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Attack an Ambush or Lose –

Vertical agreements in the Building Trades often are an ambush to control the jurisdiction of a job and perhaps then a market in construction.

One trade in particular feels entitled to do whatever they want – whenever its suits them and their management counterparts. The Carpenters are entangled in vertical agreements for their very own survival. (See the LM-2 below). And with the advent of OS2, modularization and miniaturization, they may have stumbled into finding the perfect trojan horse to leverage vertical agreements going forward.

However, the word stumble – happenstance, being in the right place at the right time – may NOT accurately describe the present situation the Carpenters find themselves in.

Labor Combat, which is Labor Rising’s advanced organizing arm, has an awesome ability to do research – better than the combined resources of the building trades. We have both deep and even dark web search capabilities. We search everything, much of which is Building Trades driven, and then some. If there is any paper trail whatsoever, even if you think it was deleted, guess what – it has not been!

The Carpenters, with regard to taking vertical projects to the next level in the era of OS2, are on our radar screen and also now found in our developed research. Labor Combat research indicates zero coordination or strategy in the past decade which has been structured by the Carpenters to this end. However, since 1995, the Carpenters have restructured, and jurisdictional attacks have been the order of business of the Carpenters. Training and serving management’s agenda also can be added to those top priorities. Based on Labor Rising’s research, they are sitting in the catbird seat (now preparing) for the next level in the upcoming changes in how construction is conducted going forward regardless how they have gotten to this point. That is why stumbled is the better bet, but even that counts.

Carpenters are no stranger to jurisdictional battles and being disaffiliated from the AFL, tracing back to 1915 in formal ways. While all trades have jurisdiction battles and pout when we lose, only the Carpenters have a habit of “taking their ball and going home” after they lose!

It has become part of their DNA. It is NOT the Rank & File Carpenters who are the problem for the affiliated AFL unions – it is the senior leadership, and it has been prevalent for almost their entire history!

In 2001 they disaffiliated again from the AFL-CIO and a claimed lack of organizing. History would show that losing jurisdictional awards and being challenged time and again by other BT affiliates for raiding as the primary reasons. They joined the coalition of Change to Win shortly thereafter.

True to their DNA, they disaffiliated with CTW again in 2009 for almost exactly the same reasons as in 2001.

The point here is that as of today, Carpenters are flat out implementing a game plan of doing all other trades’ work throughout North America as a way to grow and stay relevant in construction as the OS2 era unfolds. Their actions, backed up by deep research, leads directly to this point!

Here is a case in point and is by no means a one-off situation per Labor Combat research. Think of it as “the tip of an iceberg”.

Skender modular homes article:

While this is clearly more along the lines of modularization, miniaturization and OS2 will all be linked to construction projects soon across all sectors. Consider the date of this article and then think about the lead time needed to get to the point of facilitation. Thank you to Brother A. B. for tracking this.

No other trades need apply – as every aspect of the build is done by the Carpenters.

And what have the rest of the trades been doing as these ambushes continue to escalate?

NOTHING! Labor Rising would include whining, complaining, educating the market (Value on Display BS), lobbying politicians, stripping of Carpenters by affiliate AFL unions, etc. as nothing more than getting shot up in the ambush.


Organize the Carpenters everywhere you can!

Union members of any union labor organization always have the right to re-assign who they want to bargain for them. Always!

As a BT affiliate, if you have had enough of the Carpenters’ jurisdictional assaults, then organize them.

This is not for a beginner organizer or those who think they are organizers but have NEVER run a RC petition for organizing from start to finish.

The two terms you have to become familiar with are 8F & 9A. They incorporate the provisions for organizing union members from one International to another within the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). They describe the ways and limitations of using an 8F & 9A – and they help an organizer lay out their game plan.

As both 8F & 9A have several moving legal parts, especially the 9A section, you need a lawyer (unless you are a top tier organizer).

A couple of caveats:

  • If the lawyer also has Carpenters’ unions/DCs as clients – then they are out as your pick.
  • If they show any reluctance to do this – they are out.
  • Do they have experience taking an RC petition all the way through to the end, including the many twists and turns which can/will occur (a 9A will have many twists and turns)? If not, they are out.
  • If they will not lay out their version of a game plan to collaborate with yours. They are out.
  • Another caveat is if any lawyer even mentions Article XX more than 1x – lose them. First, the Carpenters are NOT an affiliated AFL union – case closed. They are fair game to be organized! Second, Article XX was written in good faith to prevent BT unions from raiding each other. It has almost zero enforcement. So, if a lawyer even mentions this more than 1x – they are not your group.

These are just some of the caveats – there are more.

Items to consider:

  • Organize to win! Do not play patty cake – we are way past that. Do not just endeavor to drive them back to their jurisdiction. Organize to recover your work, and then all you can get from thereon.
  • When you win the campaign there is a good chance in a vertical agreement that you will win ALL the work performed by the COMPANY/CONTRACTOR! The winners get the contractor, workers and to a high degree the class of jobs done by the losing contractor. Stripping and recruiting just brings in additional workers to your union – UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU WIN THIS STYLE OF ORGANIZING CAMPAIGN – THIS BECOMES YOUR MARKET! GET IT!
  • You win in all ways with a real organizing campaign. No contractor, developer, CM, GC, and especially an end-user wants/likes a coordinated organizing campaign on their doorstep ever!
  • The Carpenters cannot be everywhere. Here is the link to the 2020 Carpenters LM-2. See Schedule 13. See how they and for that matter most BT affiliates count membership. Also consider reviewing past LM-2 of all trades to get an idea of membership over time.

Go to Union Reports – Click Union Search right under it – Enter File Number in box that says Where’s my report – Only numbers – Put in 000085 – Hit Submit – Carpenters will populate the area below – may have to wait awhile – it is what it is.

Schedule 13 shows 432,107 total members – we backed out Section 50 Disabled, Early Retired and Honorary Members which is 75,282. The Carpenters have approx. 356,825 remaining ACTIVE in the field members. How many work both union and non-union? That is a good thing in this case for the Carpenters.

Labor Rising is rather good at mapping markets – we would offer that 360,000 Carpenter members in the bank are more than enough to establish themselves in a superior position with the construction companies in the era of OS2, modularization and miniaturization. And at the expense of the remaining trades. When you can take the combined membership of 4 trades active field members and not fill a football stadium – those 4 trades alone are going to be ate up. The equation looks like this. With OS2, modularization and miniaturization reducing the overall field journeyperson by up to 75% by end of decade. Non-union with 88% of the work now. Those non-union contractors doing everything to survive a massive reduction in work force. And the Carpenters aggressive strategy to be a player when it all shakes out. Tell me how 4 to even 6 AFL trades survive?  It will be to late to merge – they will be gone. The rest that remains will not fare so well and even merging may not save them and certainly not their pensions.  

What strategy and action are warranted now?

Organizing the Carpenters which can be thought of as a forced merger with the AFL. With them out of the equation and merging down to a core set of unions – Labor Rising has it at 3 – 4 max. With enough organizing pressure throughout North America, it certainly can be done. In lieu of that pressure, the Carpenters will gather enough momentum to build members/market share at the clear expense of the other trades! This equation hangs in the balance. You can only lose so many members and contractors before you implode and that is a double edge blade right now! NOTE: Canada has different laws regarding organizing.

  • Persistence – stay with it until you win it. Those contractors that hire any BT affiliate look for a high degree of labor certainty/peace on the jobs – an ongoing organizing drive will remove that certainty/labor peace.
  • The Labor Board cannot and will not DO YOUR Organizing. No “burn and churn” BS. Know how to build a case within the law and with those members being organized from the Carpenters. Do NOT sell to the contractors the Carpenters have signed or use VOD IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE! Those carpenter contractors knew what they chose. Also, talking to them in ANY manner may put the organizing campaign in jeopardy. Labor Rising are purists in this regard. Shut the f*^@ up when you launch your organizing campaign, and preferably for some time before. You can get yourself set up. An effective organizing campaign is served up as cold as possible. DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE and make sure you do not get caught up in conversations. Record it or get it in writing – document.

Additionally, know all good and bad points which have to be addressed with those who your organization wants to organize. An example on the negative side is pension vesting. Does the worker have 3, 4 years in the pension? Can you build a case that even with a pension forfeiture in the Carpenters it will be repaired for career-minded journeypersons by a specific date, all things being equal?

This entire pros and cons list has to be worked thru, point by point – no lying and or sleight of hand BS misrepresentations. 


It is a terrible situation organizing another trade – even if not affiliated. However, it is going to come down to you or them. Choose!

Next blog is for solutions in the OS2 era for the Building Trades.

If you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

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