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A Wild Card –

Wild Card

Labor Rising/Labor Combat wasn’t supposed to be around this long. We should have been discredited years ago. However, we did our homework correctly and knew there are BM’s and Building Trades leaders who remain true Unionist! Wild Cards in a broken system.

Labor Rising/Labor Combat group are also a Wild Card the Building Trades Internationals did not see coming. A completely independent set of organizers backed up with more research of the combined trades, and now close to 5 years of direct field training and observation.

Observing approx. 370 locals/DC/BT with nearly 650 total participants; which is a solid number, has lead us to the following beliefs:

Most of the Internationals at the highest level maintain what we believe is a “covenant” with the corresponding senior most leadership of construction and end-users.

That “covenant” maintains key provisions we believe is dictated by management. LR believes and research backs up that the use of labor unrest tops the list. Useless bottom-up organizing is tolerated. Top-down/Breslin style market development is also tolerated. But formulized aggressive structured organizing training (including labor unrest) endorsed by the International is not. It is followed by cost of labor and conditions, which needs to be lower. Training and maintaining a pool of workers/employees/members for discretionary use by management. Finally, and as importantly are the pension funds that are insolvent! Management is mandating that only a defined contribution is acceptable. Internationals will comply. Nearly 1 million Multi-Employer participants are screwed, unless we get a Hail Mary from Congress. Here are some links to consider:

Critical, Endangered and WRERA Status Notices from Department of Labor –

Failing that, the Building Trades can be legal Construction Managers – it was done 26 years ago. This IS NOT acceptable what so ever to the world of construction. And yet with 11% of the work we hesitate and defer to managements insistence and threats. Couple that with an OCIP and CCIP insurance program and we can be a dominate force in construction delivery.

As a Wild Card that has inserted itself into the role of organizer and market development with the numbers listed above that we have trained. It is clear to us that what isn’t provided in training to those charged with growing market share appears to be by design. The Organizers/Market Reps are NOT the issue/problem; it is the complete lack of training necessary to win in the 21st century. Over 90% of those we have trained have no working knowledge of what tactics and strategies are available to them to win!

Take market development for example. Being taught SIC/NAICS codes and what they are and how to use them. Even “IF” the Internationals have ceased most 21st century labor unrest and creating uncertainty by targeting the clients, credit and social footprint of end-users, developers, construction managers, etc.

Why aren’t Market Reps with a professional designation on their cards taught this by the Internationals and Building Trades Academy? Working use and structure, not glossed over in a sentence.

It is clear why – organizer’s and even market development officers – once they saw the inner working of a market would know “first hand” the level of BS and inner working of a market, and be able to start to formulate a plan. They wouldn’t be used, as we believe they are now. The call 20 companies and get meetings with xxx number of companies – is a total failure and management couldn’t be happier. The Value on Display approach is tolerated by the world of construction, because they control the outcome. Add the passion of a unionist to the above equation and organizing and market development would look very different than it does now. And the end-users, dev, cm would be furious.

This and a whole host of structured training is absent across the entire universe of the Building Trades. The few areas that do have game, are self-taught and typically short lived. We see market reps again being organizers once they leave this program and training; only to have nearly 2 dozen that we know of, told to do the same old BS or hit the bricks. Everyone has hit the bricks rather than continue to lose!

So if the very senior leaders of the BT had a hidden agenda – undermining training would be a high priority. Or in lieu of that, doing what doesn’t work and being dysfunctional; and spinning the heck out of it, which would be acceptable to management.

“IF” they, the INTERNATIONAL really taught a well-rounded program with the intent to win, locals and district councils would hold the power and NOT the International. Right now it’s all finger pointing by design; and that leaves a vacuum that management can exploit and go directly to the Internationals for relief. Internationals more and more fund their training and marketing from these agreements. Also we wouldn’t have uncontested conventions – energy and passion would drive those that win to the leadership positions. We would have debates and choices that are accountable to the R&F, not business!

Funding, or rather lack of funding would be a high priority in which to scuttle. Most Internationals have funding of market development. However, with much of that funding being used in paper work, meetings and accountability of market reps. Do some math. Total that time up, and when do most of these org/MR have the physical time to do their mission. Most travel can be eliminated with use of 21st century technology, like tele-conferencing and platforms like Go-2-Meeting. The org/MR could share info via cloud based technology and coordinate far more effective regional and national strategies. This is not taught and/or mandated by the Internationals. Probably not?

Opposition Research vs the minimal, if any research done now. You’re an org/MR and you get the use of a very unfriendly platform called Lexus-Nexus which is very narrow in its abilities and next to zero training in those that attended experience. You may also get mountains of paper work about a given unscrupulous contractor that is next too useless and you’re not taught to use anyway. Credit reports and their use and training of the various types is a joke. Where are the training videos on how to use even these very limited tools? If an International was going to limit an org/MR in doing an effective job, limited training and access to real hard core research would help accomplish that.

No training in hiring, business math, connecting the membership in an effective communications platform. Real professional development in presentation skills and business protocols – non-existent. Proper training in labor law and the practical understanding of Recognition and Secondary activity, surface and introductory too non-existent, which puts us in an endless loop. Sound familiar!

We have trained all crafts in all areas of the US and even now some in Canada and the complete lack of competent training leads us at LR to believe it is not coincidence.

What org/MR do, is recruiting – which isn’t even salting or peppering in the majority of cases. Most believe/told/led to believe that if you control the workers – you can control the market. So the trades get org/MR believing that they can increase the market from 11% to 100% only controlling the workers. So 1099’s, H-2B visas, temporary workers, legal and illegal immigrants, and workers being played against each other mitigate against that being realistic without heavy doses of legal labor unrest; and signing new contractors regardless if they want too or not!

Our Founders practiced part of the above philosophy. However, they primarily practiced controlling the means of production with huge amounts of labor unrest, which when working together with controlling labor supply can move markets. In the US and Canada there are approx. half a dozen markets that can absorb increased man-power. The rest keep Rank & File journeypersons on the bench in favor of lower paid workers and classifications being used to get labor costs in-line with management demands along with critically low market share.

Those markets may want to look to Western Canada who thought they had jobs locked up for many years to come. Now they are dealing with massive unemployment and most trades are signing on to forced agreements, shoved down their throats by guess who. Not even given a chance to fight and then they would have to know how to fight! Have to have a detailed plan and training to enact that kind of strategy.

In the US, we are losing ground in every industrial market, and even in the Gulf Coast – few of our contractors have made inroads to establish themselves in these markets these past 4/5 years. We get 3% to 9% of the work and that number will likely erode before it goes up. We are literally training our replacements and they will be used against us, and soon!

The trades, because of 11% of total construction work just doesn’t have the jobs, day in and out for workers to raise their families. We are in a transitional period now of training fairly significant numbers of non-union workers recruited and then losing them and significant journeypersons to reverse recruitment to the non-union. Retention is what it is called. So while the trades try to raise a “POOL” of workers and trade labor unrest for a non-existent floor of work from management – the sand continuously shifts beneath our collective feet because we think we can deal with management in what is now a price driven service. Talk about a “rock and a hard place”. However, with 11% of the work, what in the hell can they threaten us with. And a managed structured strategy of who we work with and who we do not, will pay dividends in the form of market increases and non-union worker respect.

So org/MR run around doing all sorts of activities in what by the numbers is 90% in-effective. In Labor Rising opinion and research indicates it is by design. The International can change this. However – time is gone and that change has to be embraced by the 14 – 60 insiders! That and buckle up because time for fluff organizing and market developed is going to be serious and effective.

That or a new Building Trades will emerge. Take those insolvent pension participants, viral unions springing up, disenfranchised union workers that are un or under-employed, newer generations being connected to social entities, persistent sentiments that our leaders no longer represent the R&F, people of color, women and veterans realizing they get the newly created, lower paying union classifications much of the time; and the non-union sentiments because of our lack of being a Movement; and the stage is set for a NEW Building Trades!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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