Labor Rising Logo
Call (630) 373-0774

14 Trades Need Teamster General President O’Brien to be Their President –

James, Eric, Mark, Timothy, Jimmy, Doug, the other James, Terrence, Kenneth, Kevin, Brent, Michael and, unfortunately, even Frank & Warren (great letter) are being shown up in every way by General President, Sean O’Brien of the Teamsters! 

He is the only one we can legitimately call Brother if you really stop and think about it.

Elected in November of 2021 by direct election of one member-one vote, he was neither the incumbent nor endorsed by the incumbent. He makes approximately 65% of the salary of each of the 14 above-listed minions of management (aka building trades general presidents).

Brother Sean (not to be confused whatsoever with the WHATEVER over at the NABTU) has stood on more picket lines than the entire other 14 GP’s. Typically, the above 14 GP’s use a picket as a photo op; and, unbelievably, they are as likely to be on some other union’s picket than their own trade’s!

Brother Sean leads 1.4 million active activist Teamsters members, more than the combined memberships of the remaining 14 Building Trades, which is just under a million active members. And the 14 have a creative way of counting members – just look at Schedule 13 of your respective International’s LM-2.

Teamsters by contrast are winning members and improving members’ lives both on & off the job. This blog isn’t long enough to list them all, but you know about UPS & the Amazon Organizing Division.

Conversely, the trades continue to lose market share and members “NET”, which is mind blowing considering all the infrastructure work going on in North America.

So why wouldn’t all of the BT trades’ members want to come under the Teamsters banner? Particularly when the BT Rank & File pays for what are virtually carbon copies of each other’s Internationals organizations along with huge senior salaries, expenses and feather bedding administrations.

The 14 BT General Presidents surely do look like they kowtow to management. Evidence: end-users, CURT, NMAPC, AGC, TAUC, et al, along with all of the management associations (mostly paid for by R&F dues) that have an outsized control of the workers in the field. Another example: The Book of Decisions of the NMAPC Lots of binding decisions here – what does the reader think the percentage of favorable rulings for the R&F trades are?

Local unions R&F get worked over in every way possible by the Internationals, on members’ rights, strikes, negotiations, agreements shoved down their throats and especially when the Local is taken over by the International.

The General Presidents are the conduit of that control by management using a continually changing constitution and by-laws that restrict members and locals with each new version.

Some context – Starbucks alone has more RC Petitions (representation elections) than the entirety of the North American Building Trades since March of 2022. The R&F need to stop with our delusional thinking that our skills sanctified by the holy 14 define being in a union MOVEMENT with next to zero action in the streets! Skills are great – it is NOT activism whatsoever.

Workers in most sectors are getting up off the mats and becoming activists again – but not in the trades. We talk a good game, but our words are not backed up by any consistent effort that results in wins to raise market share and improve the 88% of building trades workers NOT in a union.

The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) allows members in one union to change unions. Per the NLRB, members have a right to be represented by a union of their choice. In organizing campaigns, Labor Rising has successfully led such campaigns at the NLRB, experience in this area directly.

If 30% of members sign cards asking for an election to determine who the R&F want to represent them to the NLRB, an election of all union members is held. Whichever union gets 50% plus one of the votes is declared the winner and the Local is then represented by that Local/International.

Since the internationals enforce the rules they craft, perhaps the R&F may want to align with a truly democratic union. Are the Teamsters perfect? Nope! However, they are night and day better in how they treat the R&F and locals. They go toe-to-toe with management when needed, not the trades!

Is it that easy? Kind of – how’s that for an answer? It depends on the status of membership. For example: Are the R&F under a 9a or 8f agreement? What is that? Look it up. Who owns the Hall and other assets of the Local. But if the membership feels that the time has come to go with a winner as their representative, the membership has a hard-core option.

Overwhelmingly the contractors are not going anywhere and may actually embrace a real union (Teamsters) that organizes anti/non-union contractors. And benefits can stay intact.

What would the Teamsters, with 2.4 million members (essentially winning over the R&F of the BT), look like when the Teamsters represent all of union construction? They could bring pressure to bear, a lot of it as a united craft as needed, on end-users, developers, CM’s, etc.

Labor Rising would prefer that equation vs. the laissez-faire status quo of always losing, which we in the trades have perfected for 5 plus decades. Labor Rising is confident that mergers of some crafts would be in order, while most crafts would keep their identity as a department in our opinion. Each of the trades would be part of the whole – called Teamsters!

Think of the consolidation in terms of eliminating all the wasteful spending x 14 unions. Getting rid of toxic layers of wannabee sycophants and the infighting among trades, all the while mentoring organizers to win! The R&F members would also be able to fight for the rights of all workers. No more talking about being activists but acting as true activists – the kind that our FOUNDERS would embrace!

Would such a consolidation be raiding? Even if doing so violates jurisdiction at the Building Trades level, bottom line question is: does the NLRB care? No sir! The R&F holds all the cards here. The R&F may need a little patience; however, but the NLRB will follow the will of the voters regarding who they want to represent them.

We in the Building Trades have deserved the kind of representatives we currently have, which is terrible in every MEASURABLE way – “NET”. We have done next to nothing to stop the continued erosion of the constitutions & by-laws. That in turn has led to management having far too much influence on the International Presidents and by extension the field R&F.

The NLRB allows the R&F to change that equation. However, we wouldn’t even need the NLRB if we used our own force of action to change the status quo as true R&F brothers & sisters!

Update, Labor Rising has been working with field members to understand that Work 2 Rule (WTR) is NOT a labor slowdown or a “wild cat” strike and getting them ready to implement WTR on PLA sites. Enlightened hands are fanning out all over North America from a tiny little job in the desert in the southwest. More on that in upcoming blogs, along with more on how members can reassign who represents them.

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

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

This entry was posted in Labor Rising and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.