and how to handle an underfunded pension discussion – just to name a few important considerations.

It is not the member organizers that fail – it is the BS and diluted training they receive. They are recruiters by design. Even if the internationals just concentrated on top-down, those “marketers” would have to know most of the above skill sets. They DO NOT by design!

Organizers in the trades must know how to go after the “wallet” of the senior most decision makers with regards to construction – senior most, not the sub. They have to understand a Compression Zone, which considers contraction & consolidation of the industry due to technology, along with the sheer number of roll-ups taking place. Without knowing the items in the last 2 paragraphs, the trades’ organizers, and the trades themselves will keep losing – even with friendly help in legislation.

Our Founders NEVER waited on friendly and/or unfriendly legislation. They never blamed anyone and knew it was on them to organize workers and impose a Collective Bargaining Agreement on the owners, regardless if they wanted one or not!  

EVERYONE knows the trades and its members are fractured along political and skill lines – management, government, politicians, AFL-CIO and our own senior leaders. We have zero power to deliver on any promise and/or threat.

It appears that the 14 International Presidents think they have a pro-labor friend entering the White House. What we feel is they clearly DO NOT have the infrastructure to improve market share without a wholesale change in strategy. With time being short, it is on the General Executive Councils to “man up” and kick start this puppy! Circumstances are changing – are you going to step into battle or drift into obscurity?

Labor Rising has told the NABTU several times in private to put Labor Rising anywhere in North America and WE will organize it – anywhere. Come on, make us put up or shut up! You have a few hundred true organizers that are ready – cut them loose!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

“… the end of the beginning”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Building Trades International Presidents are Hiding in the Back Row –

Just like when we come in late to work, church or any event we duck into the back row, our Building Trades International Presidents continue to hide in the back row of workers’ lives in North American. They “hope and pray” for infrastructure legislation, pension bailouts, a retreat in RTW laws, along with a host of other substantial issues facing workers today and in the years to come.

We are weeks away from potentially an historic election and Supreme Court Rulings; and, past an endorsement and electioneering (which are important), what the hell are the IP’s doing about where labor is positioned? If the past is a prologue for these IP’s – NOTHING more! What our senior leaders define as BOLD INITIATIVES are just hollow words used to sound tough and forward thinking. They are not!

The IP’s put window dressing around racial issues. They fire off a circular letter and run some boilerplate racial equity BS in the trades’ respective magazines. Past that, can anyone please let Labor Rising know of ANY pro-active, in-the-trenches actions of our senior leaders? Pictures would help – be it of a strike (economic or social), a legal and lawful protest on the streets, opinion pieces of substance in print taking a definitive position that addresses workers’ economic inequity for decades. And then, backing it up with sustainable actions – which BTW requires a PLAN!

The death of the Building Trades MOVEMENT happened decades ago, relieving our senior leaders of any commitment to economic and social justice. And not so coincidentally – within the exact time frame that Value on Display has been the STRATEGY of the trades. 

Can even one International President claim a life dedicated to the mission of labor as measured by any of our Founders? Outside of the trades, great people continue to lead with lifetime commitments of action. RIP RBG, John Lewis, Delores Huerta, Robert White (Canada) and many others (outside of the trades) doing the work of advancing workers, WITHOUT any help from the trades! 

The Trades’ senior leaders just do not want to fight. “Good Trouble” is so foreign to them – they will hide in the back row and see how it all turns out.

Recruiting a non-union worker is OK, although not much more than a short-term band-aid. The trades are rift with band-aids. Contrast that with the underlying ability for workers to join a union and imposing a CBA on their employers. Earning that right is the “gold ring” of trade activism. The first gets the trades nowhere, hence why retention in the trades is at and under 1:1. And, the latter requires actions far beyond what those in leadership have been doing. No heart – that is what we call that in the field. Rationalization at its most pronounced level with every reason to fail. Hiding from the oath and commitment taken as an apprentice right up thru their swearing-in as senior leaders.

When Roosevelt passed the Wagner Act in 1935 the trades senior leadership were ready to push union organizing. They hit the ground running and made substantial gains. How substantial? The result is what we call the middle class. Even if Biden wins and he can get legislative HELP for organizing, the trades are going nowhere. The trades cannot react and start anew then and there. Well they could, but they will not be effective. The organizers in the field who know how to correctly format the market for organizing (not selling) likely came thru the Labor Rising training, and if given the chance, will be effective in winning market share! It is a “night & day” difference today from how the trades were poised in the 30’s to leverage pro-labor legislation!

If Trump wins, labor will be classed as terrorist organizations if they do not conform to his vision. The Patriot Act of 2001 and modified in 2015 has key provisions remaining that can be and/or are hostile to labor. Labor Rising wrote about the Patriot Act three times in the last 8 years in our blogs. Labor has been in this position before in North American history – being treated as enemies of the state. Leaders back then fought thru those days and propelled labor to even higher levels. Our leaders today are not those leaders! Not even close.

With such a complete lack of leadership, the trades will be in the potential position of being controlled or put out of “BUSINESS”. Right now, the betting money is the senior leaders will be collaborative (capitulate) partners to business and an authoritarian style of government or even worse. Trump will also sink the pensions, sign a national RTW law, finish restructuring the NLRB and take many more actions to eliminate free, organized, and independent labor unions. Yet the trades’ senior leaders keep selling training. Boy does this feel like the Titanic as the ship sinks, and the band keeps playing. SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT!

In most Labor Rising organizing trainings we teach the organizers that they HAVE TO run over existing senior leaders. Challenge them at every turn. RESIST and do not wait on the convention which has been scripted! The International Presidents will not change – so force it! The biggest obstacle to the trades winning is the senior leaders!

Vernon Johns’ version of “good trouble” is…

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity,

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Ranger Handbook vs Building Trades Academy & Organizing –

Delta Force, Seal Team 6 and MARSOC all have developed and structured battle plans for engagement. They ID friend from foe and understand that today’s ally may be tomorrow’s foe!

Contrast that with the Building Trades (BT), which have tools to sell Value on Display on one axis of market development and bottom-up on the other axis. Tools not strategies! Organizers have next to zero ability to ID the foes from friends on the battlefield of construction past the obvious. Hidden from an organizer’s education and training are the senior decision makers and the $$$ that bankroll the construction.

And then there is recruitment. The capitulation of senior BT leaders for hours. With retention in the trades running at or below 1:1 for the BT net, desperate leaders show how inept they are and wave the “white flag” by having great organizers waste valuable time and resources on yet another band aid approach to securing market share!

Both axes used now for decades are abject losers “NET” for winning market share. Labor Rising has found just 9 BT unions out of 317 trained to date that have developed structured and written organizing strategies – NINE!

The Ranger Handbook (et al) is the opposite of the historical losing streak of the North American Building Trades Union (NABTU). The first is the very definition of structure and discipline while the latter is not. Consider the NABTU website – Organizing per se is not even listed on the main menu. It is quasi-listed under Apprenticeship & Training as a bullet point – The Building Trades Academy (BTA).

Thousands have attended the BTA, which seldom changes or evolves. It offers the same losing classes, by and large, that are taught in an ever-changing environment/battlefield where the BT continues to lose market share. The fractured, splintered and incomplete tools provided lead to losing in the field. Numbers can be manipulated to lie; however, the numbers “NET” from the BT are rock solid losers over decades!

BTA classes knowingly (or unknowingly) foster losing, as it is built into the BTA classes. Few participants even know it until they go back into the field and have no idea what to do the day after BTA classes end. They lose far more times than they win, hence the continuous downward trajectory of market share and density, and yet the BTA continues to teach systemic losing.

The equation is simple and straight forward. Either every trade organizer/market rep across North America and across all trades are clueless in using the tools they’ve been taught at the BTA, or the classes are incomplete and ineffective due to the underlying strategy of Value on Display (VOD) that is interlaced throughout the training. In addition to the chronic losing perpetrated by the VOD tool is bottom-up training. Both are taught and tantamount to sending sheep to slaughter. The organizers/market reps are not the reason why we lose. We lose because of the incomplete tools we pass off as strategies that are core to losing!

NOTE: Please read the complete course descriptions provide on the website.

BTA 101: Strategic Planning –

“This course covers the developing and applying a full strategic plan. Specifically, participants will review basic concepts of research, analysis and strategic planning for construction organizing.”

Reality: The BTA does not cover SIC/NAICS codes in depth, opposition research and how to maximize its use, market formatting in Excel, how to use and read various credit reports, strengths and weaknesses analyses, hiring law and more. Labor Rising has trained hundreds of participants who have been through the BTA organizing sessions. To a person, Labor Rising is asked why if we can teach it well enough for them to use it, why can’t the BTA?

BTA 102: Closing the Deal –

 “This course is intended to help union locals and building trades councils effectively manage their organizing activities and to efficiently use union resources. This course covers the developing and applying a full strategic plan.”

Reality: The BTA trains selling via Value on Display, aka top-down, to the exclusion of organizing with the exception of bottom-up.  VOD/top-down is a TOOL not a strategy.

BTA 103: Getting the Word Out

It is about social media and communications, but I am not even going to quote a section in the description because it is far to touchy feely.

Reality: Until the entire BT and affiliates have a text messaging/communications platform from our Internationals, down to our local unions, we are going nowhere! Developed membership lists need to be used so as not to spam the NABTU memberships. A message to apprentices or retirees is specific by its nature and should only be sent to those who need it. These tailored lists HAVE TO be crafted to be effective as an organization. It is why Ranger groups (et al) win – through effective communications, comprehensive intelligence, preparation & practice, and development of underlying written strategy!  

BTA 104: Campaign Organizing

“This course offers a comprehensive overview of organizing issues related to the construction industry, offering constructive ways to organize the industry, including the value proposition for members, contractors and construction owners.”

Reality: This is all BS. Comprehensive is a gross overstatement. And again, there is a disproportionate emphasis on VOD. See the word “constructive” above? It is the very word that makes VOD a losing program! IMPOSING a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on the construction industry has NOT been viewed as CONSTRUCTIVE by our 14 International Presidents for decades now. If you reply that bottom-up imposes a CBA on management, you are technically correct. Good luck on that. Bottom-up was NOT designed for building trades unions, as it is far too transient with temp employees, 1099’s, cash and a mix of bogies that just keep moving. Additional hurdles include organizers who only last about 2 years in the position and an adversarial NLRB, just to name a few. There are a few locals that have game with bottom-up, but not enough to move the needle in the game of market share. Even they are NOT prevailing “NET”. Bottom-up was designed for fixed campaigns, e.g. a fab shop and the like.

BTA 105: Contract Negotiations

“This course is for union officers and staff members who negotiate labor agreements with their signatory contractors.”

Reality:  Not a bad course based on comments from those who have attended.

BTA 106: Labor Law for the Construction Industry

“Federal labor law provides special provisions applicable to the construction industry because of the unique nature of employment in construction.”

Reality:  Sections 7 & 8 can be effectively taught in about 3 hours. What is completely lacking is a thorough discussion of recognition and secondary boycotts, including what specifically they mean to winning in the field. Replace the losing instruction of how to run a bottom-up campaign with how to get to the wallets of the senior decision makers in construction and the trades will win again. Bottom-up is a tool – not a strategy. It has a place as a tool inside a strategy, but it cannot win in enough numbers as THE strategy. So, it begs the question – what is the written strategy of how to raise market share/density? Where are your locals’/DCs’ Ranger Handbook?

Long ago, a great organizer taught me a valuable lesson: “Put ‘puppet strings’ on the anti/non-union contractors’ hiring, and the trades win.” Yet, 99% of those attending Labor Rising do not have a clue how to use hiring law & the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). So, we recruit and then do nothing more. More would be securing an exit interview from every non-union worker. More would be learning about how the anti/non-union hires and their application process (and BTW, securing ALL relevant info on the anti/non-union employer). More would be attacking their hiring processes or lack thereof in a structured manner. More would be attacking anti/non-union employers and temp agencies both overtly and covertly. More would be to deny those contractors access to workers via the application process, websites, Craigs List, etc., or have them think that they may be hiring union field organizers. Teach this!

BTA 107: Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3): Train-the-Trainer

“This course is required for apprentice instructors, representatives of Building Trades Councils and their affiliates, and/or Council partners who plan to implement the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3). Each prospective program must send at least one representative to this class.”

Reality:  Remember above when Labor Rising said that the trades have “Fractured, splintered and incomplete tools that lead to losing in the field?” This is part and parcel to that comment. There is some really good stuff in this class. However, it has the effect of sending an organizer/market rep in far too many directions. What is the underlying STRATEGY of this, and specifically, not conceptionally, how does it fit into winning?

BTA 108: Business Managers Training

“This class is a management and leadership course for Building Trades local union officers.”

For Labor Rising, this is the litmus test. If a new or old BM buys into the business side of unions after decades of losing, then Labor Rising is NOT for you or your local/DC. Can a movement and business exist side by side? Every single number since the early 70’s resoundingly says NO!! We only work with a union/DC that has a renegade style BM. One that hates losing and does not tolerate it or chalk it up to “it is what it is.”

The principle of Occam’s razor may apply to the BT! That is when all facts are accounted for regarding two explanations, the simpler explanation is more likely to be correct.

Explanation # 1: Perhaps the BT senior leaders alone want to strike deals with senior management in respective sectors of construction with PLAs and specialty agreements of every type as appeasement & concessions to management to keep enough hours coming in to keep their gig. Recruiting, top-down and spin your wheels on bottom-up fits well within that agenda.

Explanation #2: The BT is committed to a hard-core organizing effort to sign a CBA, regardless if contractors want one or not; and to empower organizers with the necessary tools and abilities to raise all workers up & in keeping with our Founders’ vision. In short to be a MOVEMENT of free and independent trade unions. One person one vote!  

What Labor Rising knows is that every time we train a winner to organize, they are thwarted, promoted, reassigned, fired, or told to put door hangers on the non-union workers’ doors to try and recruit them. Hence why Labor Rising only works with those leaders who reside in Explanation #2.

Occam’s razor – it’s a bitch!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Building Trade Owned and Operated Construction Management Company –

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

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

Take a guess where the money comes from to achieve the 2 purposes above. If you guessed union contractors and union wages, hard numbers and facts say you are right! This is a big reason why we continue to have all the specialty agreements along with the increased use of PLAs (Project Labor Agreements).  For decades, the trades have conceded more and more concessions and have continued to lose market share. The strategy of Value on Display ignores this reality completely.

This concept of CCM was nearly 35 years ahead of its time and is still very viable today. In most Building Trades Councils that Labor Rising visits, it is the for-profit construction managers that are squeezing the unions off the jobs acting on behalf of their clients. The “good cop – bad cop” games played between the end-user, developer, construction manager and the general contractor are consistently pitting one union against another, and union vs non-union.

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

CCM was in the “black” by its third year. It sent a clear and powerful message to the construction managers then coming into business and their clients. 35 years ago much of the construction was performed union in Milwaukee – so a deal was made to suspend CCM, because it truly would compete with for-profit Construction Managers on just too many jobs with which unions had a relationship.

Jump ahead 35 years and few relationships exist, and ALL that do are driven by $$$$ – hence all the concessions, which BTW we are still losing on!

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

CCM is a for-profit company; however, early on could minimize profits in favor of securing jobs. The medium to large construction managers cannot.                                                                          

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

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

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

CCM falls under corporate law and NOT labor law – hopefully, the readers understand this – it is huge!

As profits rise and CCM eliminates non/anti-union competition, many benefits present themselves. Top of the list is that underfunded pensions would be the clear winner with a union owned construction manager. More hours paid at top dollar with little threat to their very existence. Those underfunded pension plans need money and hours asap. Even if all D’s sweep into office in November, at best the pensions get a bailout and not a long-term sustainable solution!

The trades could be a temp agency and dispatch workers for any number of situations.

As to how to fund CCM, look at our current budgets for political activity, labor/management relations, the use of contractors’ crack (aka market recapture funds, won’t need them any longer), representational and market development activities – all which have NOT led to increased market share “net”. All or part of these budgets can be redeployed “if” we develop union construction management entities. Now that is a real value-added concept – a WIN/WIN scenario for all but the non/anti-union construction manager. Someone IS LEAVING the construction world in the upcoming decades – either the trades or the existing for profits construction managers. Senior leaders – Brent Emons and The Milwaukee BT – gave you a way out of this disaster. Can we please quit standing on the RR tracks waiting to get run over!

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

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

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

The entire legal framework exists, which is hundreds of legal hours necessary for CCM to be viable – done and still viable per the lawyers who have reviewed them! They are being made available by Brother Emons, through Labor Rising for the last 8 years, to again provide a forceful, real world solution to increased market share before we are dead. The Building Trades at the local, state and national levels can be our own legal construction managers through consortiums of regional and national unions and building trades! Think of the Gulf States with a Building Trades CCM and many other parts of the U.S. The lawyers would have to chime in on whether or not this can be done in Canada.

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

The CCM document includes:

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

Thank you, Brother Emons, for the vision.

The Articles of Incorporation are completely done and living.

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

Articles of Incorporation –    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4091&authkey=!AOLovtNorbitcQ0&ithint=file%2cpdf    

 Business Plan of CCM –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4095&authkey=!AC5adMs3LjYq448&ithint=file%2cpdf   

 Bylaws of CCM –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4096&authkey=!AH1pjd4PrdA50II&ithint=file%2cpdf       

Shareholders Meeting of CCM –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4093&authkey=!AHd1LEVzccM0_Bw&ithint=file%2cpdf  

Meeting Notes of CCM #1 –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4097&authkey=!AK4LcK9Whc4I2ec&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #2 –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4094&authkey=!APLnoyRadbraz7g&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #3 –

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=20B7C846BD8B8E62!4092&authkey=!AGDOJj0T-UAEmfk&ithint=file%2cpdf

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

 

A Defining American Experience is Happening Right Now –

The Trades have not cornered the market on racism – but, we have certainly contributed to it!

If you see Brother Floyd as an individual, with the flaws of an individual person – stop reading now. More than likely you are part of the problem! If you saw a Black man lynched in broad daylight, read on. It is why Black Lives Matter – too!

Gut check time for the trades:

  • Failed at accepting Black Americans and women into the trades – from the beginning of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) on December 8, 1886 to the present day
  • Failed at being a business – using its brand of Value on Display
  • Failed as a MOVEMENT defending and advancing workers’ rights – regardless if they are union or not for the last 40 years
  • Failed at organizing
  • And, on the brink of failing to keep the promise of a pension – many pensions have already failed and many more will

Gut check #1 – Failed at accepting Black Americans and women into the trades

Discrimination in The AFL Labor Movement? Most craft unions either refused or, as in iron and steel and meatpacking, failed to organize the less skilled. Since perceived skill lines tended to conform to racial, ethnic and gender divisions, the trade union movement took on a racist and sexist coloration as well. For a short period, the AFL resisted that tendency. But in 1895, unable to launch an interracial machinists’ union of its own, the Federation reversed an earlier principled decision and chartered the Whites-only International Association of Machinists. Formally or informally, the color bar thereafter spread throughout the trade union movement. In 1902, Blacks made up scarcely 3 percent of total membership, most of them segregated in Jim Crow locals. In the case of women and eastern European immigrants, a similar devolution occurred – welcomed as equals in theory, excluded, or segregated in practice.

https://www.history.com/topics/19th-century/labor

In some cases, Black Americans and woman are in worse numbers today than they were 140 years ago when the construction trades were founded. Here are just some of the jurisdictions and blended jurisdictions from the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm    NOTE: view the entire list for details. Also, this represents union & non-union workers. Some BT unions have a better percentage of Black/woman members – some do not – they come close in net numbers! Question to ponder: Who are the North Americans BT’s going to ORGANIZE, not recruit?                                                                                 

                                                          Percent of:   Female      Male      Black      Asian     Hispanic

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons    0.7         91.6       5.2         1.2              37.7

Carpenters                                                                   2.8        89.1       5.1         1.5              37.3

Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers       1.9         90.8       5.1         0.5              59.7

Cement masons, concrete finishers                        3.0         89.5       4.4         1.1              53.5

Construction laborers                                               3.5         85.3       8.6         1.6              46.7

Operating engineers & const equip operators     1.7         85.1       8.9         0.9              14.9

Drywall installers and tapers                                    0.7         91.1      2.5         1.7              67.7

Electricians                                                                  2.2         87.4       6.8         2.6              21.1

Insulation workers                                                     3.7         91.8       5.9         1.4              43.3

Painters, construction and maintenance               8.9         87.4       8.1         0.6              55.5

Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, & steamfitters 2.7        87.1       8.4         0.9              27.1

Roofers                                                                         1.9        87.7       5.2         0.7              50.7

Sheet metal workers                                                  6.8         89.1      6.7         2.3              28.9

Structural iron and steel workers – not rebar        0.9        75.7       11.7       7.8              18.7

An example of a white racist trades-person’s post on FB is that Black Americans are privileged because they have Jordan sneakers, Beeps headphones, new cell phones, “free breakfast” at school – all paid for by various social welfare programs as a “privilege”. These kinds of posts are all over the trades’ forums.

But, for most Black Americans having new Jordan’s is like the white trades guy driving a $50,000 pickup and Beeps is their version of a premium sound system in a HOUSE! The fact that many cannot provide a meal to their children should infuriate us and not be viewed as a “freebie”.

All the self-serving FB comments like “I bust my ass” – belie any knowledge of life outside of their own. For those type of trades-persons, and there are many, it is all about “me”. Note to those racists: Black Americans have been and continue to be LOCKED OUT of the ability to bust their ass to secure the same way of life you have! LOCKED OUT! The opposite of that is White privilege, which means that if a White citizen busts their ass, they actually can have a slice (or the whole pie) of the American dream. The playing field of life for a Black American has never been even close to equal to that of a typical White American – NEVER!

At one time in American history “Irish need not apply” dominated the business want ads. Jump ahead to Hispanic Americans, illegal or not, who have “bull-dogged” their way into the trades and a piece of the pie. They were certainly beat down and it was a beating to be sure. However, they were NOT locked out!

From the time of slavery until today some 6,500 Black Americans have been lynched. That is “JUST” lynching’s reported as cause of death! Defining moments are abundantly and clearly anti-Black throughout many milestones of U.S. policy.

Take for example how the GI Bill’s promise was denied to Black WWII Veterans.

Many Black Americans could not access the GI Bill for housing, education & other benefits that helped propel White Americans who were willing to “bust their ass” for a better life. As a White GI if you wanted to be a small business, have the best health care, buy a house – bust your ass, go to college/trade school and it is all available to you. But, not so for an overwhelming majority of Black GIs as their respective states’ politicians meted out availability of the benefits according to their preferences and prejudices. And, the Civil Rights Act was 20 years away from enactment!

https://www.history.com/news/gi-bill-Black-wwii-veterans-benefits

From my personal historical perspective, if you are aged 65 years or older, as I am, you witnessed the Civil Rights Bill being enacted in 1964. Shockingly, there are recorded lynching even during the 60’s!

In 1968 I attended Proviso East HS, a majority Black HS, when the Chicago riots were sparked in part by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Rioting and looting followed, with people flooding the streets of major cities, primarily in Black urban areas.

In August 1968, knowing that there was a draft going on and that I was going to be draft eligible, I went to hear the Vietnam veterans who had returned from the war. At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, thousands of Vietnam War protesters battled police in the streets, while the Democratic Party fell apart over an internal disagreement concerning its stance on Vietnam. Many Black American soldiers felt that they were fighting a White man’s war yet again.

The next year while at Proviso East HS, the Black Panthers’ Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, were shot to death by Chicago police on December 4, 1969. Fourteen police officers raided Hampton’s apartment, which was a known Illinois Black Panther Party stronghold in Chicago’s West Side.

Off to the Army – I know that many Black and White soldiers formed enduring interracial friendships while fighting overseas. I was grateful for those friendships; however, inequities and blatantly racist treatment stained their experiences both during and after the war. In Vietnam, Black soldiers were disproportionately sent to the front lines, jailed, or disciplined at a higher rate and promoted less often. Upon their return to the U.S., they were presented with menial job opportunities, often denied support by Veterans Affairs (Agent Orange and other substantial disabilities) and received little empathy from their own communities.

Many local unions, including mine, had consent decrees requiring admission of minorities as early as the late 60’s – all to too little avail.

I taught in the apprenticeship in my Local in the 90’s. I can count on 2 hands the Black apprentices then. We saw our first women in the trades in the mid 90’s, even though the enrollment and workloads had been at their peak and continued until 2008. I literally had guys recruited off bar stools in class – nice! Heaven forbid a Black or woman veteran.

We talk about worker and skill shortages in the trades, yet young Black citizens in huge unemployed numbers are not organized/recruited other than in rhetoric. The trades cannot just snap their fingers and recruit Black citizens after 140 years of locking them out. We need to build trust, and with the comments I’ve see for years on FB, why would Black citizens want to come our way?! Ditto for women in the trades. I have personally been told more than a dozen times that it is NOT the older tradesmen that give the women the most grief. It is the entitled younger white males who do.

And…well indigenous American Indians have yet an entirely separate history of near genocide!

Gut check # 2, 3 and 4 – The trades’ failure as a business, as a MOVEMENT and to organize

BLS: Just 12.6% of U.S. Construction Industry is Unionized – March 3, 2020

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual union members summary report published Jan. 22, 2020, union membership in the construction industry increased slightly in 2019. However, just 12.6% of wage and salary workers were members of unions in the U.S. private construction industry. NOTE: The trades’ “net” counts on their respective LM-2 include many tens of thousands non-working participants, such as Honorary members and other designations.

According to BLS data, construction unions gained just 7,000 members in a year-over-year comparison (1.048 million workers in 2018 to 1.055 million workers in 2019), even though the U.S. construction industry added 192,000 workers (8.169 million workers in 2018 to 8.352 million workers in 2019).

This data suggests that fewer workers chose to join unions as the construction industry’s workforce grew in the robust U.S. economy.  Likewise, union membership as a percentage of the U.S. construction industry has steadily declined throughout the last 75 years. In 1947, approximately 87% of its workforce was unionized. During the construction industry’s recession in 2010, just 801,000 construction industry workers belonged to a union (13.1%), the smallest number of union members in recent history.

Visit the BLS’ website to view the news release and the full report

Gut check #5 – Failure of pensions – many have – many more will

Not a fan of 11th hour hyperbole, however it is the 11th hour for Taft Hartley pensions. The last stimulus package provided no PBGC and/or relief for underfunded existing trades pensions. The odds appear long that “IF” there is another stimulus, it will NOT provide for T/H pensions. It then falls to the election and the Ds have to win all 3 branches to even talk about relief. Problematic is the sheer size of the debt being amassed. And, should the Rs really feel they are in a position to lose in November across the board, they will spend everything they can before exiting. With all the “what ifs” possible, MAYBE the T/H plans get $100 billion or so to fund PBGC. That is a long shot today – and NOWHERE near the money needed to pay for the promises made to date! Think of it as 30 cents on the dollar of promised benefits for insolvent pensions. Hours will continue to fall as market share continues to drop. Markets are inconsistent to poor – so no help there either. Most pension funds need approximately 7% out of the box (it is called the actuarial assumption and is set in stone by and large). Only (and Labor Rising means only) ORGANIZING, in which we take both the contractor and workers and IMPOSE a CBA on them, can get us out of this collective hole we have dug for OURSELVES! And while we’re at it, we also need to go after the wallets of those end-users, developers, and CMs that show consistent anti-union sentiment and practices!

The senior leaders of the trades talk smack – stuff like, “We have to be bold”. Our take is that bold means getting a “certain state BT leader who is at the top of his game” to run the NABTU (hint: he may or may not be from a certain large west coast state). BTW, the NABTU has elections in August.

If not that – we can provide 3 women organizing candidates who can and will kick start the trades and break the status quo. This is not being politically correct – these women have proven track records. The trades are different than the unions these women organize in; however, they will adapt and win. I would also take Brother JW in a heartbeat to run organizing – but it has to be his way. The current BT organizers by and large are not the problem – it is the strategy of Value on Display that is the loser. Lose it! What does it say that the most successful unions for the last decade, in an anti-union environment, are All run by women!?!

The trades need to jettison the racist dead weight and again be a MOVEMENT!

This is on you senior leaders – right now you are going down with the Titanic. Time to build a current ship consistent with improving workers’ lives both on and off the jobs. North America is growing activist again. Organizers are learning the ins and outs – out on the streets & with their computers. A new day is here – so suck it up buttercup, it is their time! Another Building Trades can be founded which will be much more in line with the goals of our labor Founders. Ask The Knights of Labor how fast a labor movement can be replaced.

In Solidarity,

“if you see a good fight – get in it” Vernon Johns said this – look him up

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Trump Did Not Cause Chaos – Chaos Caused Trump –

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far too few voters and even many trades Brothers & Sisters do not use true Fact Checking services as they want to believe that which validates their fears. They are only a click or two away from solid news. Not fake news – cited and sourced facts in context. Both far left and alt right wing have many sites that create a lot of misinformation. For those who see President Trump as the second coming to those that see him as the anti-Christ, not much can help them. For the rest do some homework and post it! https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/2020/04/12/the-10-best-fact-checking-websites-for-2020/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising/Labor Combat

 

CONSTRUCTION ANALYTICS ECONOMICS BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Band of Brothers & Sisters –

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

 https://edzarenski.com/ 

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

He does call it the way the numbers stack up. 

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

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

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

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity –

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising 

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

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

At a minimum, an effective written plan would include:

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

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

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

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

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

Intro to Rochester Research via Labor Rising –  https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgq1akY0LFWV-04vmI?e=TYziwK

NOTE: may take a bit to download.

  1. Part 1. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgqm5vfKnYL54OVKUw?e=MVDkyv
  2. Part 2. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgqm18mice3bKELcBU?e=hFLkJa
  3. Part 3. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgqmvssIASJ68cJ7Ni?e=WySlMa
  4. Part 4. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgqm8DfJPmBWDzbgoc?e=cv79WL
  5. Part 5. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmKOi71GyLcgqmzN04eeM7Z9Rpkt?e=ZTJ357
  6. Research Template – https://1drv.ms/w/s!AmKOi71GyLcgnBsIaJK0z36D27iD?e=jzbOEW

 

  • You also need to be able to work in Excel, we know from experience that 85% or more of existing organizers don’t know how to use Excel as an organizing tool. Here is an old link of a BT union on Excel to practice on: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmKOi71GyLcg3GqIVslwrNY4SWSm?e=oDblNQ Download it as a start. Now can you sort by column (as long as your spreadsheet is formatted that way) the respective revenues of companies in order to plot them on a revenue scatter chart. How do we build respective charts, graphs, etc. in Excel? Can you select the cell or range of cells that you want to format? Can you share the document and when changes are made by another organizer flag yours to reflect that change? Can you add articles, media, documents etc.? There is so many more valuable capabilities available with this research data. For those of you who know how to use it appropriately – teach the others. For those that can’t – learn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising