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2014 – Cookie Cutter Culture –

“Culture eats strategy over breakfast,” said Peter Drucker, and it is only when you fully understand what this means, that you’ll lead a successful company (union).

So what chairs do all officers & members sit in? At union meetings, at executive board meetings, at fund meetings, at building trades meetings, at district council meetings – as an executive for the international!

I would bet my pension that 90% of us sit in the exact same place we have always sat in as leaders, both philosophically and literally.
So if we keep trying to apply worn & failed strategies to a fast moving, ever dynamic construction industry changes – is the outcome really any surprise?

An example of this is that with work picking up and the next round of jobs picking up thru-out the country – we continue to do the same old tired activities. Recruit non-union workers and give them union jobs right now. We feel & think they should thank their lucky stars we have granted them membership in our club/union. The numbers tell us that if they come, it is because overwhelmingly they are 2nd tier hands. When they money up and are eligible for Health & Welfare, they use it and in the next cycle of boom and bust of construction – take their enhanced skills back to the non-union along with some of our union members.

With 90% of the market share, the non-union is recruiting the Building Trades and not the other way around. This cycle is very definable now and is almost 20 years old.

The non-union worker values the membership in direct proportion to how we value it – it produces revenue to the international! There are many letters out there from the Internationals directing the IO’s to raise membership by any means. This isn’t brotherhood of workers – it is a commodity – case closed.

This is the “culture” of our market development. It isn’t earned any longer by serving an apprenticeship either formally or on the job. The non-union worker can set conditions on their terms and has no vested interest in the organization they join. Is it any wonder then, that the reps out there are having a difficult time even giving away a membership?

We sit in our exact same chairs with Labor-Management committees. Safety and training, selling ourselves with the false notion that we are winning, when every number out their everywhere says we are not – then finding the best restaurants in town and repeating the cycle endlessly.

We continue meeting with gate keepers, instead of decision makers of the major industries (CURT) – getting promised ever smaller percentages of the work – “net” in those markets. In the Gulf Coast for example – we have been presented with increased amounts of work higher than we have had in years. Perhaps as high as approximately 8% of all the upcoming work, when we have had approximately 2% of the work.

Sounds like a win – with the existing market share it is! If we could really organize and develop our market – it absolutely is a loss. A whole market and section of the country lost for many years to come. Even today I hear all the time, lets show them (CURT) what we can do? The Building Trades just does not see it is being dictated too – shut up and take this, or else! And by the way, go out and do the recruiting and massive amounts of training and “maybe” we’ll keep you around for a while.

Unions are trading labor peace on not only those jobs – but all facilities and infrastructure thru-out the area as well as other areas. CURT (construction Users Roundtable) will threaten us with loss of work if we try to organize other adjacent markets. They know we are desperate for revenue and members and won that negotiation big time – which may seal the faith of the future of the Building Trades. But the current politicians get a “check”!

So we are locked in all over the market development map and relegated to being CURTS punks, to go out and man and train the few jobs that in their benevolence they see fit to let us have.
If we do not finally take those chairs’/culture we are sitting in and smash them to smithereens, we will not have any chairs to sit in very soon.

“if you a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising

Cookie Cutter


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