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Saying That We Are Winning Doesn’t Make It So –


69th Constitutional Convention of North America’s Building Trades Unions –

Congratulations to Brothers Sean McGarvey and Brent Booker on their re-election.

In the Keynote that opened the convention, what was said, and as importantly not said, was quite interesting.

Here is a direct link to the entire Keynote (KN) so the Rank & File can read it for themselves and see if Labor Rising’s (LR) critique is fair or not as we quote and respond to parts of the Keynote:

KN – “Whenever and wherever we gather as representatives of our great institutions, we do so united by a noble mission and a common purpose.”

LR – So being a BRAND is a noble pursuit? Our Founders might disagree, as they founded a MOVEMENT.

KN – “All of us would be derelict in our duties as leaders, if we did not pursue a strategy of direct engagement and partnership with those corporations and industries that are leading the way in capital construction investments and job creation.”

LR – Disagree. Value on Display was brought forward in good faith. It has now been our go-to strategy for 15+ years through all economic conditions and administrations. Our market share has and continues to trend downward. There wasn’t any issue with trying it – the issue is staying with a failed strategy that management uses to transfer the skilled labor and union contractors to the non-union. From labor trafficking, labor brokers, skilled trades recruitment, temp agencies, 1099’s, illegal workers, bid shopping, legislation and more, the route is on unless we change and change hard!

From the Building Trades’ news release: “In 2014, union membership in the construction industry increased by approximately 53,000.  Adding to the increase reported by BLS in 2013, the two-year growth of membership in building and construction trade unions in America now stands at 148,000.”

LR – The 148,000 new union Building Trades members put in context of total jobs created in construction during those 2 years represent a continued loss of market share.

KN – “Specifically, I am talking about the oil and gas industry, the petro-chemical industry, the power generation industry, and the nuclear industry, just to name a few.”

KN – “So far in 2015 alone, roughly $164 billion dollars’ worth of work has come through the door of the Building Trades’ national office under our GPA agreement, the National Construction Agreement, and assorted Project Labor Agreements.”

LR – Compare that to the fact that through June of 2015, total construction was $1,064,594,000,000 or over $1 trillion and since June it has risen another 2.2% and will challenge the all-time record of $1.2 trillion in March of 2006. Also note that the $164 billion represents both the U.S. and Canada.

LR – Approx. $700 billion of the over $1 trillion is non-residential in the U.S. alone. Also if we take out the Gulf Coast Region and the biggest job in North America, which is in British Columbia Canada, we are looking at an entirely different number. All our eggs are in very few baskets, with union workers perpetually on the road, when there are numerous jobs back home, “if” they were only union!

KN – “Right now, Taft-Hartley pension funds invest roughly a HALF TRILLION DOLLARS — and less than 3% of that is invested in these types of job creating funds.”

LR – Agreed. However, this is emblematic of the inability of the Building Trades to take coordinated actions with investments or even politics in the 21st Century. I knew Brother Bill Patterson and helped him on a voluntary basis when he was put in charge of the Capital Stewardship program of the AFL-CIO over a decade ago, to do exactly this as well as vote the proxies of the unions. Bill was a structured and dedicated person to run this office, and was an excellent choice. He had nearly zero cooperation between the trades and a Pandora’s Box of “why we can’t and shouldn’t” all stemming from pension trustees who were paralyzed to move because of the Prudent Expert law surrounding pensions and the threats of being sued.

KN – “A priority for all of us in this room here this week should be doing all that we can to dramatically increase the percentage of investments in proven, job-creating investment vehicles, such as the Housing Investment Trust, the Building Investment Trust, ULLICO’s J for Jobs Fund, and the Multi-Employer Property Trust, among others.”

LR – Agreed! Pension Funds well within their guidelines can up their asset allocations responsibly in this area. And while we are on this topic, the Building Trades should have their own legal Construction Management Company to both run these jobs and bid jobs with our union contractors in areas and states in the country where we literally DO NOT have any presence. Revisit this link with the complete plan to do just that:!5450&authkey=!AELhrGSEcIKc0Y8&ithint=file%2cdocx    

LR – Walk Washington, DC and you’ll see job after non-union job. And in New York consider this article in Politico and many other articles like it, “…spending on construction in New York City is on track this year, 2014, to surpass $32 billion for the first time in history, driven in large part by a residential building boom, according to a report released Thursday morning by an industry trade group. The report, a three-year forecast produced by the New York Building Congress, projects that total spending will continue to rise to $35.3 billion in 2015 and $35.6 billion in 2016. This year is forecast to end at a record $32.9 billion in total development activity, a 17% increase from the previous peak in 2007, the report said.”

LR – Construction Managers are wiping out union jobs to the point that New York is, in most experts’ opinions and numbers, more a non-union than union city. This template will be coming to a union city near you soon, if it’s not already there!

KN – “Ours is a proven business model that is addressing some of the core problems that lie at the heart of income inequality across North America.”

LR – As respectfully as we can say it, Brother International Presidents and President of the Building Trades, there isn’t any number anywhere, over any appreciable measuring period and in every type of economic condition, that says this is so! Adding the word “new” to our strategy doesn’t make it so. The difference of the Ayers/McGarvey and McGarvey/Booker Value on Display strategies are paper thin since 2006. Not only are we getting our butts kicked with Value on Display as our go-to strategy, it is used by CURT and other groups to defeat us! The numbers correlate thru the roof that the more we unilaterally collaborate with end-users, construction managers and general contractors, the more market we cede!  Labor Rising has extended any number of invitations to senior officers to view the program and structure along with data that led to it. We have woven together the matrix of all the interconnected parties and looked at what is now a very predictable outcome. Eight concentrated years in operation, 603 individual Organizers/Agents trained from 276 unions along with their markets present the nucleus of confirmation.

KN – “Those entities that succeed politically today, understand that politics is, always has been, and always will be about business.”

LR – Our respective countries’ entire histories, and those of all developed countries in the world, say exactly the opposite! A strong labor MOVEMENT is critical to balance capital. Because of our long tenured strategies of Value on Display, we have neither the votes (membership), money (dues) nor social infrastructure to have a meaningful voice with politicians. We get table scraps because we are weak due to low and diminishing market share – case closed! We are mostly irrelevant to generations Y & Z, with no meaningful structured social connections with like-thinking groups, communities, showing our apprenticeship via You Tubes etc., owning workers initiatives and legislation with Facebook & Twitter and more. We don’t know squat about controlling hiring and the laws in that realm and grounding our market development in real time research along with Opposition Research for those anti-union entities we compete with!

LR – Many labor unions are stepping up to the fight ahead with respect to the inequities in our respective countries – the operative word here is fighting, not paying lip service – fighting those entrenched money interests for a viable middle class. What are we doing? We are collaborating at our own demise with the very entities that work to destroy unions. We can change in a heart-beat if we have the will and ATTITUDE to do it, should our 14 IP’s choose to do so! The Rank & File have your back!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising Group

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