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“Any fool can make a rule – And any fool will mind it.” ― Henry David Thoreau

I submit this quote aptly applies to the International/District Council officers as they are “loyal to a fault” to their respective General Presidents. Here’s another: “The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules” – Banksy. What they’re talking about here is blind obedience.

Here’s an easy test – when have you ever seen any of them ask questions of the GP at a convention, agents’ meeting, General Executive Board, etc. – not behind closed doors, but witnessed by the Rank & File? A really passionate debate/discussion about the direction of a given trade & policy?

Are the R&F guilty of this also? Yes, we are. Although we are foolish for a different reason – TOYS!

You’re probably thinking, “Are you nuts, Labor Rising?” Well, consider the last 50 years. Past the inner workings of politics in our own respective locals and Internationals, what on earth (be specific) have the trades contributed to ANYTHING regarding workers’ rights and the advancement of a workers-led MOVEMENT? Next to nothing!

Why?…… Toys! Between all the huge trucks and Jeeps, Harleys, bass boats, ATV’s, RV’s, and a whole lot more, along with the debt that comes with them – who has time to picket, educate, advance workers’ rights, do street theater, organize, control hiring, develop peppers & salts, etc. and win!?!

We’re fools if we think we bought them with our skills and time on the job. Nope! They were all bought thanks to our Founders’ concerted street organizing efforts of our respective trades right through the late sixties. We have enjoyed the Founders’ hard work for the last 50 years, buying toys and not doing one damn thing in the streets to sustain the opportunity to continue to earn them.

Labor Rising would compare that with the January 6th patriots’ BS! As those “patriots” go to court, they almost routinely plead out at some point. Why? Toys! When it comes down to playing with the toys or standing by a principle (and perhaps a little jail time) – toys win. They compare themselves to the FOUNDERS of our country – talk about delusional.

Our country’s Founders put every toy they had on the line and forfeited ALL! Land, wealth, title, etc. and, by the way, risked being shot dead on sight.

The Founders of both our country and Canada, along with the trades’ Founders put everything on the line. Now, we are posers with our tattoos, stickers, toys and self-image of how skilled we are. Try building a roof cornice back in the day compared to today. No contest in skills.

We stand on the shoulders of giants in both terms of skills and advancing a MOVEMENT of workers’ rights as the historic events we use as a punchline today to justify our complete lack of contribution to a greater good.  

Shift gears back to our General Presidents who, in the early 70’s, created the transactional business unions to serve construction end-users, et al. Today the R&F say and do nothing as PLA’s (Project Labor Agreements) erode CBA’s (Collective Bargaining Agreements) everywhere. Most R&F are worried that we’ll price ourselves out of many markets with our contracts. But, have no fear, the business plans of our Internationals and management alliances know that there is and will continues to be less and less use of CBA’s. So, it’s a moot point – end-users are end-running CBA’s, hence there is no need to pay them in the not-so-distant future.

Pensions, hours, CBA’s and Organizing are all in the same sinking boat. And the captains are those who sunk ‘em. The International Officers from the early 70’s through today are beholden to the management alliances, while we are out playing with our toys!

The trend of growing numbers of PLA’s will continue unless we, the R&F, put some real skin into the game and quit the talk of how tough we are – and actually become tough using concerted activities.

Our own Internationals are the problem that we let happen – case closed! We have the means to shut down our Internationals’ transactional business plan while also hitting the end-users, developers, CM’s, GC’s exactly where it hurts – the wallet. Power to the people type stuff to balance the scale.

An example: What we call organizing is recruitment and here is how it typically works throughout the trades.

(Disclaimer: I wish I was as smart as the collection of those organizers who surround/contribute to Labor Rising. This is their work – I just wrote it.)

Recruitment Building Trades style. Or, securing bodies for hours for a discounted price.

  1. The organizer is a marketing rep.

A “real” organizer back in the 60’s signed approximately 7 CBA’s per year in 2nd tier cities, which lasted a minimum of 3 years – EACH. How many ORGANIZERS hit this bogie today with a much bigger market? If you don’t, you’re a marketing rep.

  1. They produce an hour-by-hour report on a daily basis for the month.
  2. Then they send it to a regional representative for review and it is forwarded to the Director in Washington.
  3. Guess what – the report is now a liability in a ULP (Unfair Labor Practice Charge) case and can be weaponized against the union.

(This is why Labor Rising follows the tried-and-true organizing practice of keeping your mouth shut unless you specifically know why you are opening it – past “we are skilled”.

  1. The International then sends down an action plan that “EMPOWERS” the regional rep.
  2. Regional reps then follow through and take control.

Repeat approximately every 20 months because that is the life of a marketing rep.

Look at all that energy expended only to lose market share over the last 50 years. This is stay busy and think you are making a difference International strategy. Some solid believers will try a bottom-up campaign with minimum training in labor law & mentors long removed, BY DESIGN by our Internationals. Hence why Labor Rising is hated by the Internationals. Just 2 of our organizers have more signed CBA’s than all of the combined trades Directors of Organizers. Jimmy W. is not a trades organizer, or Labor Rising would have to add another organizer – maybe 2.

Add that the Internationals dictate that you call x number of non/anti-union contractors per week and “talk to them”. Because of a complete lack of knowledge, the average marketing rep does not know he or she has given the non-union contractor yet another weapon to beat you. It is called recognition and possible secondary boycott “IF” you go into the streets unprepared.

All other facets of labor have skin in the game. Today, the Internationals run by women activists are at the forefront and can beat corporations in the field. Building Trades: We can’t even beat a rug.

Not the organizers’ fault or for even that matter the marketing rep’s fault. The training they receive is by design retreads of losing action plans endorsed by the Internationals’ Presidents to keep us busy and stay out of the way.

Next piece we will highlight another slight-of-hand strategy from professional wheeler dealers.

We are headed for a Work to Rule uprising in safety on PLA’s – unless of course all we got is our toys!

If we fancy ourselves as Vikings – then let’s be Vikings!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

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