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14 Trades Need Teamster General President O’Brien to be Their President –

James, Eric, Mark, Timothy, Jimmy, Doug, the other James, Terrence, Kenneth, Kevin, Brent, Michael and, unfortunately, even Frank & Warren (great letter) are being shown up in every way by General President, Sean O’Brien of the Teamsters! 

He is the only one we can legitimately call Brother if you really stop and think about it.

Elected in November of 2021 by direct election of one member-one vote, he was neither the incumbent nor endorsed by the incumbent. He makes approximately 65% of the salary of each of the 14 above-listed minions of management (aka building trades general presidents).

Brother Sean (not to be confused whatsoever with the WHATEVER over at the NABTU) has stood on more picket lines than the entire other 14 GP’s. Typically, the above 14 GP’s use a picket as a photo op; and, unbelievably, they are as likely to be on some other union’s picket than their own trade’s!

Brother Sean leads 1.4 million active activist Teamsters members, more than the combined memberships of the remaining 14 Building Trades, which is just under a million active members. And the 14 have a creative way of counting members – just look at Schedule 13 of your respective International’s LM-2.

Teamsters by contrast are winning members and improving members’ lives both on & off the job. This blog isn’t long enough to list them all, but you know about UPS & the Amazon Organizing Division.

Conversely, the trades continue to lose market share and members “NET”, which is mind blowing considering all the infrastructure work going on in North America.

So why wouldn’t all of the BT trades’ members want to come under the Teamsters banner? Particularly when the BT Rank & File pays for what are virtually carbon copies of each other’s Internationals organizations along with huge senior salaries, expenses and feather bedding administrations.

The 14 BT General Presidents surely do look like they kowtow to management. Evidence: end-users, CURT, NMAPC, AGC, TAUC, et al, along with all of the management associations (mostly paid for by R&F dues) that have an outsized control of the workers in the field. Another example: The Book of Decisions of the NMAPC https://www.nmapc.org/using-nma/?fa=decisions Lots of binding decisions here – what does the reader think the percentage of favorable rulings for the R&F trades are?

Local unions R&F get worked over in every way possible by the Internationals, on members’ rights, strikes, negotiations, agreements shoved down their throats and especially when the Local is taken over by the International.

The General Presidents are the conduit of that control by management using a continually changing constitution and by-laws that restrict members and locals with each new version.

Some context – Starbucks alone has more RC Petitions (representation elections) than the entirety of the North American Building Trades since March of 2022. The R&F need to stop with our delusional thinking that our skills sanctified by the holy 14 define being in a union MOVEMENT with next to zero action in the streets! Skills are great – it is NOT activism whatsoever.

Workers in most sectors are getting up off the mats and becoming activists again – but not in the trades. We talk a good game, but our words are not backed up by any consistent effort that results in wins to raise market share and improve the 88% of building trades workers NOT in a union.

The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) allows members in one union to change unions. Per the NLRB, members have a right to be represented by a union of their choice. In organizing campaigns, Labor Rising has successfully led such campaigns at the NLRB, experience in this area directly.

If 30% of members sign cards asking for an election to determine who the R&F want to represent them to the NLRB, an election of all union members is held. Whichever union gets 50% plus one of the votes is declared the winner and the Local is then represented by that Local/International.

Since the internationals enforce the rules they craft, perhaps the R&F may want to align with a truly democratic union. Are the Teamsters perfect? Nope! However, they are night and day better in how they treat the R&F and locals. They go toe-to-toe with management when needed, not the trades!

Is it that easy? Kind of – how’s that for an answer? It depends on the status of membership. For example: Are the R&F under a 9a or 8f agreement? What is that? Look it up. Who owns the Hall and other assets of the Local. But if the membership feels that the time has come to go with a winner as their representative, the membership has a hard-core option.

Overwhelmingly the contractors are not going anywhere and may actually embrace a real union (Teamsters) that organizes anti/non-union contractors. And benefits can stay intact.

What would the Teamsters, with 2.4 million members (essentially winning over the R&F of the BT), look like when the Teamsters represent all of union construction? They could bring pressure to bear, a lot of it as a united craft as needed, on end-users, developers, CM’s, etc.

Labor Rising would prefer that equation vs. the laissez-faire status quo of always losing, which we in the trades have perfected for 5 plus decades. Labor Rising is confident that mergers of some crafts would be in order, while most crafts would keep their identity as a department in our opinion. Each of the trades would be part of the whole – called Teamsters!

Think of the consolidation in terms of eliminating all the wasteful spending x 14 unions. Getting rid of toxic layers of wannabee sycophants and the infighting among trades, all the while mentoring organizers to win! The R&F members would also be able to fight for the rights of all workers. No more talking about being activists but acting as true activists – the kind that our FOUNDERS would embrace!

Would such a consolidation be raiding? Even if doing so violates jurisdiction at the Building Trades level, bottom line question is: does the NLRB care? No sir! The R&F holds all the cards here. The R&F may need a little patience; however, but the NLRB will follow the will of the voters regarding who they want to represent them.

We in the Building Trades have deserved the kind of representatives we currently have, which is terrible in every MEASURABLE way – “NET”. We have done next to nothing to stop the continued erosion of the constitutions & by-laws. That in turn has led to management having far too much influence on the International Presidents and by extension the field R&F.

The NLRB allows the R&F to change that equation. However, we wouldn’t even need the NLRB if we used our own force of action to change the status quo as true R&F brothers & sisters!

Update, Labor Rising has been working with field members to understand that Work 2 Rule (WTR) is NOT a labor slowdown or a “wild cat” strike and getting them ready to implement WTR on PLA sites. Enlightened hands are fanning out all over North America from a tiny little job in the desert in the southwest. More on that in upcoming blogs, along with more on how members can reassign who represents them.

                                                         “if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

May Day – As a Person of Labor, If You Do Not Know the Significance of This Date, You Are a Poser

Work 2 Rule – building to a day of reckoning in the trades.

Management does NOT own the job – nor the senior trades leaders – we, the workers, do!

Consider:

  • Measurable market share over the past 50 years has continuously declined “NET” across the trades.
  • Density of trades workers vs. non-union workers is worse than market share and is the better measure for senior leadership’s failures over the same 50 years.
  • Organizing via the protocols of the trades IS NOT organizing. It has devolved into recruitment. The standard rank & file organizer who attends either that trade’s in-house organizing or the Building Trades junk, even including marketing training, is limited BY DESIGN by our senior international leaders. Should an organizer build a “war room” and bring heat on the alliance’s contractors’ non-union jobs, that organizer will be derailed and/or shut down. Organizers and marketing reps at all levels (including international organizers) are to be kept busy and out of the way! The sheer number of hours in meetings and generating reports mitigates against effective organizing & marketing along with ineffective training and turnover. How is it possible that the current international organizers, and the prior international organizers since the late 70’s, have ALL failed so spectacularly? If a contractor should be signed, it is more a matter of being in the right place at the right time than a result of the efforts expended. Low hanging fruit contractors that are signed will not be enough to raise market share – check the actual numbers of your trade and locals and you’ll see for yourself that 92% are making no progress improving their numbers.
  • Pension underfunding is growing. The once fair way of trying to zone a fund, i.e. Green, Red & Yellow zones, has been totally prostituted. Hours and return on investments drive the health of the pension – and you need both to stay well-funded. Investments and hours evolve and can be smoothed out, but that ship has sailed, especially on the hours side of the equation. The government, both D’s & R’s, have added layers of restructuring debt via legislation, so our funds look far better than they really are. More specifics in upcoming blogs – warning, details are a bitch!
  • Modularization, miniaturization, roll-ups, consolidation & contraction of the construction industry as we once knew it is rapidly changing with technology finally coming to construction via block-chain and other industry advancements in construction delivery. By the end of this decade, because it is ramping up that fast and all things being equal, hours will continue to be eroded and mega jobs will take a fraction of the hours to build compared to yesterday and even today. These changes are already here folks and most rank & file field journeypersons, and even apprentices, see it!

The bullet points above can be objectively measured when all the subterfuge of our internationals peeled away. Our Building Trades are not unions any longer – they are businesses that are mostly controlled by the management alliances to facilitate the jobs they do. A rank & file member has close to zero input as to who their senior leaders are. The Building Trades are far from a democratic free and independent trade movement!

How many examples of our internationals rolling over to the alliances do the rank & file need?

Here’s yet another one dated 01/17/2022

“Use of Specialty Contractors The Committee has been requested to provide a clarification on the use of “specialty contractors”, as it relates to Article IV, Section 3 of the National Maintenance Agreements”.

Translation may be that more non-union contractors that are “specialty contractors” will be on jobs going forward. The few remaining union contractors will double breast their specialty contracting operations as modularization ramps up. Nearly all construction companies will be specialized so they can adapt to a fast-moving construction delivery.

The trades will train the workers for these specialties – union or not. The odds are those workers will not be paid even though they are training for specific specializations.

Management alliances have been very smart in keeping the trades unions in “NAME” close to them. Giving the respective trades senior leader just enough hours to maintain their power over the rank & file to do the alliances’ demands and jobs!

It is impossible to review the Book of Decisions coupled with the steady erosion of wages, conditions, benefits, per diem and more since the early 70’s and not see our senior leaders as nothing more than minions of the alliances.

If we as workers value ourselves and our families this poorly, then we deserve what will transpire as construction enters this new era of modularization and construction delivery.

We own the jobs if we Work to Rule on safety on our respective jobs that are under a PLA or specialty agreement.

Why are we NOT working to the letter of safety? Almost every journeyperson knows when they are not. A little voice or bell in our heads warns us. That bell/voice matches up with the letter of safety very closely.

Example: Prying a pipe into position in the air with a 2”x 4” while you wedge yourself around a hanger, so you don’t fall if the board breaks. We could fill books with these examples for all the trades. If you need to build a scaffold and use a chain fall, for example, you know that is precisely what that voice in your head said. Whatever time it takes to do it right and safely, it takes. That is exactly what the governing safety document for the job says you should do.

Because of our skills we typically silence that bell/voice in order to produce the job and meet deadlines. A decade ago, that was fair. However, now the companies will do everything they can do to deny any compensation once we are hurt.

This isn’t retaliatory or vindictive behavior; it is sound reasoning given the circumstances our own internationals have placed us in.

We are either victims and continue to blame those who are actually to blame, or we own the job and work professionally but to the LETTER of safety that both the company and the union want you to (BUT do they really?)

Work 2 Rule. It is your job, your body & our union, if we want it to be again.

Nothing is guaranteed without action. Case in point: Roe v. Wade was a lock – not!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Where are the AFL Women?

Sister Mary Kenney O’Sullivan was the first female organizer of the AFL in 1888. She lasted 5 months before having a falling out with Gompers. Use the link below to read her bio. You will notice strong parallels of the male leaders back then to today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kenney_O%27Sullivan

Approximately 20 years ago the NABTU (North America’s Building e Unions) started to address the shortages of women & people of color in the trades. Why?

Primarily, because the low number of women and people of color in the trades was emerging as a substantial public relations nightmare. Additionally, huge numbers of jobs, both public and private, demanded women and people of color to fill out the shortages of workers with skills (even back then) and to comply with laws and the EEOC.

At that time, women comprised approximately 3% of the unionized trades’ workforce according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Today, women represent approximately 12% of the TOTAL construction workforce, with only a tad over 4% being on the union side of the Building Trades. The number of women on the non-union side has marginally improved too, which makes sense since 88% of the total construction workforce is non-union.

The difference between 3% & 4% on the union trades side is statistically moot. Improvement? Yes, but movement over 20 years? Terrible track record! Why?

All the buzz these days is around DEI (Diversity Equity & Inclusion). Everyone has an opinion on how these strategies look and are developed. Perhaps take a look at the DEI progress made by the Armed Forces. Those programs aren’t perfect, but they’ve made significant strides in broader opportunities for women and people of color.

Trends also appear to have demonstrated that DEI GENERALLY improves the bottom line of a BUSINESS!     And the trades’ senior “guys” unrelentingly continue to think about major issues facing UNIONS in business terms. While we’ve seen unions outside of the trades adopt DEI programs, the trades aren’t demonstrating any substantial & sustainable progress on DEI.  Why?

In the last 50 years, unions’ strategies to improve market share have focused on TRAINING programs – in spite of the fact that EVERY measurable number has demonstrated conclusively that this myopic focus on training has not achieved the goal. So, why would anyone expect that union leadership would change their approach and adapt new, effective strategies based on DEI?

Based on historical experience, it’s logical to expect that the trades’ version of DEI will include notable talking heads to create authority and conduct meetings that go on forever, and ever… Oh, and conduct studies, lots of them, relying on consultant “experts” to define the issues and present solutions.  Respectfully to the sisterhood – who knows the obstacles and impediments to improvement better than the rank & file? And who can drive solutions in the field tailored to the membership’s growth better than the rank & file?  LEAVE all the infighting at the door of the convention and turn your energies to solutions pointing that energy outward. Debate with passion, but “get ‘er done” and take it to the field. Issues such as childcare, maternity leave, family benefits, training, equitable pay, etc., are all important considerations, right? Yes! Is that enough? No! 

No one knows the above listed issue as they relate to working in the skilled trades better than women. But, take a look at most pictures of the Sisterhood coming together to discuss these very important issues at meetings and conventions. What do you see? White guys in the picture. These are not benign photo ops, but rather they are staged reminders of who is in charge – mostly old senior trades leaders, again mostly white men who are not so subtly influencing and paying for how a DEI forum discusses the issues.

Women may want to take a page from Hispanics in union construction who historically took their cue from Irish immigrants. Both groups bulldogged their way into sizable numbers & representation in the trades.

Women in the trades have a far greater hurdle. The “good old boys” are going out of their way to keep women out of the organizing ranks or controlling them similar to the environment of 1888.

Really? Well, that’s Labor Rising’s experience.  We have trained 658 organizers,” marketing” reps & recruiters across North America over 12 years. Out of the 658, only 27 have been women – that’s it! 19 of the 27 were assigned to community relations and DEI roles by design. These women wanted to be organizers but were steered into other roles that, while important, are NOT organizers!

In addition – I was a structural teacher for the Ironworkers and had the first 9 women in class back in the 90’s. It would take to approximately 2010 and longer for women to show up in organizing (just a few), community outreach and now DEI officers in the trades.

DEI is very important; however, having near zero women organizers translates directly into near zero women in the trades!

Polls show that workers are increasingly willing to consider unions in the workplace again. Humor me – which unions lead the way in pushing real membership numbers higher? The top tier of unions that have increased membership are mostly run by women. Not in any order: SEIU, AFT (teachers), NNU (nurses), Flight Attendants, Starbucks, Apple, etc. Liz Shuler is the President of the AFL-CIO. Want more? Have some fun and Google notable women in labor history.

There is a strong argument to be made that if the WTUL (Women’s Trade Union League), founded by Mary Kenney O’ Sullivan in 1903, didn’t show up when they did, the giant business conglomerates would have nixed most of the unions that were flailing at the time, including the AFL. The irony here is that if Gompers did not fire Sister Mary in 88, she would not have had the time to build the WTUL to keep the AFL and several other unions in the fight. Sister Mary proved to be remarkably successful in uniting women from all classes to work toward better, fairer working conditions. Kind of sounds like an objective of true DEI programs working hand-in-hand with organizing efforts.

The senior white guys leading the building trades unions WILL NOT give power to anyone – least of all women in the organizing ranks. Can you imagine them dealing with Sister Mary? The “good ole boys” work hard to assign the few women we have to positions that may be more window dressing than taking advantage of their passion, commitment and abilities that could lend to a real movement in the trenches as organizers.   

In fact, we don’t believe women organizers would tolerate the sheer BS in how the trades “ORGANIZE” today! An organizer’s entire mission is to get management to sign a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) using a full playbook of concerted activities. Go ahead and say NO to a women organizer – good luck with that. None of these comments are intended to be pejorative. They’ve proven to be historically true and continue to be so in the unions that have a real balance and diversity of organizers in the field! The most powerful title in all of labor is ORGANIZER – not BM or International President! The senior trades officers have worked hard to remove that title and the hard-core tactics used since the mid 70’s. BY DESIGN.

Women, far more than the trades’ senior officers, understand the power of a MOVEMENT. They will not sell out to our International Presidents, who themselves roll over to the management alliances and just kiss the ring of management!

Every organizer should know that when conducting home visits, if the spouse does not trust and collaborate with their partner’s decision to join the union, that worker typically would not be a good union member. Transactional recruitment is exactly that – transactional. The building trades in a word.   Labor Rising has developed a cyber-organizing platform to work with scores of non-union workers at the same time. Women by-and-large ask the bread & butter questions on how being organized works. They don’t want rah-rah BS, and if you lie – you’re done as an organizer with that family and their entire sphere of influence.

We can talk union and skills ad nauseam, which is mostly recruitment. However, the best union members earned their way into a union one way or another – with perhaps the scars to prove it. Giving a union card out seldom creates a bond of Brothers & Sisters. It is a transactional payday for as long as it lasts. Organizing, on the other hand, will scare both our Internationals Presidents and the management alliances that they serve. So, take those same organizing skills and run over the current IP’s at convention. They are businessmen serving a business interest and replace them with those that assert workers rights and create more than enough of labor unrest on and off the job to compel management to sign a CBA!

For a long time, organizer jobs were few, far between and mostly handed out in a very selective manner. More recently, most of the trades have open slots and are actually looking for organizers’ resumes. So, activist sisters, call our bluff. Apply for all organizers’ jobs you find and see how you are put off, derailed, or alternatively put into a status quo position. That’s your first hurdle, but doable. Second hurdle is the piss poor training you get to burn you out and ensure you lose. BY DESIGN.

In our next Labor Rising blogs, we will provide the syllabus of how an organizer needs to be trained. Perhaps you will come to learn that running around and spinning your wheels has a point to it, IF YOU ARE THE DIRECTOR OF ORGANIZING, which is to keep us busy and lose far more than we win.

NABTU: Labor Rising has challenged you before and we will challenge you with this – let the 27 women we have worked with “ORGANIZE”! We’ll go out of existence if they fail. Are you willing to take the challenge and watch them win? 

Sisters: The future of the trades rests with you. The pensions, benefits, diversity and advancing workers’ rights, while reasserting middle class values of fairness, are on you – AGAIN!

Step into battle.

Don’t count on us guys to break the status quo that has existed for 50 + years. We show no evidence of being effective in solid numbers to organize (because of inadequate training), Work 2 Rule, or show any signs of civil disobedience at convention or agents’ meetings or other venues.

But we do tell anyone who listens how badass unions are, while not having earned any street cred like our FOUNDERS did! None. We live in a fantasy land of our own choosing.

“if you see a good fight sister – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

The Building Trades Has Many PIGs (Passive Income Generators) Feeding Off the Trough Fed by the Rank & File

The definition of Passive Income Generators: a business (Building Trades promote themselves as businesses) that produces passive income that can be used to offset passive losses (pitiful attempts to sell themselves and us).

The Building Trades, trades’ Internationals and their marketing arms all use the term Value, which as a noun, denotes the importance, worth or usefulness of something or someone. One of the PIGs is the NABTU (North American Building Trades Unions). This organization claims to provide “VALUE”, as the “leaders” consider themselves savvy negotiators. But let’s look at the evidence. The total numbers of hours lost on PLA jobs dwarf those gained “NET” on agreements.

Don’t take our word for it. Let’s use an example directly from the NABTU website.

NABTU SETS INDUSTRY BAR HIGH WITH FIRST NATIONAL OFFSHORE WIND AGREEMENT

“This national agreement is the first of its kind in the U.S. and sets the bar for working conditions and equity, creates career opportunities, and ensures projects are built with the safest and best-trained workers in America”.

Reality – the trades get 25% of the work in the first year, rising 5% for the next 3 years, topping off at 40% —  HOPEFULLY!?! Project Labor Agreements have a history of changing or being restricted and/or canceled.

So, who is doing the balance of the work? Workers who the project owner sees fit to employ. If we have the “BEST” craft skills in the world, is 25% truly all the NABTU can negotiate? Use this example multiplied by hundreds of concessions in ALL industry sectors and project out the loss of wages, benefits, conditions, per diem, percentage of the job being union, working with non-union, etc. The Rank & File knows this to be true because they see it every day! All the while the staff of NABTU typically make 6 figure salaries and nearly half million at the top!

Another example is the TSMC chip production just outside of Phoenix, with a few more to follow. Huge numbers of Louisiana & Texas plates on this mega job. Phoenix BT cannot get past the gatekeeper. The NABTU will act as Knight in Shining Armor, in their mind, and TRY to secure any hours at this point. This job has been ongoing for over a year now and the hours slip away due to a complete lack of ORGANIZING ability.

At the end of this blog is an article that discusses typical issues expressed by local & state BT leaders. Measurable numbers indicate it has gotten worse in every way possible – “NET”!

Shaun Enright is the BT leader for the Northwest Ohio Building Trades. Think of Robbie Hunter or Lee Newgent – Shaun is in that class. Call Labor Rising’s bluff and see how many CBA’s IBEW 8 (Shaun’s home local) has signed when everyone else is only recruiting and selling.

More PIGs –

One only has to know of the NMAPC (National Maintenance Policy Agreement Policy Committee) to understand the sheer magnitude of hours lost on projects across North America from around 1970 to now. The trades and NABTU roll over to more and more demands made by end-users generally represented by CURT (Construction Users Roundtable). Lots and lots of 6 figure salaries here paid off the backs of the Rank & File.

The Rank & File also has a HOG in our midst (Heart of Greed) ….

….and that would be CURT, which has some interesting alliances that our International Presidents conveniently OVERLOOK.

American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC
National Right to Work – NRTW
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Heritage Foundation 
Tea Party
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc – ABC

All of the groups listed above have to be fed big money to survive – we’re not talking chump change.

The above groups, and others, are the anti-union, anti-worker entities that put the strategic policies of entities such as Construction Users Round Table (CURT) and the National Manufacturers Association (NMA) into action. They all have extensive networks that work at the state and community level to promote and fund their agendas. CURT’s is their Local Construction Users Group, which legally buys (lobbies) national, state and local Politian’s good will.

Since an entity like CURT works 7 days a week to bring about the demise of organized labor as we know it, why is it that our IPs feel they want to collaborate with them? If the Building Trades allow a bully to continue to take their lunch money, then they shouldn’t be surprised when the bully takes it all!

Labor–Management PIGs

The trades have them working with owners, managers, contractors from across North America. A lot of R & F dues that are paid out result in a negative return on investment, as BTs consistently have been losing market share over time. So, what is their purpose – to lose? In any other arena they get fired! 6 figure titles to lose! Can’t make this stuff up folks!

When our respective trades claim they educate thousands of contractors and end-users, one can only conclude that our marketing entities aren’t very good at their jobs. When 88% of all construction is non/anti-union with the sheer number of double-breasted contractors, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the union side is feeding intel to the non/anti-union side that literally kills us!  

An example here is Bechtel. They use Custom Mark for union work when and if they need or want too. Any bets on union hours vs non-union for total job hours including subs?

Article From the Sentinel – Tribune

Union requests labor investigation of First Solar

By Roger LaPointe -December 15, 2022

ROSSFORD — An alleged labor immigration violation by First Solar has been reported to the Department of Labor by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8 and investigations of the new First Solar construction project at plant number three in Lake Township are being requested.

The allegations were reported by Joshua Abernathy, a spokesperson and business agent for Local 8.

“I represent the electrical workers employed by Rudolph Libbe’s subcontractor; GEM Industrial. I visited the job site and observed approximately 100 foreign nationals performing work typically performed by American workers in the building and construction trades industry,” Abernathy said.

Rudolph Libbe is the general contractor for the site, but not listed as the company or entity committing the alleged violation. The company listed as committing the alleged violation is First Solar, with the nonimmigrant workers possibly placed with three different businesses: TERA, Grenzebach and/or GPSI.

First Solar’s Chief Manufacturing Operations Officer Mike Koralewski said there have been no violations.

“The work conducted at our new Ohio facility is in accordance with the National Maintenance Agreement and contracts signed with individual vendors,” he said in a statement.

Abernathy said that the impact is felt by the electricians in lost wages, retirement and health care and lost tax revenue to the local communities, state and federal government.

“It’s not a trained quality workforce being brought in to displace American workers,” Abernathy said.

The complaint was received by the Department of Labor on Aug. 3, detailing 14 alleged violations Abernathy witnessed related to possible H-1B/H-2B visa abuse at First Solar PGT3, located at 28380 Tracy Road. The plant is scheduled to open early in 2023.

Among the violations are failing to pay the prevailing wage and fringe benefits, that U.S. workers were displaced and that U.S. workers with higher qualifications and skill levels were displaced by foreign workers.

Also listed in the complaint against First Solar are subcontractors TERA, GPSI and the Grenzebach Group.

“At one time, Gem Industrial peaked at approximately 150 electrical workers on site. When the foreign workers showed up to work, on work never assigned to Gem or any other local contractor, Gem started to lay off (U.S. workers) and is now down to less than 30 employees doing electrical work,” Abernathy said In a follow-up interview. “That portion of the work was never going to be an American job. Gem was never given any of the work.”

In the complaint, Abernathy wrote that he observed approximately 100 foreign workers performing the work at First Solar plant off Ohio 795 that is currently under construction.

“Working at a pace of 10-hour days, six days a week, for nine months plus, totals over 266,000 man-hours lost and some $18.5 million in lost wages that would have been appropriately taxed for federal state and local income taxes,” Abernathy said.

The IBEW list of work performed by foreign laborers includes: wiring involved for the install of assembly line and associated conveyors, the offloading, locating, staging, tracking and installation of material, setting of motor control cabinets, raceways, and wiring routed between control cabinets and field devices on equipment, installation of task lighting and indicator lights, the mounting of field devices and electric motors and terminations of all control and power for motors devices and cabinets. All of the listed work is considered by the union to be standard industrial electrical work regularly performed by members of the local union.

There are also potential safety issues involved, he said.

Abernathy said that the controls being installed by the foreign workers “include the limits and emergency stops that protect the line workers operating in close proximity to the equipment.”

First Solar was asked to comment on the allegations reported to the Department of Labor.

Koralewski said that First Solar’s manufacturing equipment suppliers are required to provide personnel to each site in order to install, maintain and troubleshoot machine performance.

“First Solar requires each of these suppliers to comply with all regulations applicable to their employees,” he said in the statement. “It must also be pointed out that the facility, which is expected to be commissioned in the first half of next year, is the product of over half-a-million hours of work performed by union tradespeople.

“First Solar is investing billions of dollars in American manufacturing, which is expected to make us the largest employer in the U.S. solar manufacturing sector with over 3,000 direct employees in four states, while indirectly supporting over 18,000 jobs across the country by 2025,” Koralewski wrote.

The union has asked for additional assistance in the investigation from state and local officials, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. The office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has provided assistance in filing the complaint.

Keep sitting on the sideline Rank & File and let those listed above keep playing you. We will go down together, OR maybe use Work 2 Rule to remind those above who pays their wages. More to come, Labor Rising is doing a bit of recruiting, too!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

“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

Organizer

Labor Rising

Marty Walsh Leaves the Building Trades Better Than he Found it….

….consistent with the oath taken by all Building Trades members. He stabilized the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). He was a key player in the effort to secure $91 billion from taxpayers to shore up Taft-Hartley pensions. And, he advanced infrastructure in the U.S. Now Marty is off to the NHL and his successor has much to do to match this record.

On the other hand, the Sheeters’ General President is off to retirement soon and the Electricians have a recently retired GP. Both the retired and soon to be retired GP’s were less impressive in fulfilling their oath and improving their Internationals in TOTAL market share “NET” across all markets they serve in North America during their tenure.

By contrast, the Teamsters’ (part of the Building Trades) General President, directly elected by the membership representing approximately 1.3 million members, is locking it up with the non/anti-union. He was particularly and aggressively pro-union with Senate R’s at a recent hearing. Bear in mind he receives approximately $193,000 salary for his leadership of 1.3 million members. The other BT GP’s average approximately $450,000 salary, with some Internationals having as few as 30,000 or less members!

The Teamsters have more members than all the other building trades together and his salary is right around $193,000. How’s that for contrast?

To use the business unionism BS speak the GP’s want to use in transactional relationships with management alliances, their individual ROI to the membership and markets is bottom tier performance. They would be fired in every other field excepts ours. Also bear in mind that EACH of the 14 individual Internationals has an infrastructure that is approximately the same size as that of the Teamsters, which serves 1.3 million members.

The entire union labor “market” LOST members in 2022. The Building Trades are a drag on that number even with the Infrastructure legislation.

Before we can talk about the transactional relationship of our Internationals and how to take it back, let us look at the most recent LM-2’s of our respective Internationals and the extensive bloated staff and/or patronage of those who are paid to keep the membership IN LINE!

US Department of Labor Union Search Form Link –  https://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/rrlo/lmrda.htm#.ULZCXYUbp3Y  

  • Click on the above link.
  • The Online Public Disclosure Room page will come up.
  • Scroll down to Union search link.
  • Click on it.
  • Put the File # of your international in that box (see list below).
  • Hit Submit.
  • Scroll down past the master index of unions – a short scroll.
  • The Union for which you input the file # will have the most recent year’s LM-2 and those of past years.
  • Some Internationals have the LM-2 for 2023, although most are for 2022.
  • Do your homework so we can have an intelligent discussion soon.
  • FYI – you may want to a wastepaper basket nearby.

International File #

  • UA File # 000111
  • IW File # 000052
  • IBEW File # 000116
  • OE File # 000159
  • Laborers File # 000131
  • Roofers File # 000135
  • OPCMIA File # 000132
  • BAC File # 000034
  • IUPAT File # 000035
  • Boilermakers File # 000074
  • Elevator File # 000197
  • Insulators File # 000090
  • Carpenters File # 000085
  • SMART File # 000073

NOTE: UTU merged with Sheet Metal Workers in 2014 – hence the name SMART & includes the UTU numbers on the LM-2.

If you want to get your local file number, try Googling it; however, you need the exact name of your local as it typically appears on a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

You’ll find much more info on your respective locals and Internationals as you work with this resource and get better maneuvering it. Or you can continue on FB and look at memes, or maybe a little of both!

Having done some homework perhaps now we can talk about our Internationals’ transactional nature, aka selling the membership for a price, and see if we want to become a MOVEMENT again.

“if you see a good fight- get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Time to Push the Numbers Baby – A Rank & File Trades MOVEMENT

When I first became an Ironworker Organizer, my BM sent me to train under Brent Emons BM for IW 8.

Driving the backroads of northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan, I asked him, “What is the single best trait that makes an organizer good or even great?”

His response was – persistence! I never forgot that! Brent became my mentor, and his wisdom served all union trades well to this day.

The much-needed abilities of research, strategy development, labor law, marketing, etc. are only possible with persistence of action and follow through.

The numbers above will set the stage for a shift in how Labor Rising ratchets up reigniting the Rank & File as a MOVEMENT. Hitting 10,000 plus followers provides the needed leverage in the field and on jobsites.

Most of the R&F would not know that our 258 blogs are not blogs in the strictest of sense of the word. They are really activist communications. Many casual unionist in name think they are too long. 😊

Our blogs and direct training to approximately 350 Locals and District Councils throughout North America have identified field organizers to take back the Building Trades as a worker’s movement rather than a transactional business union with transactional management alliances.

Transactional cost economics of CURT et al, & our senior International officers need to end. Their policies of coercion, threats, incentives, lying, etc. to maintain control of rank & file union field craftspersons needs an end!

Thank you to all the forums that have allowed Labor Rising to publish our “blogs” – we haven’t gotten to this point without your fair and even-handed administration. We know what you’ve been dealing with!

Also, the “likes” for our posts are organic, and as much as we like this – please consider using a text to our number so we can continue to put you into the brother & sisterhood of activist.

All contact info is on our respective social media & website.

Next up, the transactional use of recruitment by the trades – you are NOT organizers as our Founders were by design. Measurable facts. Being played to an end by your own union or Labor Rising? Let us see!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Plus +13% in 2017 Replaced With Minus -12% in 2022

How the Taft-Hartley pension funding numbers are calculated today are dreadful. They have been dreadful for many years since the passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and a few more germane laws since then which have changed how funding levels are calculated today!

Take ALL Taft-Hartley pension plan assets (minus ANY bailouts) and subtract ALL vested participants TODAY and see what the hard funding numbers would be. Prior to 2006, that is essentially what was done with a straightforward way to carry debt. Today’s funding levels are essentially credit cards taken out against other credit cards (that is just on the changes to the amortization schedules – plural) to produce an ACCEPTABLE number to report to you members. Looks warm and fuzzy but read on.

An Article from Marketwatch presents a short read on tens of billions of dollars in bailouts for the Taft-Hartley Pensions:  https://origin-www.morningstar.com/news/marketwatch/20221208466/retirees-celebrate-36-billion-pension-bailout

If the T/H pensions are so well funded – why the 91 billion with far more needed to keep them solvent?

A few years back the Pension Zoning Status changed to include a Zone of “Green but Red in 5 years”. The Department of Labor/Taft-Hartley universe has long known that many pensions that are in major trouble today gave out far too many benefits vs. what the contributions would support. Huge numbers of tradespersons that retired around 2000 and after are receiving far more benefits than they contributed or paid for.  

Our Taft-Hartley/Multiemployer Pensions typically use a rolling 5-year average of investment returns to “smooth out” the ups & downs of the markets in the near term.

This means that we lose the 2017 total investment return of +13% gain and replace it with a -12% loss in 2022.

Our building trades’ pensions historically have a 60% stock & 40% fixed asset allocation with narrow variations.

A 60/40 portfolio return for the current rolling 5-year average is approximately as follow: -3% loss for 2018; +21% gain for 2019; +13% gain for 2020; +16% gain for 2021; and -12% loss for 2022.

Zooming out the average annual rate of return for a 60/40 asset allocation for the 30 years ended 2022 was approximately +9.65% gain. What does that mean to us? Markets measured over longer time frames typically revert to an average that is more predictable for our pension calculations.

A dose of reality. Our pensions have an actuarial assumption that historically ranges from 6% to 7%. Precious few are under 6%, while far too many are over 7%. NOT GOOD!

That historical 60/40 return of +9.65% gain, minus a 7% actuarial assumption leaves a return of +2.65% gain. Now add in the investment fees for all investments of a typical Taft-Hartley pension plan. Depending on the style of investments, and whether they are active or passive, the range would be approximately .65 basis points to 1%. Now we have a return of +2.65% gain, minus .65 basis points resulting in a +2.00% gain investment return. But there’s more. Add in administrative fees “NET” for all pension operations. These costs scale very differently depending on the size and complexity of the plan and how the plan is administered, i.e., internally or by 3rd party. (Labor Rising is in a good position to know this considering the number of Taft-Hartley unions with which we have worked.) If the administrative costs exceed 2.25% “NET” of total pension assets year over year – not good! A consensus of 1.25% TOTAL administrative cost or less is the sweet spot for Taft-Hartley Pensions. That being the case, the +2.00% gain minus 1.25% administrative cost, now leaves .75 basis points, or less than 1%, for benefit improvements or to pay down debt or both.

Hours contributed, the quicksand of funding levels which are never mentioned, have been dropping almost continuously for decades because of lost market share due to the non/anti-union, increases in construction delivery because of technology and the Labor-Management Alliances/Tripartite cooperation for decades!

 Approximately 88% of all Building Trades unions fit into this situation.

Understand this: The trades have been getting the benefit of super-heated market returns and changes to how the funds are calculations with just enough hours coming in due to high levels of construction at this time. However, current hours are far below hours worked even a decade ago.

The markets will revert back to an average at some point, which is not good for our pension funding.

Hours will never have an average as they did in the past because there is no floor anymore, especially with our Internationals’ complete lack of strategy in dealing with non/anti-union and modularization!

Funding for our pensions in “HARD DOLLARS” is slipping. The $91 billion lifeline from Congress, along with super-heated markets, will slow down the pension underfunding – right up until the pension funds run headfirst into a “average” or even worse, a poor market and continuing exponential loss of hours!

No “artful” pension calculations can change this!

However, it is the hours side of the pension funding equation that will sink a huge number of funds. Modularization & miniaturization in the trades’ core markets will cause pensions as much, if not more, harm than lack of organizing in the trenches.

The 50 plus years of NOT organizing in the trenches has been at the forefront of our senior International officers’ core incompetency. It is going to be replaced with the lack of hours worked due to modularization. They have zero ability to do anything other than roll over to the management alliances & discount our jobs & benefits on PLA’s. Those so-called leaders are guaranteeing the demise of the majority of pensions.

Our combined trades Internationals have succumbed to the gods on the fate of pensions in the trades. There’s are a given – ours not at all.

For decades, tripartite labor-management BS has shown itself for what it is – a loser if you are a tradesperson! In the simplest of terms, the more the trades cooperate with management, the worse our market share.

The most onerous threat to pension hours is modularization & miniaturization. It is ramping up to full bore for the remainder of this decade and beyond. Nothing less than a full government bailout of the Taft-Hartley pensions will curtail the ramifications of modularization killing off hours going forward.

The Internationals have zip for a strategy with tactics for either modularization, organizing, or what the trades look like in the very near future and beyond in a modularized world.

Labor Rising has put forth 258 blogs over 12 years detailing both how we got here and, as importantly, how we win going forward. Detailed strategies and tactics. Go to the website and read them before commenting with one a liner. The Internationals are too far up managements’ rear ends to enact any pro-labor tradesperson strategy.

And it appears the Rank & File are far too complacent to the actions of senior officers, apparently content to go down with the ship.

Recruitment and Value-Added BS tactics used by agents are actually expediting our collapse with the full knowledge and direction of our International officers.

OUR INTERNATIONALS HAVE ZERO GAME AND EVERYONE KNOWS THIS FROM MANAGEMENT TO APPRENTICES, AND YET WE IN THE RANKS DO NOTHING!?!

The rest of labor throughout North America is moving and improving workers’ lives – but not the trades. We get what we deserve.

Our Founders were the tough ones. Us – mere posers!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

Our Own Tammany Hall – But all Trades Internationals Have a William “Boss” Tweed at the Helm –

The electricians shuffle. Fresh out of convention the current International President has resigned, and an appointment will fill the remainder of his presidency starting January 4th, 2023, with their small cabal of insiders exclusively dictating who that is.

All trades, by and large, have done this. The rank & file seldom gets a vote.

Before approximately 1975, most leaders of locals and internationals stood for election and most elections were contested. After 1975 that has deteriorated to near Aristocracy, with a tiny sprinkle of totalitarianism. Nearly all members who have pursued activism to change that know that the above is exactly correct.

So why do the rank & file, who feel they are independent and strong-willed making their own decisions, allow a handful of men to dictate how they will live? Bear in mind, many of those senior leaders have NEVER missed a paycheck in any situation.

Our Founders would NOT identify whatsoever with us as much as we think we are a union. Most of our Founders wrote about unions – none of us would qualify today.

At the root of being union is activism, both inside our unions and taking it to the streets when necessary with contractors for a fair deal – negotiated and VOTED on by us.

Our founders offered zero excuses. RTW would not even be a speed bump compared to the fight they waged to give us the lives we live. We have not built one thing on that record. Baby Boomers (including me) have coasted our entire working lives. Millennials, you have much to do to undo the BS the trades call a labor MOVEMENT, that is if you chose to.

Work to Rule – learn and implement and we can move on to tactics to again regain a vote, both within our unions and on contracts!

A New Year to dedicate ourselves to a movement greater than ourselves – who’d of thunk it?!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Organizer

Labor Rising

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

Organizer

Labor Rising