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When Will the GP’s Give Brother McGarvey a Winning Keynote?

Brother McGarvey today will have the unenviable task of delivering the National Building Trades keynote address in Washington DC.

Unenviable because for not only this year, but every year that Brother Sean has been the President of the Building and Construction Trades Department – he has had to spin market share losses.

Here is what he will be dealing with today:

This is the entire press release from the BT department earlier this year/2015.

“Membership in North America’s Building Trades Unions Continues to Climb

WASHINGTON, DC — Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows continued membership growth for North America’s Building Trades Unions.
In 2014, union membership in the construction industry increased by approximately 53,000.  Adding to the increase reported by BLS in 2013, the two-year growth of membership in building and construction trade unions in America now stands at 148,000.

Excluding residential construction and non-production/supervisory employees, the union construction industry is today approaching 40 percent density in the United States.

“The numbers released today by BLS,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, “are an affirmation of the collective efforts by our unions to re-position the union construction industry as a value-centric, preferred vendor-supplier of skilled craft construction labor services in the United States, and as a trusted community partner that is providing hope in the form of career training opportunities for many disadvantaged people, including and especially women, minorities and military veterans.”

Labor Rising’s commentary, let’s read between the lines of what isn’t said.

  • “are an affirmation” –  Really!  Nowhere is he claiming that market share and/or density has grown in the last year or two, or over any time period in the last 20 years! There are not any numbers anywhere that make this statement true without spin; including the Building Trades own – Construction Chart Book, 5th Edition.

For the record, market share has consistently fallen – “NET” – for over 2 decades.  And density – the more important number – has collapsed, and yes collapsed is the right term here; for the same period!  Yet construction spending has been at, or exceeding all-time highs, and is forecasted to continue to climb. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau “Value of Construction Put in Place Survey” through November 2014, the spending has been 974,976,000,000 dollars or close to 1 Trillion Dollars.

Perspective is interesting here because while the statement of “approaching 40 percent” excluding residential and service sounds wonderful. All the numbers and trend lines over time say that with the continued use of Value on Display as a “strategy”, the chances are much greater that we will see 25% to 30% density long before we see 40% or more. Keep in mind that there are very few signatory contractors that make up this segment of the market share, and losing even 1 or 2, can alter market share sharply in an area! We are getting pounded on in total market share and density – net – on both sides of the border, now for over 20 years – FACT!

Contrast the Building Trades News releases with the un-filtered numbers.  Vox also ran a more detailed piece from the same sources.

Union membership in 2014 is half of what it was 30 years ago

The share of workers who are union members slipped again last year to the lowest share since 1983 — the earliest year the Labor Department has available.

Dear General President’s, go to just 1 anti-union seminar on union avoidance and you’ll see firsthand that our collaboration with big construction & CURT correlates strongly to loss of market share over the last 2 decades, especially from 2002 till today. The non/anti-union forces have the Organizers/Market Development Reps in their offices providing every manner of information which benefits them, and renders us impotent to raise market share – “NET”. We hand over the results of our hard work regarding our safety & training advances. The non/anti-union hold us close so that RECOGNITION is always in play and tremendously limits any actions we can take with the contractor, virtually eliminating any secondary activities with General Contractors, Construction Mangers, End-Users & all their customers! They also can then anticipate our future moves and curtail and prolong the outcome, which overwhelmingly favors them. Value on Display puts and keeps Organizers/Reps in a box, either the NLRB and/or business development box, or both. These numbers are very ascertainable and measurable – if numbers are what we are all about.

Labor Rising’s strategy is to build Compression Zone(s) from real market data. To target the GC, CM, End-User and customers and NOT just the contractor, and eliminate most, if not all recognition and secondary claims. Value on Display has a place as a tool, consistent with what the market research says.

The main difference between Value on Display and Compression Zone market development is that VOD starts with “talking to everyone” and Labor Rising emphasis – a fully developed written strategy as to why a union wants to talk/sell to any given player in the market. Without that – we should strongly curtail talking/selling to everyone.

Of the 276 unions trained to date, 81 have fully developed their respective Compression Zone(s) and would have a say, and play a role in that 53,000 number stated above. Many other unions are working to develop their markets and go on offense! Time to win with 21st Century tactics, and not just accept the status quo of a poor strategy.

Also will this year be the year that the Keynote mentions the word “Organizing” even once – because that word has not been mentioned even once, in the past 2 years during the Keynote?

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group


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