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May Day – International Workers’ Day – May 1st –

This picture does a great job portraying the historical progress of the Labor Movement, nearly all achievements on the list are more than 50 years ago. Frederick Douglass had it right then and today, if only senior leadership would heed his words. For a perspective of the state of labor today, consider the following:

  • Labor, and more specifically the Trades, haven’t advanced the interest of workers for many decades – simply showing up for work is not enough – training isn’t and has never been the cornerstone, much less a building block, of why the middle class was established
  • The Trades founders dealt with “NEED TO HAVE” values of raising families, dignity in retirement, solid health care and conditions that don’t kill you protected by a CBA – NOT “nice to have” values like training! NEVER did the Founders cite being COMPETETIVE with wave after wave of non-union or immigrants as a reason to LOSE! If you think immigration is bad today, try a US population of approximately 75 million in 1900 compared to 92 million in 1910. Ten years and an increase of 21%. Now that’s not a wave – that’s a tsunami and our founders organized thru that and the greed in their day that makes today rather tame! Want more? Blacklisted, beaten, maybe killed, not only zero political help but laws stacked against them, Pinkertons and bought juries! We are a joke and our International Presidents, have zero business even citing the founders thinking we are even remotely alike! One set of leaders risked all – the current politicians haven’t missed a check and risk nothing! So…
  • We have COASTED for decades on the shoulders of giants – our founders
  • Bad a** shirts and stickers can’t do a damn thing to advance workers issues
  • The Trades specifically prohibited any form of communist/fascist from membership in the Trades then and now. Read your Constitution – it is right up front. So, when you read a Facebook post on either word linked to unions, those comments are a special kind of stupid. The first thing a fascist/communist regime does is rule unions illegal and replace them with leaders they want, and who will do their bidding – slave labor
  • When I was the moderator for the rededication of the Haymarket Monument several years ago, Anarchists showed up to disrupt the program. They soon learned that unions would not tolerate their actions
  • For over a decade, my apprentices took care of the Haymarket Monument, and those of approximately 30 other labor leaders in the “outlaw” cemetery called Waldheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park, IL

The Building Trades leadership has indeed “sold out” the membership. Value on Display and those who advance it are NOT leaders – only pawns to management and business. Continuous and ongoing concessions and capitulations mark VOD as the loser it is and those that continue to advance it!

But, the spirit of the Trades will be re-born. With 90% of the workers in the Trades non-union, there is a better than even chance that rebirth will happen OUTSIDE of the existing BT framework. The closest mass event within the framework of the Trades was the R&F grassroots effort in the NYC Building Trades, until it was usurped by “leadership” of NYCBT. What city or state R&F have the passion to serve something greater than themselves?

History has a lot to teach us about the roots of our past. When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day, and when we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend, and when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beaten down by the police and company thugs, then we can understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted — yet our senior leaders do! Workers fought for those rights and dignities. The sacrifices of so many workers then are mere punch lines for senior leadership of today! For too long now, the Trades have not been a MOVEMENT of all workers’ rights. Capital “V” for the value of being the underpinnings of the middle class? No, we are nothing more than a small “v” for the value of training we provide as a temp organization. We have our fingerprints on why the class of the working poor are emerging! Our current senior leaders don’t fight – they roll over!

Senior leaders have put the Building Trades in a position to refight all the hard-fought battles! They are at the tail end of the benefits won by the founders MOVEMENT of workers. Not the workers mind you, the senior leaders only. EVERY Trades worker has taken one or more cuts to wages, benefits, conditions, classifications, ratios, pensions cuts, diminished work and more with the advent of Value on Display. It is on the R&F backs only. Not a single cut to International pay and pensions.

Management isn’t “throttling” the R&F voices nearly as much as our own senior leaders of our own Internationals. We are so far away from being a free and independent Trades union that our own founders would side with R&F hands down – if they were present to do so today!

Words stronger than any I could write are engraved on the Haymarket Monument:



Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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