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Labor: Brand or Movement Labor College labor college

For nearly 2 decades now we have heard that the Building Trades affiliates have to re-brand themselves. We have all adopted the strategy to sell the Building Trades like a Harley to its customers.

And the more we sell ourselves using a business model, the more market share we lose. The numbers are crystal clear and overwhelming on this point. If you add the collective underfunding of our pensions since the passage of the Pension Protection Act (and other recently passed versions) then the prospects of selling ourselves dwindles down to near zero using a top-down organizing as a “strategy”. This is confirmed when I have directly spoke more than 50 local & state building trades councils in many states. I always ask several questions, one of which is who has signed a full CBA on a top-down basics in the last 2 years? Out of 10 to 60 brothers & sisters attending from all crafts; if I get one or two who have signed a full CBA that is allot. I also ask follow-up questions to see if the respective participants have ever had success signing contractors using top down as a primary method of organizing. The craft members freely admit that when they did sign contractor’s using this method that it wasn’t enough to raise market share. This is consistent and independently confirms the LaborCombat research that top-down is not a “strategy”, but a tool to be used within a strategy.                                                                                                labor college

Labor is not a product brand. Labor is a movement responsible for the entire working class in America. We do not have customers, we have employers! Do we really do customer service, or are we best in class workers, working 8/8 and doing our jobs in many diverse and difficult environments? We collectively have forgotten that a CBA is about “labor peace”. In our capitalist system, labors role is so much more than a product. Without any drama – how union labor goes, so will America. Only labor can stand up to the “junk yard dogs” called corporate charters whose only mission is absolute profits! If America is to continue as a great society, then workers – union or not are going to have to fight for their rights to a living wage & benefits! That fight is better over a table in the form of a CBA, instead of in the streets. Getting any company to recognize our rights to a piece of the pie has historically taken action and not words.                                                                                                      labor college

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

Particularly during the last decade, numerous speeches, discussions and initiatives have been launched addressing what a contractor wants. The answer has been in various forms but reflects similar themes: attitude, training, committed and sober workers, safety, etc. Not once have I ever seen labor peace mentioned as what a contractor wants. This is interesting because the vehicle we use today to address aligning the contractors’ wants with their labor force is a CBA, which was exclusively developed as an instrument to provide labor peace.  labor college

Most, if not all, current contracts and International agreements contain specific language related to work stoppages, grievances, strikes, etc., being precluded from taking place on their respective jobs. Any other mention of value added items, i.e., training, safety, committed and sober workers, etc., are subsets of the primary contract. The primary CBA trades labor peace for union jobs, for a specific time. Considering all the give backs, and recognizing poor past practices, the contractors have clearly gotten the better deal by any measure. union organizing

Labor is essentially impotent to press for any improvements because of its overall poor market share. A CBA is much more about labor peace on a job and only exists, by and large, because of our forefathers’ legacy to advance labor rights, which in today’s business culture is not even acknowledged.

Time to get back to “Standing for America” as IBEW General President Hill states!   Union organizing!

We all have a job to do, and talking a good game, has never been an effective route to increased market share.                                                                 union organizing

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity,

Danny L Caliendo

Senior Organizer/Founder

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