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11.3% –


This is the number recently reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Building Trades market share for 2015 of work done union.

Its remains unchanged from 2014 and went unreported by the leadership of the trades.

Market share as a percentage has continuously dropped – “NET” since 1973; and has accelerated as a percentage of market share since 2002.

Density of unions – the discussion that the Rank & File are NEVER privy to is at alarming levels and put the trades at the threshold of collapsing!

Is this hyperbole and/or an overly dramatic assessment? Not even a little.

It is the reality the trades find themselves in – or more to the point, why we are used less and less.

It is both a business equation and a very personal decision.

A business decision because if the trades can’t organize and keep themselves viable as an entity that HAS TO be dealt with – business will continue to transfer the union contractors and workers to the non-union.

There are real number counters from the labor community with the skills to know – that say that the trades collapse upon themselves at approx. 7.8%. To top heavy along with a culture that both can’t and won’t change. Change is no small task for the Building Trades because we have been, and are a business brand selling to customers. Changing back to a MOVEMENT requires strong and dedicated leadership at the top. Having the same boring and losing agenda and meeting sets and discussions continue to WORK against us. For every touchy/feely panel discussion held at our meeting on what should we in labor do – there are scores of meeting concurrently being held in construction to minimize the trades and elicit even more concession from them, while they can get it!  Get it!

Question – if they need us so bad, then why are we still conceding on every aspect of work? Why are we signing PLA’s instead of CBA’s?

One can see the inability to be a MOVEMENT in the trades in the way they are now approaching market share. Recruitment is not Organizing – that is taking bodies and inserting them into locals that in many areas already have a standing membership that is either under or un-employed. It is not putting up Rat inflatables and banging on drums on busy streets. It is not whining to legislators about how unfair the laws are.

Very simply stated it is about bringing huge amounts of UNCERTAINTY to the construction market via very lethal practices of labor unrest. Targeted control of means of production and outcomes. Showing up as labor when the contractors can least predict when, where and how we attack their profitable. Targeting the world of construction company’s clients, credit and social footprint/perception.

It is signing/imposing a full CBA on a non-union company. If the Building Trades are not signing real and full CBA’s, they are by definition, which are very clear in the market share numbers – losing.

It is also a very personal decision by workers both union or not.

I was just at an event where the District Council president was pissed because the union can’t man big time jobs in the middle of no-where. He just hasn’t been hanging with the Rank & File. They are done with being on the road for any longer than absolutely necessary – case closed! The newer generation of workers value being with their family and community over chasing money that is really not their any longer. Going on the road to MAYBE do a little better than breakeven – not happening. So the DC president thinks it’s because the local BM won’t co-operate to man the job – which by the way is also part of the equation in many situations.

Skilled non-union workers have said repeatedly for the last decade and longer that if the union can’t keep them working – why join?

Which leaves the union to recruit marginal – totally unskilled workers and make them available to fill critical skills jobs. So bodies are brought in and given very minimal safety and skills training – typically a week or two and dispatched to jobs.

Meanwhile the non/anti-union are using dedicated hard core recruiters to take the trades best and brightest hands, along with all their business connections and cell phones full of workers numbers.

Under this exact equation – the trades are not sustainable. We train and ID new workers. Pay the cost to weed them out – give them basic starting points across the board – with an expected return on an investment in training years away. The recruited individual described above is just that – an individual. We are training individual to fill spots, and then question if they will be loyal to a union. Even a class in Labor History is not changing that. Camaraderie and connection is built over time and thru both good times and adversity – now labor history can and will work as the cement.

So they get some basic training and jobsite exposure, get big time pay, benefits which they use at the funds demise since they are as a group, an older lot with families and build a book of contacts.

We are by definition training our competition!

The numbers are absolutely traceable and large numbers leak out on the back side and direct hard core recruitment is taking place on the front side – unsustainable for the trades. If the internationals would count hours and not membership cards; as we know they do – they know this!

Then why continue? WE are a business brand with customers and we would offend the world of construction with large doses of labor unrest. Add to that is that our otherwise wonderfully passionate organizers don’t have a clue on how to bring massive amounts of street heat, and lay it on the world of construction doorsteps on labors terms.

If 11.3% of work in record construction spending is the best we can do with a failed Value on Display – then when work plays out, or even retreats back to more realistic numbers – 7.8% cliff is unfortunately well within a probability!

We didn’t even discuss the continuing effects of modularization and technology in construction delivery in the above equation, which is having devastating consequences on construction, especially when the trades have critically low market share.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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