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Will COVID–19 Sound the Death Knell for Value on Display –

Surviving COVID-19 is going to require a plan for the trades to continue to exist much less grow. Prior to this pandemic, the big construction users were very close to consolidating their business models into specialty contractors and vendors. If anyone in senior leadership down to the apprenticeship doesn’t think that coming out of COVID-19 will be the construction users’ way or the highway for the trades in particular — snap out of it! Labor Rising can think of hundreds of millions of lost profits why that will be the case! A fancy acronym, a brand or a snazzy Power Point by the trades is not going to cut it – a real nuts and bolts written plan can. Think of the North America style of business dating back during the Industrial Revolution, and now apply it going forward! Workers are expendable – NOT essential.

At a minimum, an effective written plan would include:

  • Aspirations – aka mission statement – we in the trades are good at this! But what we suck at is:
  • Core Values
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats
  • Objectives (past the obvious), strategies (written & flexible) and operational tactics
  • Measurements & timelines to re-evaluate (minus egos) and funding

However, before we can execute a written plan, we need to be able to:

  • Do real and in-depth research. True Organizers are at their core researchers! Some, internationals are capable of research. However, the sheer number of requests, along with the quality of the requests, are time wasters to the highest degree. Also, many internationals are limited by the vendors that they use. The type of info and quality matters to the degree to which we can be effective.

Ms. Jennifer Cave of Rochester Research Association (RRA) has given me permission to share her/our first-generation links to these research videos. Consider them Research 101, as they provide 2 ½ hours of solid, basic info we have historically shared only in Labor Rising training. Upcoming times in workers’ lives are looming to be particularly challenging, so thank you Ms. Jenn! Also attached is a template of what RRA searches. This is a proprietary document. However, it is now expanded and updated in many ways so RRA will let us share an older version with organizers and agents. The completed research comes to you in a well-formatted document, with highlights of items of interest to the Building Trades. At Labor Rising, we have zero financial interest of any type in RRA. We use them because they are best in class! Fees for research vary. But consider a journeyperson’s package per hour and know that it comes down to how in depth the union wants the research to be. RRA knows how to search the deep/dark web. And, by the way, if you don’t know the difference between that and a simple Google search – then learn. They also can build an Opposition Website and have far more capabilities.

Rochester Research Associates # 585-471-6056   Website – Ms. Jenn Cave – President

Intro to Rochester Research via Labor Rising –!AmKOi71GyLcgq1akY0LFWV-04vmI?e=TYziwK

NOTE: may take a bit to download.

  1. Part 1.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm5vfKnYL54OVKUw?e=MVDkyv
  2. Part 2.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm18mice3bKELcBU?e=hFLkJa
  3. Part 3.!AmKOi71GyLcgqmvssIASJ68cJ7Ni?e=WySlMa
  4. Part 4.!AmKOi71GyLcgqm8DfJPmBWDzbgoc?e=cv79WL
  5. Part 5.!AmKOi71GyLcgqmzN04eeM7Z9Rpkt?e=ZTJ357
  6. Research Template –!AmKOi71GyLcgnBsIaJK0z36D27iD?e=jzbOEW


  • You also need to be able to work in Excel, we know from experience that 85% or more of existing organizers don’t know how to use Excel as an organizing tool. Here is an old link of a BT union on Excel to practice on:!AmKOi71GyLcg3GqIVslwrNY4SWSm?e=oDblNQ Download it as a start. Now can you sort by column (as long as your spreadsheet is formatted that way) the respective revenues of companies in order to plot them on a revenue scatter chart. How do we build respective charts, graphs, etc. in Excel? Can you select the cell or range of cells that you want to format? Can you share the document and when changes are made by another organizer flag yours to reflect that change? Can you add articles, media, documents etc.? There is so many more valuable capabilities available with this research data. For those of you who know how to use it appropriately – teach the others. For those that can’t – learn!

Hopefully – organizers and agents understand what is being asked. If not, then go back to school in concentrated doses. We were all apprentices at one time or another – be open to learning again, and not just a couple of hours a week for 4 months. NOW is the time because we have the time! So, if the international can’t connect with you at home or in the office or wherever you may be working these days, and if they don’t offer you a genuine expert to teach you how to handle this necessary data via Excel and other software – we are going nowhere.

For those who have a mission-driven BM/DC officer, go to It is the site most LR organizers use to improve their skills. Don’t bother scrolling for info after a few minutes. Go to the research bar and ask how to do Excel formatting 101. Excel alone has approximately 17,000 entries last time I checked. Call customer service and they can help you help yourself. Get a computer training center trainer to come in and teach you and your group in concentrated doses. DO IT! You don’t need to be an expert, just a solid journeyperson in moving and manipulating data.

  • Go 2 Meeting, Skype for business, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. You’ve got to know how to use these apps for many reasons, and COVID-19 is as good as any. These apps offer person-to-person connection for organizers, salts, peppers, activists and workers (both union and non-union) via technology. Blend this platform and Excel together for in-house meetings to transfer info and lock down on a strategies and tactics in real time with minimal communication errors. Think Navajo Code Talkers – the info is in a timely and hard-hitting format to deliver on organizing with NO HOLES!

This is where cyber-organizing wins. This is not a fancy name, but rather a real ability to connect to the non-union. You need this type of platform and the skill to use it. You need a mass texting platform. You need cell numbers of the non-union workers. Be honest – are you still using a yellow lined note pad to track and answer the questions of scores of unorganized workers? For pennies on the dollar you can use a platform like these to communicate with non-union workers to provide education and conduct organizing drives. Use these platforms to send out every type of info you otherwise hand out in small numbers. You can do one-on-ones with non-union workers once they have sufficient info and have developed interest. The platforms can be used in many ways. For example, who cares if management gets in and listens? Everything we SHOULD be saying is legal and it is documented. Establish options in the communications platform to be a one-way system where those on-line can only hear you. Have participants type questions so no one has to speak. Spouses and workers can both get the info they need. It can be done in multiple languages. Learn my Brothers & Sisters.

Most importantly, when a connection and underlying trust is established with a worker and family, get ALL the info you can on business practices including ALL the parties up and down the business line. Do not fall for “I don’t know” and weasel words. Fill in the business puzzle! We can’t just organize workers – WE HAVE TOO TAKE THE COMPANY ALSO! Or – put them down.

Bottom line, we can’t be on the sidelines any longer during and after COVID-19 – not if you are in the trades. From all Collective Bargaining issues through pensions, life is going to change baby! Is it going to change for the better, which is going to be a fight? Or are the trades going to think the BS status quo of Value on Display is our play?  If anyone up and down the ranks think that “they need us” (The Building Trades) snap the hell out of it!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

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