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Specific Strategies & Tactics for the Building Trades to Win – Part 1 –

For those in the trades who feel the trades are marked for death in our lifetimes – you are right “IF” we continue with the tool of Value on Display.

That is correct, VOD is a tool – nothing more. So, it begs the question of what the trades’ master strategy and tactics are, which are needed to win market share; and to again become champions of workers’ union or not – to be a MOVEMENT!

The next several blogs are for organizers, activists and officers tired of losing. The blogs will be detailed, and some may be long. We are way past the one-line solutions and pandering to those who want to be victims, blaming everyone but ourselves for almost entirely self-inflicted wounds.

We are not the Breslin-style BS or the pie in the sky trades labor academy with talking heads. Both have had their “day in court” and continue to lose.

Labor Rising/Labor Combat are in the trenches, with a plan built for the diverse environments from Alabama to New England to Phoenix to Calgary. With approx. 258 unions and nearly 670 organizers and officers trained in the US and Canada we know what is going on out there.

Since 2012, and built on nearly 5 years of research starting in 2007 – all of Labor Rising / Labor Combats’ blogs on strategy & tactics have been precise in that we always start with the clients’ credit and social footprint (perception) of those entities which are the money/decision makers in construction!

Typically, we do not care whatsoever about the contractor performing the work. There are some very specific exceptions; however, they are carefully crafted exceptions incorporated into the strategy.

Yes, you heard that correctly. The contractor and subcontractor are all put in place by private end-users, public bodies, developers and those that execute those decisions the bundled & unbundled Construction Managers & GC’s.

Think of an hourglass. All the sand flows thru this pinch point. Close that pinch point and zero sand flows through it. Now replace the word sand with money/profits/business opportunities. By closing and/or severely reducing the flowing sand/money – outcomes can be changed along with markets!

At the top of the hourglass is the entirety of all those that need the trades services including new construction, maintenance, service, residential, etc. How in the heck do the organizers, now called business development people, exist in that environment? They can’t, VOD thinks they can and in doing so open a minefield of other issues to understand, such as competitive numbers, consolidation of companies, contraction of hours lost to improving advances in construction delivery and roll-ups of local, regional and national players into mega companies. We will deal with those issues as we proceed in upcoming blogs.

At the bottom of the hourglass are all the subs and contractors providing services. This is another minefield. Huge numbers come and go. Others have limited financial credit worthiness – so who finances them? Many are subsets of fabricators and installers of specific systems. How do they get the work they do? So many more real questions that even a veteran organizer and/or market rep is unable to answer them using VOD in a market-wide setting. They are hugely under-trained by the design of VOD. A market can be work-specific, regional or national in scope. There are many other need-to-know specifics to even have a chance to effectively organize both company and workers. The current VOD method of selling entirely misses all of this. On top of VOD missing the mark almost all organizers and market reps do massive amounts of record-keeping (mostly subjective in nature) to satisfy a handful of administrators leaving them literally next to zero time to be effective in the field.

So, most internationals develop a list that goes to the local/DC organizers/market rep that quickly is outdated, and generally incomplete. It is from that list that they try to sell to non and even anti-union contractors! For example, they call 20 non/anti-union contractors and try to sit with as many as they can. And they continue to repeat this for approx. 20 years. This is the tool of VOD. A loser! All of this will be dissected in upcoming blogs in specific detail.

In the pinch point of the hourglass is the group that have a date-specific need, such as building a road or a new warehouse or office building. In the pinch point is the developer who can’t work in vacuum and has numerous vulnerabilities both in being the developer of record and then moving the project forward. Inside that pinch point is the CM and GC.

All of those in the pinch point, whether in a local, regional or even national market, can be distilled down to numbers we in the trades can deal with. For example, downtown Atlanta has a fixed number of CM’s in commercial buildings in a given dollar range. I don’t care how many CLIENTS may want the building and really don’t care how many subs and contractors they will play against each other to get it done; we know the money players! Who makes the decisions!

We want to SHAPE that business decision of MARKETS and not 1 off sub-contractors buried somewhere deep in the bid. To date, the VOD method is to talk the players to death, try to sell them, beg, capitulate on work rules, wages, benefits, conditions and generally roll over in any way necessary to get the work. And every number – get that statement – every number shows that even with all the capitulations and concessions in back-to-back to back record years of construction spending, VOD is a total loser to the R&F member, market share & density of the trades! May be a winner for the temp agency the 14 Internationals Presidents are running – but a loser none the less and not sustainable!

In the upcoming blogs we will develop the why of the “pinch point” and how the trades win.

To win in the pinch point – an organizer/MR needs to know Excel and other Microsoft tools along with Cloud sharing, developed knowledge of 6 figure SIC codes along with NAICS codes.  Information analysis and credit reports approx. 200 to 400 hours’ worth. Opposition research. Developing a Venn diagram to see where a strategy lies. Understanding Sections 7 & 8 in organizing. You will avoid most if not all of them organizing OUR way. Translation is we don’t use the NLRB to do our work as organizers. Understanding what Cyber-organizing is and how to use it. Use of cheap yet effective communication platforms for different purposes. Controlling the hiring by the non and especially the anti-union contractors in an area – which they will hate you for. And most of all understanding exactly where to start – not in theory but in hard contractors’ names in given sectors. BUILDING A COMPRESSION ZONE!

Do the above and a few more not yet listed; which Labor Rising will explain in the upcoming blogs. Then and only then can we blend in the TOOL of VOD where it can be specifically shown to be useful, and you have the beginning of a master strategy and the tactics needed to win.

Take care and PART 2 in a week.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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