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Biden & the Railway Workers – Nothing Our International Presidents Haven’t Done to Us for 50 Years –


Which, by the way, is giving the management alliance bosses what they want! In fact, the numbers over the last five decades demonstrate that our senior officers have perfected being “toadies” to the “bosses”.

Consider – How much has the price of a dollar increased since 1975?

  • The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.70% per year between 1975 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 450.70%. This means that today’s prices are 5.51 times higher than average prices since 1975, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 18.159% of what it could buy back then.

Unless you are an International officer that is.

Why 1975? Georgine, et al. The change from rank & file activism associated with the Founders of our respective trades to the now current union trade “toadies,” who have appeased and conceded to the management alliances, is very clear throughout the history of the trades.

1975 was the consolidation of most of the trades & management alliances using PLA’s, such as the NMA (National Maintenance Agreements), Presidents Agreements, etc., dictating to the trades’ senior leaders how construction will work. By 1975, those agreements took root across the trades, with the roofers and electricians coming on board by 1980.

All told, a union tradesperson has not only lost ground to inflation but also to measurable concessionary negotiations to management alliances using PLA’s. Those wages, benefits and conditions are responsible for today’s unprecedented reduction of pay compared to 1975.

However, the hours needed and the cost to keep the Internationals afloat are also borne off the backs of the field rank & file.

Construction continues to enjoy increased and stable profits & our Internationals also fill their coffers with money paid to the Internationals as part of those respective agreements. The rank & file have been losing since 1975. Brothers and sisters, it is ALL about hours to the Internationals – case closed!

North America is a tad over 1 million skilled workers short of full employment, yet per diems are drying up nearly everywhere. We man the jobs dictated to us when, where and how and our Internationals facilitate it as the minions to management. Every aspect of the PLA is dictated to us.

It is by design that we continue to recruit and do bottom-up & top-down while a carousel of International organizers continue to lose big time. So-called organizers, or market specialists, continue the same worn-out dance. By DESIGN!

Organizers ARE NOT ALLOWED OR TRAINED to go after the wallets of construction users and contractors, even worst in class anti-union contractors. That is control by the management alliances over our so-called Internationals presidents for 50 years. Got it! As rank & file we have to break that.

Organizers continue to have quotas on how many non-union workers & contractors they contact. Blitzes are almost a completely useless organizing tool, except maybe to meet and recruit potential non-union workers.

Switching gears…

Our multiemployer pensions are on life support with R’s taking the house. $94 billion was a good-sized down payment on the combined debt of multiemployer (Taft-Hartley) pensions and a bit more than the tip of the iceberg, but it is far from the $$$$ needed to help future failing plans. The numbers we see are approximately 2x more than the down payment. And that debt of those plans will grow substantially should hours continue to fall year over year AND “IF” markets do not exceed approximately 7% returns year over year in the next couple of DECADES. If BOTH hours fall & investments underperform, stick a fork in the multiemployer pensions. The debt we racked up is that great.

No amount of concessionary negotiations with management alliances is going to keep the trades in the game as modularization & miniaturization ramp up throughout this decade.

Skills and training will keep us on the fringes of employment with the increase of specialty contractors, and our Internationals will respond with more appeasement and concession until the rank & file DO SOMETHING! The Internationals are confident we will not.  

One day as we get older, your, my, our children will ask about what we did to advance the rights of workers, social justice issues, equity of income, etc.

Of course, we can always point to our tough looking tattoos, Viking hair designs, Facebook postings of what labor has done for North American workers (weekends, child labor laws, overtime, breaks, 8-hour day, etc.) Pathetic, right? Because for over 50 years we have done none of those things. But we do have cool and super tough shirts and stickers like “Bad Ass Union Organizer – Because Bad Ass Miracle Worker isn’t an official job title”! – OR – Union Worker – 100% Determination – 100% Hustle – 0% Excuses – 100% Passion – 100% Professionalism. My god – pure pathetic along with each respective trade’s version of self-serving platitudes – yet we’re doing nothing to advance our unions and workers’ rights! We live in a f*^@ing alternate reality, with a plot, characters, timeline, rabbit hole, back story – told across multiple media & incorporating collaborative STORYTELLING. Go to a union meeting up to convention and you will see it very clearly from this reading on. The trades have taken abject failure to a new level of BS storytelling!

And those leaders collecting awards are the pinnacle of self-delusional tradespersons thinking they somehow have made a difference. Thinking we are Mother Jones version 2.0 is quite delusional.

The trades’ measurable numbers in context show we are losers. Deal with it as any team, political person, business, alcoholic would, and work to change our stars knowing our current senior leaders are NOT a worker’s friend.  

So, we have to invent excuses to our children on how we left the trades “BETTER THAN WE FOUND IT” and our children know all along we are posers. My baby boomer generation will be at the bottom of the historical ledger on leaving unions in a better way. We coasted on the shoulders of those before the baby boomers and rode it into the ground! They are not called the “greatest generation” for nothing.

Millennials tradespersons quit listening to those who continue to play you. Baby boomers rode the golden era of construction earned off the backs of true labor organizers thru the 60’s and cashed it in leaving nothing of activism, militancy, increased density & better wages to you and those behind you.

Work to Rule! We can totally change the narrative for the rank & file. Between now and New Years spend some time resurrecting all the paperwork you signed off on regarding safety. And on a set day you and your co-workers simply do what you signed up to do on all PLA and specialty agreement jobs you find yourself on. Be nice if a good percentage of the job did it. It is not a wildcat or job slow done – it is doing exactly what you agreed to do. BTW you can lose some or a lot of any compensation due you if injured by NOT Working to Rule. Spend at least some of your time understanding job sites and the rules surrounding them. Quit believing anything other than what is in your pocket and the loss of compensation for your family if injured. Band together and everyone pull in the same direction, leave our pissant issues at the fence and do exactly what you signed off on.

Will it register with management and our Internationals? Find out!?! Can they tell you to do anything different regarding safety other than what they had you sign off on? See if you find out that being part of union can change things to a very high degree with activism. Don’t sell out on the cheap. Box out your Internationals’ & managements’ input. Nothing to discuss with anyone other than inside the R&F. Workers can always discuss workers issues among themselves, even if management or the Internationals put a PAID person inside that group. No threats, coercion, or quid pro quo to anyone! Work to Rule.

Keep that kind of discipline and see what your wallet feels like soon down the road. Maybe your dignity too!

We can then again hang in with our Founders and those true contemporary organizers outside of the trades in workplaces like Starbucks, Amazon, APPLE, NY Times, SEIU, etc.

Perhaps then we/you will not have to obfuscate (big word for an ironworker) our roles as union craftsperson’s regarding organizing. Our children will know we are part of the solution regarding workers’ rights, and we won’t have to hide behind iconography of tough sounding shirts and stickers!

When we are good at Work to Rule, we can ramp up and teach the non-union how to use it. The trades are 11% of the construction work force on a good day. We can grow even in a future of modularization, miniaturization & block chain by increasing the union market share at the expense of the non-union sector. Pensions will flourish with a reconfiguration of how we in the trades acquire hours and the pay & benefits attached to them.

But… we have to crawl before we can walk and then run. Work to Rule.

Labor Rising has an army of true organizers throughout the trades who can ramp up signing contractors regardless of if they want to sign or not. They know how to crush or improve a contractor’s business plan. The construction market is undergoing contraction, consolidation and roll-ups. A good/great contemporary trades organizer (with the International out of the way) can heavily influence the market of the future. But first – Work to Rule.

Work thru our senior leaders and make them useless to the management alliances and we will all benefit – well 97% of us!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

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