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Being Ambushed and Unions Member’s Constitution –


The definition of ambush is: – “the act of waiting in a concealed position in order to launch a surprise attack”!

While the Building Trades Value on Display “may” have started in good faith and our research is chipping away that this statement, which may be in fact, not the case. The last 20 years have demonstrated that it is now an ambush of the values of the Building Trades MOVEMENT as an independent labor organization; to a temp agency with a pool of labor primarily serving at the discretion of management by our own Internationals as administrators!

Every number and trend overwhelmingly demonstrate this to be the case. Unprecedented levels of Labor-Management we pay for. The concessionary bargaining even in an era of worker shortages. The steady erosion of our CBA’s (Collective Bargaining Agreements) to PLA’s. Incomplete training of organizers and market reps to secure market share. Complete lack of lawful labor unrest endorsed by the Internationals. Substantial changes to our benefits programs and structure. Standards of Excellence inserted into most constitutions which will usurp local hiring rules and autonomy; and is a business HR document at its root. Using people of color and women to fill out the labor pool, with the lower wages and benefit levels of new classifications. Now when we need them, they still get the short end of the stick. Summarily and systematically benching skilled trades journeypersons with more than 15 years – unless work in an area is thru the roof.

Rank & File are in fact being ambushed and strong-armed by the “good ole boys”. The Internationals iron fist may be in a velvet glove lately, but make no mistake – the R&F is being taken into a realm of service to a corporate master for a price! The Internationals coffers get funded and senior officer’s wages continue to grow, companies have record profits and the R&F funds both of these, with decreasing amounts of do-re-mi/hours in their pockets!

There are new Internationals Presidents in most of the trades in the last couple of years; and not one is taking their respective organization back to being a MOVEMENT. In fact, the Labor-Management cooperation has never been more in evidence. The Boilermakers where the only International to have a contested general officer’s election at the convention, including their IP.

Knowing your constitution in your trade is an absolute must to return the Rank & File to prominence and having authority over elected leaders at all levels.

For those in the military, and as counter-intuitive as it may sound – when ambushed, attack the ambush!


So when members respond to our blogs that they have families to feed and are afraid to exert themselves for fear of their jobs – we say attack. It is NOT bravado – it is numbers. In most cases the hours of most of these members are diminishing, and the quality of balanced freedom and independence between L-M is gone. We are employees even to most of our own unions, much less the company.

The constitutions have been manipulated to serve managements agenda via our Internationals – case closed!

So how do we as trade unionists restore that MOVEMENT. On the union floor! Using the very structure of the constitution as it is. You may think this is crazy. Let’s see if it is?

First off, no single member should go into this fight by themselves. As we stated in the previous blogs, the disenfranchised membership in one form or another are the majority in most locals/DC. Patching that together requires that groups that may not have traditionally worked together to do so now. They don’t have to share any other value than one – good governance or even as a default, feeding your family and paying the bills. Both are acceptable. The above alone will freak out leadership. The CBA is mothers mike to all R&F outside of the “good ole boy’s club”. Without a strong and dynamic CBA your dead anyway – as when you run from an ambush. A slower more methodical death – but dead non-the-less!

Here’s the not so subtle nuance of the internationals changing and enforcing their brand of the constitution – that door swings both ways, and members have brutally effective rights on the floor of a union meeting if needed!

Understand the balance here. The DOL presumes that the will of the membership in the changes to the constitution to be valid. Think of what was just said please! Even though it is a stacked deck – presumed to be the will of…

Should the will of the members on the floor NOT reflect what happens at the convention, and done in enough locals, membership rights come into play and trump the constitution over time – which will then lead to constitutional changes. This will be a short time line should the R&F engage in enough locals/DC’s. And with coordinating social media – even quicker. Some of the ways the Internationals continue to control their power, is why we still have old fashion meetings in the age of technology, to limit the gatherings of the R&F. Why isn’t there any education on rules & procedures of the union membership? Why members get blacklisted and labeled so fiercely should they broach most existing power structures. Why social media will NOT be used thru-out the R&F by the Internationals. The R&F could use it against the power structure for good governance – say it isn’t so!

When members take to the floor and ask questions, hard questions. Fair questions. Sober questions. And enter the responses, or non-response along with documents and literature into the minutes – all hell will break loose on floors with the “good ole boy” networks. Motions being blocked and not entertained now have weight. To interfere with votes and outcomes has consequences that even the Internationals have to enforce. Watch what will happen when local/DC BM’s in this network are confronted legally with violating the rules of conduct – per the rules. Suppressing the democracy, they profess to uphold and cherish. International level officers will eat their own before they will give up power at the upper levels and those “good ole boys” BM will be on their own. Truly good BM will be just fine with this. The R&F have a different mission in those cases, to back that leader with the full force of the R&F so they can advance good governance at the DC and/or International level.

So for those of you still playing games on the internet – consider Googling your respective trades constitution and spend some time with it. Your career and pension depends on it. Also find the section of the constitution that pertains to Rules of Order and what format the international spells out for the local/DC. Most defer to Roberts Rules of Order once they state their rules. Roberts Rules even has different versions.

Look around you at this point, how many of your co-workers are seeking true governance – not head-hunting, not tit for tat, not politics – solid governance. Many locals/DC have jettison Local BM’s in the last 2 election cycles.

Next blog will outline what can be done on the floor once the workers understand just how formidable their power. Wielding it is for even minded, even tempered, fair and common-sense badass journeypersons.

“if you see a good fight – (time to) get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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