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55 Belair Coupe (construction today) & 2021 C8 ZO6 (construction in the OS2 era) –

Yes, Brothers & Sisters – that dramatic of a change is here with OS2 (operating system 2)! It will not be 60 years from now. OS2 is being implemented now and will be mainstream by the middle of this decade for most construction companies and for a couple of sectors – end of this decade.

Labor Rising will attempt to explain the two parts of OS2 that will affect your career and pension.

The first part of OS2 is under the hood, or out of view so to speak, and is taking place with OS2 now! It is not seen by the average solid field journeyperson. An analogy most may understand is that the 55 Belair had a 265 ci small block. Can you upgrade that with today’s technology? Absolutely. You can make that small block far better; however, it is still a 55 – 265 cubic inch small block!

That small block is the state of construction right now and has been for the last 60 plus years. You can put all the current technology you want on that engine, but it is still a 265 small block engine. So, technology enhanced systems like BIM (Building Information Modeling) & Lean IPD (Integrated Project Delivery), along with others, are enhancements to a 265-small block engine. But nothing more.

The pyramid style of construction, as it is called today and has been for the last 60 plus years, has NOT and does not work – case closed. However, if we ONLY know and have a 265-small block, then that is all we know!

Enter OS2 – because technology has changed so dramatically – we are now entering an era that will transform how every aspect of construction is performed. Very shortly, a C8 ZO6 – 5.5-liter flat plane crank will be under the hood of construction. And that is a 335 ci engine. Not much bigger in size; however, it packs several hundred to over 1,000 horsepower! OTHER THAN THEY ARE BOTH ENGINES – THEY ARE NIGHT AND DAY! It is because of the operating system improvements in the auto industry that the ZO6 exists. Construction is now on the threshold of its first massive & transformational improvement using technology.

So, can we put a name on this? Well, under the hood what a Rank & File tradesperson cannot see is…

Data Gumbo and PrairieDog Venture Partners Collaborate to Transform Capital Projects with Smart Contracts

An excerpt:

June 10, 2020 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Data Gumbo, the trusted transactional blockchain network for tomorrow’s industrial leaders, today announced a partnership with PrairieDog Venture Partners (PDVP), the technology and development arm of the Operating System 2.0 (OS2) research project co-led by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) and the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT), dedicated to the creation and advancement a new business model for construction.

As you read this, think about every aspect of construction that you most likely know of but generally do not get involved with. General headings include bidding, procurement, safety, labor, contracts, financing, mobilization, invoicing, estimating, weather, transportation and far more. Then think of the subsets of these categories and also that any party involved can and may default on an ability to perform a task once assigned and/or need to be replaced on the fly and in that moment.

With the 55 Belair (pyramid style of construction delivery today) it can take the above actions months and years to get all the ducks in a row in order to actually DO THE JOB!  And the pyramid style of construction may falter or shut down as parties’ default or cease to exist during the job, and also by the way, before and after the job.

With the advent of OS2 and going forward, all those tasks above and more will be performed in DAYS – complete for a shovel ready job of every type! This will have a direct effect on day to day R&F tradespersons in the field – both union or not!

Let us look at one of the above tasks – transactional costs. Do this please: Take an aluminum pop can and crush it under foot. That is what this aspect alone will look like – this is what the R&F will not see. Transactional costs/fees with be crushed from approximately 40% down to 4% — just like the can, in one fell swope. Construction stocks will have value in a portfolio once again. That is a big deal.

A solid example of the early use of OS2 is the oil & gas industry, which is in its infancy and ahead of the construction industry using Data Gumbo and blockchain (also called flat or thin). This may not be good for the UA & other trades when OS2 is using blockchain and are further developed – which is happening now.

An example is:

The second part of OS2 that the Rank & File WILL SEE, is the transformation of modularization and miniaturization in construction of ALL sectors and markets.

Modularization of components is in its infancy today in construction. Under OS2 it will be raised to a state of art and used day to day for nearly all projects. It will be plug & play. It will also use “off the shelf” parts and components. Little to nothing customized. Even the nuclear industry will do this.

Here is an example of OS2 today. Washington State 80-megawatt reactor:

This example also illustrates the use of miniaturization. It is now planned for a single 80 MW reactor. However, they are currently planning for 4 total reactors, or 320 MW’s: and perhaps more. Outages will be on a single unit(s) at a time. Hours for field construction and outages will be reduced by as much as 75% of what it took to build a single one off 320 MW facility and will scale to number and size. But always less and less in hours and need of FIELD tradespersons.

Miniaturization is now an early budding reality in some sectors of construction. Other sectors are overcoming the engineering obstacles that remain. This IS NOT theory. You know some of the companies that have solved the engineering hurdles. They are heavy weights on the market indexes. It is just a few now; however, 4 will turn into 8 and 8 into 16, etc. These are the early adopters of OS2. They are among the several that are doing the beta testing as Labor Rising is writing this.

Once these few remaining hurdles are overcome, construction will go from a 55 Belair to a 2021 C8 ZO6! It is expected to happen by mid-decade, for some end of this decade. Biden’s infrastructure legislation will put this on steroids with huge deal flows. OS2 will add back jobs because of that deal flow, but not enough to offset job loses across the board because of OS2. Hours to fuel a career and pension will put both in jeopardy. And that is in a great construction environment.

The demand for skilled field tradespersons will be reduced overall. There will be some exceptions, such as welding & rigging skills to name a couple. BUT, because of modulization most will be in a fabrication setting and not in the field.  

Organizing opportunities will diminish on the field side of the ledger. The irony here cannot be overstated. The trades finally get an honest and fair Labor Secretary and will not be able to use the fair NLRB department he will oversee for two primary reasons. First – the trades truly suck at organizing and few know their way around even writing a charge much less a full and robust campaign. Even fewer have seen the inner workings of an NLRB office (using this term as both a metaphor & literally). Recruiting and selling are NOT organizing – never have been! Second – the non-union has 90% of the construction work. The non-union is going to be decimated to a far greater degree in the OS2 era and field construction, maintenance, and outages are going to be hit hard. Trying to figure this out as a union organizer is much like trying to catch a falling knife. We also, by and large, have few organizers who know how to do IN-DEPTH research pertinent to being able to ID the survivors or merged non-union construction companies. The non-union will do everything possible to kill off the 10% of trades market share. Also, CURT & CII may have tolerated and/or actually want the trades to stay in the mix. In the era of OS2 – if you can not move and adapt you will die. Not a strong suit for our internationals. Then consider how many union firms are double-breasted! Who are the construction owners & end-users going to save?

Even The Pro Act, the spin on skill shortages, and Secretary Walsh in office will not prevent OS2 from happening.  

None of this is the organizers’ fault. Internationals DO NOT teach this past window dressing BS classes.

Our next blog will deal with vertical agreements in the trades and those trades that use them. Labor Rising has a solution on that.

The blog after that will be solutions for increasing market share in the era of OS2. As we stated in the last blog – if there was ever a time to have LOW market share – it is now. A potential silver lining still exists to the piss-poor strategy of Value on Display! VOD has been a disaster every measurable way for decades – it has to go! 

The solution, as is the case with many things, will depend on senior leaders moving in a completely new direction. The word “bold” is overused and worn out by our senior leaders, so we do not use it here.

Perhaps many R&F will have a little better understanding of the 2 sides of OS2. And perhaps finally conclude that…

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh & Prairie Dog OS2 –

Brother Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, just could not be a better pick for Labor Secretary! I like Bernie, but Walsh is better. I really like Sara Nelson, but Walsh is better – especially for the trades.

Here we have to use the word BUT: But the trades are in for a transformation of the construction world, which will be dramatic and extensive, and OS2 (operating system 2) will be the driving force. From everything we can tell in our research, OS2 is in beta testing on multiple sites even as we write this blog. Fancy way of saying that the kinks are being worked out and OS2 is being taken for some dry runs with real jobs today before it is rolled out to the entire construction world in North America in 2021/2022!

So, let us at Labor Rising clarify what we mean. The CIO side of labor, along with the professional unions, are poised to run up some market share numbers with Secretary Walsh at the helm. Understand the Labor Secretary can only create a level playing field in which to organize and he will do this in a timely manner. Also, the CIO and professional unions are geared up and have a depth of experience with REAL organizing. Some unions in those universes have advanced unionization even in the era of Trump anti-labor America so they will have game with Secretary Walsh.

The management side of these respective industry sectors all are using OS2, OS3 and even some big-time companies are using OS4. So, labor and management are living the changes brought about in the workplace due to operating system changes. From automation to integrating information of every type, labor and management are dealing with real world situations using current operating system platforms. The trades and the WORLD of construction in North America IS NOT! OS2 IS NOT BIM, Lean IPD and a few other modern “PATCHES” made to the existing construction process to shave hours off. OS2 is completely NEW system for construction.

The trades senior leaders (again on the wrong side of strategy development) will be compelled to deal with OS2, which is more in line with how the world works today. The Pro Act, huge infrastructure spending and even Brother Walsh cannot stop construction from the adoption of OS2!

With real life projections (revised up from 50% reduction from the first Labor Rising blog 1 month ago) now projected at approximately 60% to 70% reduction of field labor along with skill levels per how OS2 will affect the construction industry. Life for the field construction industry (union & non-union) is facing a TOTAL transformation. OS2 will add back some of those lost jobs because the construction industry will be capable of doing approximately 2 ½ times the workload when that level of work is available. Jobs are going to be nearly full modularization and miniaturization in almost all situations possible going forward with OS2. Construction management using OS2 will use as few field/outside tradespersons’ hours as is possible using this operating system.   

Who is Prairie Dog? This is from the CURT website:

“Value Creation Through Effective Industry Alignment – The capital projects industry is unsustainable for many sectors of the global economy. Many capital projects either lack new technology, effective management, or both. Current processes are not agile or flexible enough to accommodate change and lack the foresight to envision the operating reality for years in the future. ‘Plan the work, work the plan,’ doesn’t work”.

“CURT and CII (Construction Industry Institute) believe the solution is Operating System 2.0. This vision is a multi-industry, collaborative, research-supported effort that aims to redesign industry procedures and standards and replace them with a standardized, technology-enabled platform that accommodates future changes and makes capital projects more financially viable and sustainable.”

This video is the OS2 presentation delivered by Pete Dumont, CURT President and Stephen Mulva, CII Executive Director on February 12, 2018 at the CURT National Conference:

This video is from the OS2 presentation delivered by Stephen Mulva, CII Executive Director on August 1, 2017 at the CII Annual Conference:

You can also go to and tab over to Resources and click and scroll down to OS2. Pay close attention to the charts used later in the presentations. Organizers, activist, and serious trades members can understand the direction of OS2. Listen to the couple of comments about labor’s use and role, which is extremely limited!

Notice the dates of the videos and contemplate the info needed to do a presentation of this level. This is NOT a fluff piece. And from the 2017/2018 timeframe of these presentations to beta testing in 2020/2021 is a formidable push for adoption.

You may want to also look at the Members list of both CURT (Construction Users Roundtable) and of CII (Construction Industry Institute), which are the prime drivers of Prairie Dog and OS2 adoption.

Why is Prairie Dog emerging now?

The consensus of industry experts about the nexus for OS2 is 3-fold:

  • Stock market valuations of construction firms. See The Construction Index for composite stock numbers: As the speaker in the presentation states, when Snap-Chat has a valuation of 3x that of Fluor Construction, a top worldwide constructor, who wants to own Fluor and BTW the other top constructors?
  • Stuck in history. Using the analogy of the mid 1900’s way of building is exactly correct. “Plan the work & work the plan” is at least 50 to 70 years old and has never really worked – as in ever.
  • And the top reason is that the constructors and even end-users are terrified of the future, which is already HERE! When every constructor is in the same boat, fear is a powerful motivator. The speakers in both videos, along with others we have seen, are terrified of a DISRUPTOR such as Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos becoming builders – them or one of a few dozen or so other disruptors eyeing up construction. So, it is change or die for the constructors!

Have the trades known about this? YEP! You just do not roll out an operating system overnight. Hell, some trades’ marketing groups are even Association members of CURT.

All the recruiting to keep the trades’ active workers’ level near or at 1:1 is also going to hell. The pensions are in a direct line of fire – even with the bailouts(grants) to restore funding to underfunded pensions. Add approx. 125 BILLION to the figure now being discussed and you may NOT still be at the money needed for CURRENT/2020 underfunded plans!! With the real prospect of fewer hours – underfunded plans will grow substantially. Green to red in less than a decade. Also fully funding the entire underfunded amount promised tradespersons compared to funding PBGC is completely different.

Bottom-up (which BTW rarely works for field construction) and top-down are already useless and with the rapid moving adoption of OS2 will be next to zero. Secretary Walsh cannot change what IS happening. Nothing illegal about it. The trades may have some organizing opportunities for fabrication and manufacturing of the components of modularization. However, these jobs will be completely different types and classes of jobs, pay, skills and benefits. Most likely they will also be the installers on site.

The pyramid style of running construction projects (as it is called now) is soon to be dead, to be replaced by a flat, thin or blockchain way of running construction projects.

Since 2012, Labor Rising has taught to go after the wallet/money of the senior-most decision makers of construction. The senior leaders WILL NOT go after the wallet of management; and in failing to do so have placed the trades in a death vise.

There are still two plays, as we at Labor Rising see it currently – for the trades to stay viable.

Labor Rising will present these in upcoming blogs as we continue to understand OS2 to the degree necessary to formulate a strategy.

The fact that the trades compose approximately 11% of construction, which is just a joke caused by Value on Display, has one benefit.

IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME TO HAVE LOW MARKET SHARE – THIS IS IT! Only the union sector can grow market share with the advent of OS2. Barely! Value on Display has to go, in its entirety – who are you going to sell too in the era of OS2? Labor-Management meetings with the bigger players – be they end-users, developers, CM’s, tripartite and the lot are by and large DONE in the era of OS2!

The big problem here is that the trades senior leaders are without an actionable strategy for something THEY knew is coming!

Labor Rising is begging – can we get some Executive VP’s and other senior leaders to step OUT OF LINE!?! Can SOMEONE PLEASE LEAD!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

OS2 & The Building Trades – The Final Nail In the Coffin – A Primer –

OS2 is Operating System 2, which is the first true wholesale change for North American top tier construction users and construction management regarding bidding & securing those bids along with operations.

CURT (Construction Users Roundtable) and CII (Construction Industry Institute) have formed Prairie Dog.

Prairie Dog’s mission is to implement OS2 for all construction related activities for everyday use ASAP. This new operating system is being beta tested now on construction sites to work the kinks out. Given when and where OS2 started, ASAP is apropos – it is NOW!

Biden cannot help the BT once OS2 is up and running. A great pro-labor NLRB will also not help the trades. Massive amounts of long overdue infrastructure will not only not help the trades, but it will also actually work against the trades because it will prime the pump of deal flows to get to maximum effectiveness of OS2 ASAP!

The new OS2 system eliminates the entire current structure of how construction jobs are bid and constructed today. ELIMINATES, another apropos term for this impending transition. OS2 is NOT to be confused with something like Lean IPD, which attempts to fix the existing framework of junk that construction management uses now. That is akin to putting a turbo engine in a Pinto – it still is a Pinto! Plan the work and work the plan pyramid style of construction management (left side of picture above) has never worked, although management has gotten away with it until now.

So, what has changed? Construction is ripe for disruptors to swoop in and revamp the entire industry. Also, the markets hate the returns, or lack thereof, of construction companies. When Snapchat has a valuation of 3x that of Fluor Construction, the largest construction firm in the world – that is a big deal!

OS2 uses a “flat,” “thin” or “blockchain” format for bidding & operations (see the right side of the picture above). ALL those operations will be done in approximately 2 – 3 DAYS! The old pyramid style (left side of picture) takes approximately 3 to 14 months minimum and a huge number of meetings to complete. You may want to take note of the huge difference between today’s transactional costs of approximately 40% and those in the near future with blockchain via OS2 at approximately 4%. Rank & File workers will be confronted with the effects of OS2 soon, learning the fuller meaning of modularization and even miniaturization – plug & play to the max! As a result, R&F will see dramatic reductions in hours to do a job or work an outage, etc.

One of the many goals of OS2, per Prairie Dog, is the reduction of more than half of ALL field labor and the hours needed for that work. And for the bulk of work not eliminated by OS2, most will be done with semi-skilled labor.  

So, those posts about skill shortages and the need for more trade schools with catchy phrases like “high performance trades” will diminish to next to nothing according to the stated goals for what OS2 can deliver. Value on Display has ignored the reality of OS2. VOD has been a loser from day 1 and in the upcoming environment of OS2 it will exacerbate this losing proposition. Think about it – who do you sell to with a 2 – 3-day blockchain platform?

As for the senior international leaders – they know about this and the pending reality of its impact on the viability of BT unions, particularly with regard to the impact on hours and pensions.

Included in the current $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is multiemployer pension “relief” in the form of grants (bailouts) from the Treasury Department. With the implementation of OS2 and the sheer reduction in hours going forward, this will place even solid pension plans in underfunded status soon. And treasury grants will last only as long as the D’s have control of all 3 chambers of government. Real leaders who understand this bailout is a short-term “fix”, and also are coming up to speed about what OS2 means to the trades, know that pensions can move to a cash balance pension plan – as in now! This is not a flippant comment – it is reality!

It is highly unlikely that management will be a party to a defined benefit going forward on jobs in the era of OS2!  

Are our senior leaders really this clueless on the direction created by OS2 when we are facing a modern-day Titanic?

Labor Rising has been instructing on this inevitable development for nearly 12 years, which is why our curriculum focuses on going after the wallet of the top tier construction users & managers and dealing ourselves in. From day 1, Labor Rising has instructed to go after clients, credit, and social footprint (perception) of construction’s senior decision makers. Top senior BT leaders have fought this Labor Rising strategy and likely will be the generation of BT leaders who go down without a fight – a sideshow to the history of labor in the Building Trades. With the help of super smart people, Labor Rising has been working to dig behind the scenes of specifically how deep OS2 will deliver. Right now, it looks awfully bad. Think of that 1,000-bed hospital in China build in approx. 10 days type of construction delivery.

By comparison, every other modern sector of known commerce in North America is using OS3 & OS4!

This is a primer. We continue to conduct in-depth research and specifics of our findings will follow soon with real world solutions. In the meantime, here is some homework for true leaders: Look up Prairie Dog and learn what exactly it is doing and who Data Gumbo Corporation is.

“if you see a good fight, get in it – hope it isn’t too late!”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Biden Win + Value on Display = Loss of Market Share

Our Building Trades International Presidents are part of the Biden Transition team once President Elect Biden becomes President Biden.

Perhaps in another era this would be a good thing – but not in today’s environment. Why? Because they bring nothing to the table except need after need. These IPs play the victim game, looking for “someone/anyone” to solve issues they and their predecessors had a strong hand in creating. With the “strategy” of Value on Display being front and center for decades, the issues listed below have steadily gotten worse as BT senior leaders keep “kicking the can down the road”. No plan, no sustained actions, no follow through. The LM-2’s lay out the pitiful amount of money used to fight these issues in the courts and in the world of public opinion. And as if that is not enough bad news, there has been next to zero coordinated field protests and job actions on a sustained basis to demonstrate “skin in the game”. Skin in the game would be the power of workers in the field displaying concerted activities to secure workers’ rights. Feel free to use the comment bar below to show ANY actions missed – have at it!

The trades need pension help – aka bail outs, NLRB reform, wage and hour reform, Davis – Bacon reform, prevailing wage help, OSHA reform and more – get the picture?

Typically, a stroke of a leader’s pen is far more potent to get things done. However, even with President Biden’s executive power, and hopefully congressional help, not much will fall in line for the trades in the next 4 years. Infrastructure will work against the trades – not for us. More in upcoming blogs.

Biden is a seasoned politician and certainly not stupid. He will give the trades exactly what they can deliver to him – NOTHING!

The trades HAVE NOT earned the ability to demand anything. They have coasted and sat on the sidelines for decades. Huge numbers of trades members are Trump guys, not R’s. And, by the way, Trump followers and R’s are not and have not been one in the same for years now. You can show these Trumpian guys the paper ballot we all used in voting and which backs up the electronic version to nearly a perfect match. You can show these guys every variation of state political law and counting mechanisms that have survived as close to 100% of challenges in every type of courts in the U.S. No one wants them or any voter to embrace a candidate they did not support; however, to continue to perpetuate voter fraud conspiracies in an environment of zero proof makes these Trumpian guys unfit to live in a democracy and be part of a labor MOVEMENT. And they want neither. They want an America for white people and a specific religious belief. They will trade an authoritarian/fascist leader to achieve that end and subvert the constitution if it is in the way. Apparently, the Crusades have never stopped and add to that the confederacy!

As for this group of Trumpians BEING dangerous – not this group of crusaders! They are cowards and posers almost to a person. They liken themselves to the Patriots with a capital P that formed our country. WTF – are you kidding me? Our founding fathers and mothers risked and lost their lives, property, and everything they had to stand against the British rule. Everything!  

These Coward Boys like to parade around with their weapons and threaten people behind the veil of secrecy. If push comes to shove, they will not put their jacked-up trucks, Harleys and toys at risk. They know they are protected by the very media they say they hate when out and about posing for photo opts. Trump, like the coward in charge he is, wants them and others to spark unrest and fear on HIS behalf. Not America – HIS behalf! Pick any leader, great or cult lead. From Washington to Koresh – they led from the front! Trump picked the Kardashians of the crusaders. Designer militias with the latest in camo and guns – a major flaw in his grand scheme. If you the reader have ANY street smarts you know bullies when you see them. The clear majority of these guys are posers and not bullies per se. There is a big difference between them. (Now the Black Water people that Trump pardoned are a different story. This is a mix of ex-military that run the spectrum of excellent and not so excellent soldiers aka sketchy MF. They can get away with murder. Paid many times more than a typical solider and/or Marine. I would keep my eye on any guy who goes around picking a fight for money. Is there enough of them to sow unrest in the future? My bet is on U.S. military every time. In the next day or 2 it may very well come down to our military leaders saying NO to our president). 

Back to the coward boys and posers (tin soldiers) – they are like most guys (not women) in the gym these days. They hit the arms and chest for show – times a million sets. Few hit the squat rack or do pulls and deadlifts anywhere near correct, if at all. Why? Because that requires work and discipline along with knowledge of the anatomy. My personal favorites are the guys who load the leg press machine with every 45 lb. plate they can use and then unlock the safety, move the sled 3 inches, and think they are bad ass and claim 800 lb. squats. They genuinely think they are! Then they load their skinny asses with their big arms into their trucks/jeeps with their punisher decals et al and demonstrate how tough they are. All show and no go to use an old adage!

Value on Display is exactly why these MEN and a few Karens exist in the trades. We in the trades have always been both R’s & D’s – but NEVER weak men & women being told what to do by anyone! We used to question ALL leaders and held them to a standard that then earned them their right to lead. That has not been the case for the last 5 decades and counting.

When authority is total, so too is the madness of the man who declares it, and the abuse of power that follows.

And it appears that our senior leaders understand this. The world they live in is awfully bad for workers, union or not on their watch. The Building Trades have NOT been a democracy for many decades and Value on Display has made it even worse!  

Meanwhile while our senior leaders sit in meetings and enjoy the sounds of their own voices, anti/non-union forces will play hardball in a way not seen to date. Anti/non-union forces love the catch-phrases of collaboration used by the trades, all the while extracting concession after concession over decades. Going forward management will shove the words of collaboration right down the senior leaders’ throats, which will then result in the demise of the trades on their watch as we know them! It has been happening for 5 decades!

We are facing the ripe environment for management to put down the trades. By and large, unions outside of the BT will expand; but the trades will continue to be no more than a temp agency. And, based on all available evidence, we at Labor Rising do not think that ALEC, RTW, Heritage Foundation, ABC, CURT, et al, will NOT even want a temp agency to survive.

The senior leaders continue to think skills are what the construction world wants. Value on Display has demonstrated unequivocally that skills are NOT what raise market share much less the standard of workers lives. The additional unintended consequence has been, at a minimum, two generations of individual tradesmen that absolutely think their skills are at the center of the building universe. Think arms and chest with a hoodie in the gym and you get the picture! Or check out all the bad ass stuff for sale by the trades. We look smashing but cannot organize a sock drawer! The members are not bad people. They are taught within the trades current 5-decade old culture to admire skills and hype them. They have zero idea how to band together and fight a fight much bigger than an individual can wage. They have to be shown what they can accomplish as a group and actions that will live beyond them and for there families yet unborn – kind of dramatic but true.  

And our IP’s WILL NOT lead by example in the trenches – WILL NOT! They by design let the “organizers” run around and throw up the rat and talk to workers to recruit them. In a few instances even run a bottom-up campaign. BS by design. Keep you busy and out of the way.

The IP’s will not take on management – their clients, their credit, their customers, their perception and go toe to toe until they have secured a CBA. They will not grab any company by the wallet – no matter how anti/non-union they are and impose a union on them or put them out of business.

Management will – and that day is here – the non-union does approx. 90% of all construction – not that hard to put us down and we have the exact right leaders to lose with!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Will any International VP Fall Out of Line? Hell No! So Then What…

…. elect one not chosen by the status quo as next in line!

You are organizers – mostly ex-organizers. As you built out your respective markets & Compression Zones, every one of you know what kind of pushback you received when you tried to implement the actions required to win. You know how intermediate and higher-level regional organizers, all the way to the top Director of Organizing & senior leaders, squelched your efforts.

You heard phrases from senior leaders like: “We have our own organizing program that we follow”. “We market and recruit to win the ‘confidence & business’ of management”. “The trades collaborate to show how our skills can win the day”. All of this despite the construction market becoming a “race to the bottom” in wages, benefits and conditions – thanks to the failed Value on Display strategy.

Labor Rising would go away in a heartbeat “IF” the trade(s) would start winning market share again. But they have been losing numbers in the best 4 years of record construction spending in history & over 5 decades in total, even factoring in technology advances in construction delivery.

Meanwhile, back to the subject at hand – finding a vice-president falling out of line with the losing ways of ALL our internationals! Most likely, that is NOT happening – so….

Elect a Vice-President who is backed by rank & file organizers and field tradespersons. Overwhelming sentiment of those organizers who have attended Labor Rising classes is that our own Internationals are the biggest obstacles to winning again. This is spoken about openly, with the exception of when senior leaders are around. Because we all know that no one can move up the food chain if they publicly criticize leadership.

Every trade has weak links in their senior VP lineup – mostly from small locals and/or due to nepotism and favoritism. So, take one on. That is organizing at its best!

Labor Rising just happens to have approximately 1,000 names of mostly current, and some fired/quit/retired, organizers across all trades who, if they work to ELECT a VP in their own respective trade, would have an excellent chance of winning that VP position. Labor Rising’s training has crossed the U.S., with every trade, including some in Canada. Our least experience is with Laborers and Carpenters, two organizations that also happen to have lost a league leading amount of market share in the last 2 decades. Check out their LM-2’s.

Labor Rising has started connecting labor activist and will continue to do so across most trades. This is your time young labor activist – lead or get out of the way. It is your time – carpe diem!

Most of those who we have trained are no nonsense MOVEMENT-driven ORGANIZERS. The kind who will feel quite comfortable when they meet the FOUNDERS on the big job in the sky.

Almost to a person, these organizers understand that advancing a MOVEMENT means that they themselves WILL NOT see the benefits of the changes they create with activism!

They (the infamous they) individually know first-hand what our blogs speak to – a failed business trade “UNION” that is a failure and continues to fail. Organize around a single well-chosen voice of activism that speaks plainly about grabbing the wallet of business – until management is forced to share the wealth they derive from the labor of workers, union or not!

Of course, any VP elected through such an activist, MOVEMENT-driven campaign will be one of the best paid senior officials who gets banished off to Siberia (so to speak). Not to worry, as long as they remain in their positions, they have constitutional powers and social media platforms to drive change.

Labor Rising has ALWAYS known that our program would separate wannabe political climbers from true trade union activists. Unfortunately, we also knew we have to change our own trade organizations before we can successfully take on the anti/non-union.

Labor Rising has watched the new crop of International Presidents fall inline with generations of the failed Value on Display mentality/strategy. These fairly newly minted IP’s were chosen because they fell in line. They WILL NOT change their stripes unless they are forced to do so!

The most promising IP boss is at the UA. Hopefully, they take the bottom-up approach and go for the wallet of the end-user, developer & CM. The least promising is a collection of IP’s – but as of this blog I got to go with SMART. The Director of Organizing has zero background in ANY TYPE of organizing. WOW!

The Labor Rising alumni are organizers and NOT politicians; however, a few need to become quasi- politicians backed by organizers and field workers in order to advance the trades as champions of workers – not businesses!

This is well within your reach.

A true story – Back in 1996 at my first convention, our International President was well on his way to becoming a convicted felon on charges related to mismanagement of his responsibilities as IP, yet he still ran for re-election at the convention. No shame in his game – think Trump, and you have the mindset of the then IP. And yet, no one said a word. Over 1,000 convention delegates and 3 other delegates expressed doubts in the capabilities of the IP, but no one opposed him.

During the election, the IP sought and got a motion for unanimous consent of his re-election. In my opinion, a majority would have been OK, and I could have lived with that. But unanimous consent!?! So, I rose to object; however, all microphones and lights were turned off at the delegate speakers’ podium and the balloons were dropped on the victorious election of the IP and his cast of characters.

I raised a point of order, as I did not have a chance to register my objection to unanimous consent, and all hell broke loose. My point is that most delegates from that point on attended all of the committee meetings. Hundreds of delegates were waiting to speak on resolutions to be voted on in the following days. Several resolutions that had been approved by the committees got voted down, including raises, per diems, conditions, travel, convention pay and several more.

As is the case with the trades, the delegates got their convention pay early and conventional wisdom would expect they would be off gambling and partying. But no sir – they waited in long lines to speak against committee-approved resolutions and won their case on many of them on the floor.

This story is chronicled in the Iron Workers 1996 convention magazine issue verbatim. Our trade, as well as many others, showed signs of life back then and that is the closest the trades have gotten to activism in the trenches in the last 5 decades or so.

Enter the early beginning of what we now call Value on Display. So, the trades go from next to zero activism to selling out to management and a non-stop decline in market share and concessionary give backs across the trades.

I predict that one of four options are going to happen: 1) The trades become a permanent temp agency providing next to zero representation of members; 2) An entirely new trades union emerges along side of the existing business model. With approximately 90% of the market already non-union, this is the most likely and viable result – a contemporary 21st century MOVEMENT of workers. Think this is sci-fi? Read the big forums on social media with over 100,000 tradespersons on a couple of them. They talk exactly like us from the standpoint of conditions, wages & benefits. They have wobbled more jobs than union trades. They also want NOTHING to do with us. The trades have sent many status quo quasi organizers from the respective trade to talk to the non-union – all slick talkers from the trades have been sent packing; 3) We die from the sheer BS of being a business-oriented union in an era of growing activism throughout North America in every other sector; or 4) We elect an activist VP and force change. Read your constitution and cut-off the Internationals’ power everywhere you can. There are several ways to do this. More about that in upcoming blogs.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Labor Rising

Hey International Vice-Presidents – Time to Fall Out of Line –

Note: this blog may be disjointed to many and covers a huge amount of info in 1,500 words. Our blogs are for hard core organizers and activists’ members.

The future of the trades, by and large, rests with you. The General Executive Councils (GEC) of the respective trades have the power to change the trajectory of the 14 Internationals. Of course, those breaking with the IP’s will be banished off to Siberia (think Trump and how he handles disloyalty); however, you may have gotten yourself into this position by being a “YES” person over the decades in order to get where you are!

The GEC is “charged” with formulating organizing plans and policies – “charged”, mind you. So that being the case, why are we losing? A big reason for losing is that many (all?) Executive VPs spend a career working on how to get into the leadership hierarchy and then cementing where they fall in that hierarchy. That leaves next to zero time to organize in the field. When has anyone seen an EVP or general officer on a picket? Loyalty is a solid character trait; however, loyalty to a fault, and more specifically to a person, makes you blind to the shortcomings of that person. Welcome to the cult of trades leadership for over 5 decades. The economic harm done as a result to mindset based on loyalty-to-a-fault to “a” specific General President is measurable and sustained!

Labor Rising got into a lot of trouble using Winston Churchill as an example in our last blog. But we view the response as “good trouble” because Churchill was a POS right up until the time, he stood up to world fascism.

While our 14 trade IPs are not that bad, using the failed strategy of Value on Display (VOD) for decades has undermined workers throughout all of North America and beyond.

My point in this blog is that events can take us all in many different directions. Circumstances change. In the trades, we can continue to choose to fail with VOD. Conversely, we can lay down a modern foundation for a reinterpretation of the trades labor MOVEMENT!

VOD has replaced a once vibrant middle-class tradesperson with a working-class tradesperson. It has politically polarized members through division into those with a philosophy of skills-based individual tradespersons vs. a collective greater good MOVEMENT of workers.

The trades are no longer each other’s keeper – we are “individuals on a job selling skills to a customer.”

With the trades’ senior leadership dedicated to that end alone, any talk (and that is what it is) of unionism and activism in the streets is, and has been for decades, pure BS!

The trades have always been the “red-headed stepchild” of labor. We are typically more centralist than our more progressive and liberal wings.

The trades are known to involve extensive travel to all parts of North America to secure work. Mark Twain’s famous adage of “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” has been turned upside down because of Value on Display.

“IF” the trades were a MOVEMENT of worker activism, then travel would foster what Brother Twain said! However, because VOD sells skills to customers competing for dwindling crumbs and jobs from management with an individual tradesperson mindset of “I” have got to get mine – many issues have taken hold, e.g., intertrades jurisdictional issues, extensive non-union issues, immigration issues, women in the trades & people of color in the trade’s issues!

VOD has taken everyone of those issues above into the political & individual realm. So, workers’ justification is, “I am SKILLED so look at me. The ‘union’ – ‘my union’ keeps giving all that supports the middle class away, but management wants ME! I am saving the trades.”

As a result, bread & butter, equity, equality, racial & gender issues and more, have gone backwards with the strategy of VOD, which sells skills of an individual akin to a temp agency to customers!

How do we know this? Well the first 9 organizers who started Labor Combat/Labor Rising researched the trades’ strategies and inner decisions from 1969 on. That work was done from 2007 thru 2012. We are confident we have most of the confidential internal documents of consultants, internationals and many affiliates used from then till now. The research of Labor Rising produced a 474-page single spaced White Paper in 2012. And we have built upon it with 822 trained organizers to date from 378 locals/DCs across all of North America. We have a small stadium of bodies from whom we learn. We also know where the “bodies are buried” related to political advancement.

From 1990 till 1999, when I and others taught in apprenticeship programs, few trades had a labor history component in those classes, so we had to build one from scratch. Even fewer trades unions have one today.

Of course, labor history is not enough. Every member needs to have a connection to field organizing and street theater. We know that disenfranchised members, and even worse those that who work 2,000+ hours seldom – if ever – go to a union meeting. Not being connected to how you put food on the table is central to our losing.

The workers’ MOVEMENT of our Founders took every type of worker that was delivered to America’s doorstep from across the world and created the middle class. Our trades’ Founders took on the worse that corporations could throw at them and did not just survive – they advanced workers, non-union and union alike.

With the epic failure of trades’ business unionism and Value on Display, the trades have continually gone backwards. At the core is tradespersons who think they are the center of the trades’ universe. Just look at Facebook for example. Huge numbers of predominantly union tradesMEN hate people of color, women in the trades, non-union workers, immigrants, vote against union interest and even hate their own union! Value on Display at its worst has helped fostered this hate.

I specifically remember the Fight for $15 minimum wage in Chicago in 2012. Members of my local and I joined several protests. Back then, and still today, union tradespersons beat down workers they believe are not skilled, so not deserving of that kind of money. WOW! Talk about entitled.

Value on Display has created the deep divisions between workers in the trades & outside of the trades.

President Elect Biden will perhaps get Bernie Sanders and/or Sara Nelson as Labor Secretary. CIO and professional unions will improve numbers with a friendly Labor Secretary. Why? Because they know how to organize and how to adapt to the changing nature of working with workers. They have activists that pull in the same direction.

The trades have long abandoned organizing workers in the trenches. The little that is done is top-down – a loser by the numbers, and even worse is bottom-up. Bottom-up does not work in enough number to raise market share in the trades because of several major factors. The top factor is the ever-changing dynamics of the make up of the work force, employees, independent contractors, temp employees, part-time & cash to name a few. Bottom-up is for fixed populations – not transient groups.

The average otherwise solid organizer we encounter in training has little understanding of market formatting, SIC/NAICS codes, Excel, cloud sharing, credit reports, what a salt vs. pepper is, labor law as it relates to recognition & secondary law, hiring law and how to handle an underfunded pension discussion – just to name a few important considerations.

It is not the member organizers that fail – it is the BS and diluted training they receive. They are recruiters by design. Even if the internationals just concentrated on top-down, those “marketers” would have to know most of the above skill sets. They DO NOT by design!

Organizers in the trades must know how to go after the “wallet” of the senior most decision makers with regards to construction – senior most, not the sub. They have to understand a Compression Zone, which considers contraction & consolidation of the industry due to technology, along with the sheer number of roll-ups taking place. Without knowing the items in the last 2 paragraphs, the trades’ organizers, and the trades themselves will keep losing – even with friendly help in legislation.

Our Founders NEVER waited on friendly and/or unfriendly legislation. They never blamed anyone and knew it was on them to organize workers and impose a Collective Bargaining Agreement on the owners, regardless if they wanted one or not!  

EVERYONE knows the trades and its members are fractured along political and skill lines – management, government, politicians, AFL-CIO and our own senior leaders. We have zero power to deliver on any promise and/or threat.

It appears that the 14 International Presidents think they have a pro-labor friend entering the White House. What we feel is they clearly DO NOT have the infrastructure to improve market share without a wholesale change in strategy. With time being short, it is on the General Executive Councils to “man up” and kick start this puppy! Circumstances are changing – are you going to step into battle or drift into obscurity?

Labor Rising has told the NABTU several times in private to put Labor Rising anywhere in North America and WE will organize it – anywhere. Come on, make us put up or shut up! You have a few hundred true organizers that are ready – cut them loose!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

“… the end of the beginning”

“It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” ~ Winston Churchill WW II

Election Day is tomorrow and if anyone thinks the issue of national & state leadership will be settled – well snap out of it because it will not!

Thanks to a complete lack of activism in the streets for at least 5 decades, the trades are at the end of the Founders’ “beginning.” For the past 2 ½ decades, this is on the shoulders of the completely failed Value on Display “strategy” adopted by senior leadership to sell skills to customers.

If Trump wins, we can say goodbye to the trades as a free and independent movement for a time. Right to work, Davis–Bacon, prevailing wages, Project Labor Agreements, tort reform, National Labor Relations Board and pensions will ALL be on the chopping block – case closed!

It is in the strangest of worlds that union tradespersons will vote for a candidate who will annihilate the bread & butter issues that support their very own families’ current lifestyle and retirement future. No hyperbole what-so-ever – your pension WIL BE forfeit! However, that is where we are at today.

Value on Display has absolutely contributed to that schism. It is truly clear from social media posts (and our Labor Rising direct experience) that many, if not most, tradespersons believe that it is their skills that command the wages and benefits they receive. This is noticeably clear in how they speak. Long lost is the fact that it is the collective bargaining of the UNION that demands their compensation and benefits, not their individual skills. Of course, there is a simple test that these journeypersons can take to understand this – quit your union employer and take all your skills and credentials to the non-union! See how that works for you and your family – much less to the entire middle class of North America!

Value on Display is at the heart of this individualistic thinking and explains, to a large degree, why a union tradesperson votes against their own, their families’ and North America’s quality of life! What we are witnessing is a union of individuals that is divided against itself! Just ask most young tradespersons about non-union workers. Facebook is littered with venom of how the non-union workers are viewed by our large branch of entitled tradespersons! To be fair, they have only been exposed to VOD and know nothing of trench organizing & activism for a greater good. It is all about the TOYS, TATOOS & LOOKING BAD ASS! Just look at the FB pictures.

Bottom-up and recruitment just is not getting it done & it never has. To be fair, these so called “strategies” will not work even with the potential of pro-union legislation if Biden wins. We are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people.  Rather than ask, “What have R’s or D’s done for us?” I challenge each of us to ask the senior trades leaders & ourselves, “What have the trades done to advance workers and workers’ rights for the last 5 decades?”

Sadly, social media is ripe with streams of posts from leaders and members thinking that the trades have the POWER to demand anything from either party and/or management. The numbers of collapsing market share for decades make it absolutely clear that we cannot!  At the core of our declining numbers and strength is the complete abandonment of being a MOVEMENT – no activism, organizing or civil disobedience in the streets for decades, because truth be told the trades are led by impotent leaders who have no power to demand anything. And if we think if can’t get worse with this group of International Presidents – it will.

If Biden wins, the “crab mentality” of the Trumpian party will be in full swing – “if I can’t have it, neither will you.” Unions and the trades will be in a scorched earth pattern from election day through to inauguration day. There will not be a “lame duck” period for R’s should Biden win. They will do everything in their power to hurt workers, pensions and economies so they can capitalize on the devastation 2 & 4 years later. A lot of damage can be done in 2 months! And for those who feel Trump’s administration has been bad, what will be unleashed will be devastation that is much more planned and exacting.

So, the resurgence of COVID, a contested election, likelihood of right-wing violence, holiday stress, the 2% raking in money at the expense of the working class and market volatility – just to name a few elements – will also be in play after election day through inauguration! 

So, Biden is rightfully planning a transition – he sure as hell needs to do so! Tradespersons will be part of it. Good! However, senior trades leaders will likely project an inflated sense of self and begin to demand attention. Although as of now with a fragmented and diminishing membership, they are devoid of any type of power.

So, what can they do? First and foremost, early on they should shut up and put up by delivering on actions and even threats, served up cold. Now’s the time they should be developing a plan for this scenario, including a series of regional and even national strikes against major anti-union construction entities. A plan to reshape the trade MOVEMENT should be in order – selective, concerted actions served up cold and designed to target clients, credit, and perception of the big construction players & end-users. But lo and behold, any such plan is nowhere to be found.

What else? How about shut up and quit meeting with those sectors of construction that ALL have less of a trade presence than even a decade ago! Quit working on jobs alongside of non-union. Quit bailing out jobs when they are done poorly by the non-union and then being showed the door time after time when the trades fix the screw ups!

Biden can only do so much – it is on us to build workers rights’ initiatives and champion “bread & butter” issues. That narrows the R & D divide considerably. It is the antithesis of a Trumpian mindset.

And it will make activists out of our entitled primadonna tradespersons who think only union workers can build. To grow workers’ markets and RAW POWER, we have to organize non-union workers and companies!

Only a return to trench organizing and IMPOSING CBA’s on construction companies can repair our pensions and grow our collective power. Dealing for “hours” has been and will continue to be fatal. It is on the International Presidents to get busy!

Labor Rising has zero confidence they can or will! So, who will?

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Building Trades International Presidents are Hiding in the Back Row –

Just like when we come in late to work, church or any event we duck into the back row, our Building Trades International Presidents continue to hide in the back row of workers’ lives in North American. They “hope and pray” for infrastructure legislation, pension bailouts, a retreat in RTW laws, along with a host of other substantial issues facing workers today and in the years to come.

We are weeks away from potentially an historic election and Supreme Court Rulings; and, past an endorsement and electioneering (which are important), what the hell are the IP’s doing about where labor is positioned? If the past is a prologue for these IP’s – NOTHING more! What our senior leaders define as BOLD INITIATIVES are just hollow words used to sound tough and forward thinking. They are not!

The IP’s put window dressing around racial issues. They fire off a circular letter and run some boilerplate racial equity BS in the trades’ respective magazines. Past that, can anyone please let Labor Rising know of ANY pro-active, in-the-trenches actions of our senior leaders? Pictures would help – be it of a strike (economic or social), a legal and lawful protest on the streets, opinion pieces of substance in print taking a definitive position that addresses workers’ economic inequity for decades. And then, backing it up with sustainable actions – which BTW requires a PLAN!

The death of the Building Trades MOVEMENT happened decades ago, relieving our senior leaders of any commitment to economic and social justice. And not so coincidentally – within the exact time frame that Value on Display has been the STRATEGY of the trades. 

Can even one International President claim a life dedicated to the mission of labor as measured by any of our Founders? Outside of the trades, great people continue to lead with lifetime commitments of action. RIP RBG, John Lewis, Delores Huerta, Robert White (Canada) and many others (outside of the trades) doing the work of advancing workers, WITHOUT any help from the trades! 

The Trades’ senior leaders just do not want to fight. “Good Trouble” is so foreign to them – they will hide in the back row and see how it all turns out.

Recruiting a non-union worker is OK, although not much more than a short-term band-aid. The trades are rift with band-aids. Contrast that with the underlying ability for workers to join a union and imposing a CBA on their employers. Earning that right is the “gold ring” of trade activism. The first gets the trades nowhere, hence why retention in the trades is at and under 1:1. And, the latter requires actions far beyond what those in leadership have been doing. No heart – that is what we call that in the field. Rationalization at its most pronounced level with every reason to fail. Hiding from the oath and commitment taken as an apprentice right up thru their swearing-in as senior leaders.

When Roosevelt passed the Wagner Act in 1935 the trades senior leadership were ready to push union organizing. They hit the ground running and made substantial gains. How substantial? The result is what we call the middle class. Even if Biden wins and he can get legislative HELP for organizing, the trades are going nowhere. The trades cannot react and start anew then and there. Well they could, but they will not be effective. The organizers in the field who know how to correctly format the market for organizing (not selling) likely came thru the Labor Rising training, and if given the chance, will be effective in winning market share! It is a “night & day” difference today from how the trades were poised in the 30’s to leverage pro-labor legislation!

If Trump wins, labor will be classed as terrorist organizations if they do not conform to his vision. The Patriot Act of 2001 and modified in 2015 has key provisions remaining that can be and/or are hostile to labor. Labor Rising wrote about the Patriot Act three times in the last 8 years in our blogs. Labor has been in this position before in North American history – being treated as enemies of the state. Leaders back then fought thru those days and propelled labor to even higher levels. Our leaders today are not those leaders! Not even close.

With such a complete lack of leadership, the trades will be in the potential position of being controlled or put out of “BUSINESS”. Right now, the betting money is the senior leaders will be collaborative (capitulate) partners to business and an authoritarian style of government or even worse. Trump will also sink the pensions, sign a national RTW law, finish restructuring the NLRB and take many more actions to eliminate free, organized, and independent labor unions. Yet the trades’ senior leaders keep selling training. Boy does this feel like the Titanic as the ship sinks, and the band keeps playing. SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT!

In most Labor Rising organizing trainings we teach the organizers that they HAVE TO run over existing senior leaders. Challenge them at every turn. RESIST and do not wait on the convention which has been scripted! The International Presidents will not change – so force it! The biggest obstacle to the trades winning is the senior leaders!

Vernon Johns’ version of “good trouble” is…

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity,

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

The Ranger Handbook vs Building Trades Academy & Organizing –

Delta Force, Seal Team 6 and MARSOC all have developed and structured battle plans for engagement. They ID friend from foe and understand that today’s ally may be tomorrow’s foe!

Contrast that with the Building Trades (BT), which have tools to sell Value on Display on one axis of market development and bottom-up on the other axis. Tools not strategies! Organizers have next to zero ability to ID the foes from friends on the battlefield of construction past the obvious. Hidden from an organizer’s education and training are the senior decision makers and the $$$ that bankroll the construction.

And then there is recruitment. The capitulation of senior BT leaders for hours. With retention in the trades running at or below 1:1 for the BT net, desperate leaders show how inept they are and wave the “white flag” by having great organizers waste valuable time and resources on yet another band aid approach to securing market share!

Both axes used now for decades are abject losers “NET” for winning market share. Labor Rising has found just 9 BT unions out of 317 trained to date that have developed structured and written organizing strategies – NINE!

The Ranger Handbook (et al) is the opposite of the historical losing streak of the North American Building Trades Union (NABTU). The first is the very definition of structure and discipline while the latter is not. Consider the NABTU website – Organizing per se is not even listed on the main menu. It is quasi-listed under Apprenticeship & Training as a bullet point – The Building Trades Academy (BTA).

Thousands have attended the BTA, which seldom changes or evolves. It offers the same losing classes, by and large, that are taught in an ever-changing environment/battlefield where the BT continues to lose market share. The fractured, splintered and incomplete tools provided lead to losing in the field. Numbers can be manipulated to lie; however, the numbers “NET” from the BT are rock solid losers over decades!

BTA classes knowingly (or unknowingly) foster losing, as it is built into the BTA classes. Few participants even know it until they go back into the field and have no idea what to do the day after BTA classes end. They lose far more times than they win, hence the continuous downward trajectory of market share and density, and yet the BTA continues to teach systemic losing.

The equation is simple and straight forward. Either every trade organizer/market rep across North America and across all trades are clueless in using the tools they’ve been taught at the BTA, or the classes are incomplete and ineffective due to the underlying strategy of Value on Display (VOD) that is interlaced throughout the training. In addition to the chronic losing perpetrated by the VOD tool is bottom-up training. Both are taught and tantamount to sending sheep to slaughter. The organizers/market reps are not the reason why we lose. We lose because of the incomplete tools we pass off as strategies that are core to losing!

NOTE: Please read the complete course descriptions provide on the website.

BTA 101: Strategic Planning –

“This course covers the developing and applying a full strategic plan. Specifically, participants will review basic concepts of research, analysis and strategic planning for construction organizing.”

Reality: The BTA does not cover SIC/NAICS codes in depth, opposition research and how to maximize its use, market formatting in Excel, how to use and read various credit reports, strengths and weaknesses analyses, hiring law and more. Labor Rising has trained hundreds of participants who have been through the BTA organizing sessions. To a person, Labor Rising is asked why if we can teach it well enough for them to use it, why can’t the BTA?

BTA 102: Closing the Deal –

 “This course is intended to help union locals and building trades councils effectively manage their organizing activities and to efficiently use union resources. This course covers the developing and applying a full strategic plan.”

Reality: The BTA trains selling via Value on Display, aka top-down, to the exclusion of organizing with the exception of bottom-up.  VOD/top-down is a TOOL not a strategy.

BTA 103: Getting the Word Out

It is about social media and communications, but I am not even going to quote a section in the description because it is far to touchy feely.

Reality: Until the entire BT and affiliates have a text messaging/communications platform from our Internationals, down to our local unions, we are going nowhere! Developed membership lists need to be used so as not to spam the NABTU memberships. A message to apprentices or retirees is specific by its nature and should only be sent to those who need it. These tailored lists HAVE TO be crafted to be effective as an organization. It is why Ranger groups (et al) win – through effective communications, comprehensive intelligence, preparation & practice, and development of underlying written strategy!  

BTA 104: Campaign Organizing

“This course offers a comprehensive overview of organizing issues related to the construction industry, offering constructive ways to organize the industry, including the value proposition for members, contractors and construction owners.”

Reality: This is all BS. Comprehensive is a gross overstatement. And again, there is a disproportionate emphasis on VOD. See the word “constructive” above? It is the very word that makes VOD a losing program! IMPOSING a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on the construction industry has NOT been viewed as CONSTRUCTIVE by our 14 International Presidents for decades now. If you reply that bottom-up imposes a CBA on management, you are technically correct. Good luck on that. Bottom-up was NOT designed for building trades unions, as it is far too transient with temp employees, 1099’s, cash and a mix of bogies that just keep moving. Additional hurdles include organizers who only last about 2 years in the position and an adversarial NLRB, just to name a few. There are a few locals that have game with bottom-up, but not enough to move the needle in the game of market share. Even they are NOT prevailing “NET”. Bottom-up was designed for fixed campaigns, e.g. a fab shop and the like.

BTA 105: Contract Negotiations

“This course is for union officers and staff members who negotiate labor agreements with their signatory contractors.”

Reality:  Not a bad course based on comments from those who have attended.

BTA 106: Labor Law for the Construction Industry

“Federal labor law provides special provisions applicable to the construction industry because of the unique nature of employment in construction.”

Reality:  Sections 7 & 8 can be effectively taught in about 3 hours. What is completely lacking is a thorough discussion of recognition and secondary boycotts, including what specifically they mean to winning in the field. Replace the losing instruction of how to run a bottom-up campaign with how to get to the wallets of the senior decision makers in construction and the trades will win again. Bottom-up is a tool – not a strategy. It has a place as a tool inside a strategy, but it cannot win in enough numbers as THE strategy. So, it begs the question – what is the written strategy of how to raise market share/density? Where are your locals’/DCs’ Ranger Handbook?

Long ago, a great organizer taught me a valuable lesson: “Put ‘puppet strings’ on the anti/non-union contractors’ hiring, and the trades win.” Yet, 99% of those attending Labor Rising do not have a clue how to use hiring law & the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). So, we recruit and then do nothing more. More would be securing an exit interview from every non-union worker. More would be learning about how the anti/non-union hires and their application process (and BTW, securing ALL relevant info on the anti/non-union employer). More would be attacking their hiring processes or lack thereof in a structured manner. More would be attacking anti/non-union employers and temp agencies both overtly and covertly. More would be to deny those contractors access to workers via the application process, websites, Craigs List, etc., or have them think that they may be hiring union field organizers. Teach this!

BTA 107: Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3): Train-the-Trainer

“This course is required for apprentice instructors, representatives of Building Trades Councils and their affiliates, and/or Council partners who plan to implement the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3). Each prospective program must send at least one representative to this class.”

Reality:  Remember above when Labor Rising said that the trades have “Fractured, splintered and incomplete tools that lead to losing in the field?” This is part and parcel to that comment. There is some really good stuff in this class. However, it has the effect of sending an organizer/market rep in far too many directions. What is the underlying STRATEGY of this, and specifically, not conceptionally, how does it fit into winning?

BTA 108: Business Managers Training

“This class is a management and leadership course for Building Trades local union officers.”

For Labor Rising, this is the litmus test. If a new or old BM buys into the business side of unions after decades of losing, then Labor Rising is NOT for you or your local/DC. Can a movement and business exist side by side? Every single number since the early 70’s resoundingly says NO!! We only work with a union/DC that has a renegade style BM. One that hates losing and does not tolerate it or chalk it up to “it is what it is.”

The principle of Occam’s razor may apply to the BT! That is when all facts are accounted for regarding two explanations, the simpler explanation is more likely to be correct.

Explanation # 1: Perhaps the BT senior leaders alone want to strike deals with senior management in respective sectors of construction with PLAs and specialty agreements of every type as appeasement & concessions to management to keep enough hours coming in to keep their gig. Recruiting, top-down and spin your wheels on bottom-up fits well within that agenda.

Explanation #2: The BT is committed to a hard-core organizing effort to sign a CBA, regardless if contractors want one or not; and to empower organizers with the necessary tools and abilities to raise all workers up & in keeping with our Founders’ vision. In short to be a MOVEMENT of free and independent trade unions. One person one vote!  

What Labor Rising knows is that every time we train a winner to organize, they are thwarted, promoted, reassigned, fired, or told to put door hangers on the non-union workers’ doors to try and recruit them. Hence why Labor Rising only works with those leaders who reside in Explanation #2.

Occam’s razor – it’s a bitch!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

Building Trade Owned and Operated Construction Management Company –

A brief history: Nearly 30 years ago the Milwaukee Building Trades Council put into place a Construction Management Company called CCM (Complete Construction Management). It was designed by Brother Brent Emons to combat the rising use of construction managers then coming into being.

A construction manager’s entire purpose is to reduce costs to the end-user/clients they are working for, along with making a very substantial profit themselves – adding yet another layer to the total cost of the project.

Take a guess where the money comes from to achieve the 2 purposes above. If you guessed union contractors and union wages, hard numbers and facts say you are right! This is a big reason why we continue to have all the specialty agreements along with the increased use of PLAs (Project Labor Agreements).  For decades, the trades have conceded more and more concessions and have continued to lose market share. The strategy of Value on Display ignores this reality completely.

This concept of CCM was nearly 35 years ahead of its time and is still very viable today. In most Building Trades Councils that Labor Rising visits, it is the for-profit construction managers that are squeezing the unions off the jobs acting on behalf of their clients. The “good cop – bad cop” games played between the end-user, developer, construction manager and the general contractor are consistently pitting one union against another, and union vs non-union.

CCM was created by Brent to get union contractors and union workers on the job in Milwaukee. CCM also acted as a PLA for the job long before PLAs were around and provided craft integrity and jurisdictional resolution. It would be the construction manager of choice for any union pension-funded jobs. Many real estate managers take union pension funds and build quite a few projects with non-union. That has been going on for decades. CCM would be a force to bid public and private funded jobs of all types. It was fully implemented, up and running and hated by the for-profit construction managers.

CCM was in the “black” by its third year. It sent a clear and powerful message to the construction managers then coming into business and their clients. 35 years ago much of the construction was performed union in Milwaukee – so a deal was made to suspend CCM, because it truly would compete with for-profit Construction Managers on just too many jobs with which unions had a relationship.

Jump ahead 35 years and few relationships exist, and ALL that do are driven by $$$$ – hence all the concessions, which BTW we are still losing on!

If the Building Trades leadership resurrected this strategy for areas that could use it, the for-profit construction managers’ business model and profit margins would be in jeopardy. This matters, because the for-profit construction managers represent a big part of the cost of the total job cost to the end-user/client! The Building Trades with substantially lower profit margins would become competitive with the for-profits construction managers.

CCM is a for-profit company; however, early on could minimize profits in favor of securing jobs. The medium to large construction managers cannot.                                                                          

The for-profit construction managers are going to hate this; however, in a lot of areas throughout the country this is the only vehicle available to use to get unions on a job NOW! Many other areas need a competitive tool to market unions and their contractors in entire regions and sectors. Value on Display has clearly not been able to dent these markets, much less hold onto former union markets!

This is not theory or “what if.” The documents exist intact to provide the platform to move quickly and decisively to implement CCM in today’s environment. Building Trades Councils and/or national/regional unions can be construction managers if done properly.

It thwarts nearly all anti-union initiatives at all state and federal levels because of its structure! RTW and most of the current anti-union legislation is thwarted and can go to hell!

CCM falls under corporate law and NOT labor law – hopefully, the readers understand this – it is huge!

As profits rise and CCM eliminates non/anti-union competition, many benefits present themselves. Top of the list is that underfunded pensions would be the clear winner with a union owned construction manager. More hours paid at top dollar with little threat to their very existence. Those underfunded pension plans need money and hours asap. Even if all D’s sweep into office in November, at best the pensions get a bailout and not a long-term sustainable solution!

The trades could be a temp agency and dispatch workers for any number of situations.

As to how to fund CCM, look at our current budgets for political activity, labor/management relations, the use of contractors’ crack (aka market recapture funds, won’t need them any longer), representational and market development activities – all which have NOT led to increased market share “net”. All or part of these budgets can be redeployed “if” we develop union construction management entities. Now that is a real value-added concept – a WIN/WIN scenario for all but the non/anti-union construction manager. Someone IS LEAVING the construction world in the upcoming decades – either the trades or the existing for profits construction managers. Senior leaders – Brent Emons and The Milwaukee BT – gave you a way out of this disaster. Can we please quit standing on the RR tracks waiting to get run over!

We have enough contractors, supervisors, workers, funding and clients to do this. Any non-union contractor that would want to bid on jobs would HAVE TO sign a CBA.

The frosting on the cake may be that CURT would be interested in this concept because right now they pay for a dumpster being moved on a job. The paperwork and costs are off the charts to end-users. We could set a negotiated rate far more competitive than what the for-profit construction managers’ CURT uses! And we could pay real packages. This is not pie in the sky – it can happen.

The “sword” cuts in both directions, and what is a dying Building Trades relationship with all industries could flip very dramatically. We have been on CURT’s jobs for decades and know every nook and screw up. If our numbers are well below those of existing construction managers – well, it is all about money and a job done well and on time.

The entire legal framework exists, which is hundreds of legal hours necessary for CCM to be viable – done and still viable per the lawyers who have reviewed them! They are being made available by Brother Emons, through Labor Rising for the last 8 years, to again provide a forceful, real world solution to increased market share before we are dead. The Building Trades at the local, state and national levels can be our own legal construction managers through consortiums of regional and national unions and building trades! Think of the Gulf States with a Building Trades CCM and many other parts of the U.S. The lawyers would have to chime in on whether or not this can be done in Canada.

Why are 14 International Presidents & the President of NABTU still refusing to do this even in heavy non and anti-union areas and industries? What the hell is going on? They keep saying they want to do something BOLD & GAME CHANGING – well here it is!

The CCM document includes:

A complete Business Plan. Statement of Purpose. Business Philosophy. Policy & Goals. Overview of the Business. Operations. Timetable & Funding. Competition. Promotion Strategy. Management of Company. Organizational Chart. Strengths & Weaknesses. Complete Market Survey of Target Area. 5 Year Budget.

Thank you, Brother Emons, for the vision.

The Articles of Incorporation are completely done and living.

It is a potent weapon for those Building Trades Councils aggressive enough to pursue it, with minimal downside risk.

Articles of Incorporation –!4091&authkey=!AOLovtNorbitcQ0&ithint=file%2cpdf    

 Business Plan of CCM –!4095&authkey=!AC5adMs3LjYq448&ithint=file%2cpdf   

 Bylaws of CCM –!4096&authkey=!AH1pjd4PrdA50II&ithint=file%2cpdf       

Shareholders Meeting of CCM –!4093&authkey=!AHd1LEVzccM0_Bw&ithint=file%2cpdf  

Meeting Notes of CCM #1 –!4097&authkey=!AK4LcK9Whc4I2ec&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #2 –!4094&authkey=!APLnoyRadbraz7g&ithint=file%2cpdf   

Meeting Notes of CCM #3 –!4092&authkey=!AGDOJj0T-UAEmfk&ithint=file%2cpdf

Share with Building Trades leaders in your area & state. You may have to cut & paste links.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat