Labor Rising Logo
Call (630) 373-0774

Consolidation Contraction & Roll-ups – Organizing Part 9 –

As we all know, Value on Display (VOD) as a strategy to improve market share has proven to be a disaster. Every number that can be measured over decades clearly indicates this.

VOD has several major weaknesses. Let’s discuss one of the major ones.

Consolidation, contraction & roll-ups of companies and contractors. For the last couple of decades contractors have been consolidating in total numbers, contracting in total hours needed to do a job and being rolled-up by bigger regional/national companies/contractors for their book of business. According to business experts, if contractors aren’t in the top tier of competitive spots, they will not have enough market to support work, so they look or will be merged, dissolved or sold off in parts. Markets like industrial, maintenance, new construction, etc., are all consolidating, contracting & being rolled-up.

This is a big deal because the trades should be putting their thumbs on the scale to influence which contractors survive to the next round and which lapse into history – from the largest national CMs down to the local subcontracting markets. We have left the companies/contractors to their own devices in this regard – even though every number says this is at our own demise.

With VOD we talk to everyone in the world of construction oblivious to measurable facts that they are using union trades less & less. Setting aside the legal jeopardy of recognition and secondary activities, this is a stupid business plan. As an example, if you reverse engineer who are the top-players in the construction management for fee firms – the numbers clearly are trending in the non- and even anti-union direction. Same for all levels of construction services provided – NET!

Here is a link to the ENR Top 100 list of construction managers for fee.  VOD is spread far too thin in talking to all the players in this group along with all the significant GCs and subs regionally and nationally. If the trades do their homework, we could distill this list of CMs and other sectors down to those companies/contractors that are likely to use or who do NOT use union labor on their jobs. Much of the homework will lead to the bigger companies in the “pinch point” – the CURT represented contractors. Since every number that can be measured clearly demonstrates that CURT is the primary problem, why do we talk to those reps? The notion of “we have to” is crazy! They use the info we provide them in a so-called collaborative way, and over decades AGAINST THE TRADES! Box them out – keep them in the dark. Create UNCERTAINTY in the CURT ranks. Uncertainty is a killer in the world of construction – capitalize on it and perfect it.

If you, as labor, doubt this, here is a test for you. Go to the next round of labor/management/tripartite style meetings with companies that are using more and more non-union, or those entities that have you sign PLAs, so the trades are prohibited from organizing other sites or jobs. Be polite and professional; however, do not answer question after question on the very important matters to management – pertaining to the job. Use weasel words like “I’ll get back to you” – “let me study it” – “we hear your concerns”, etc. Leave and keep them hanging. They will get very agitated. HOWEVER, the trades can only do this when they have several layers/punches of strategy to deliver to those CURT contractors both on and OFF the job. Don’t put the cart before the horse!

UNCERTAINTY – it is an albatross to CURT and all stripes of contractor associations. They need to remove uncertainty in how the job will proceed for their respective clients/customers to the highest degree possible. Doing so is worth a lot of money to them! No bluffing on this, do your homework and develop strategies for a given contractor/market in writing. Quit being chumps under the guise of collaboration! For the markets that have demonstrated that they are trending away from the trades, ask yourself, “Why are we complicit with helping those entities at our own destruction?”

Promoting companies/contractors that use union trades or are trending in that direction, and exclusively them, puts our thumb on the scales in a dramatic way. As contractor’s roll-up and contract into a smaller nucleus core of contractors, the trades should facilitate who we work with and why – and why can’t just be to get hours. That has been a disaster. It is not a long-term sustainable strategy. We know the history and sentiments of the contractors and need to act on it. This is measurable.

Our plan should focus on eliminating and/or severely curtailing the business plan and profits of any company/contractor that is blatantly anti- and even trending to non-union. AND – quit meeting with their representatives. Let them use intermediaries – like our own contractors and others to get information to us.

In bid packages – a CM that is anti-union or trending that way also uses a GC and subs that are likewise non-/anti-union. An entire rats nest and we continue to talk to them. We in the trades are working against our own best interest.

Up and down the spectrum of the contractors’ chain, we as trades need to penalize the anti-union entities both ON and OFF the job. To the extent possible, the trades need to work hard to penalize the senior-most decision makers in the chain. Grab them hard by the wallet – go after their clients, credit and social footprint, or the perception they would like to present to the world! We don’t need to lie or spin it. As bad actors, their own skeletons in their closets will do them in. But you must know how to stay out of the legal jeopardy to bring this into the clients’/customers’/publics’ awareness!

This is exactly what Labor Rising and Labor Combat instructs on. The “Compression Zone(s)” is a sector of the total market broken down into who we will and will not work with and who we will penalize in every way possible ON and OFF the job. We will put forth a strategy to impact their business plans and limit their growth – and in the best-case scenario, put them out of business. Hell, our Founders would do that in a heartbeat when they could. Companies do it to each other daily. Why do our trades’ senior leaders continue to work with anti-union contractors/customers when every number show doing so is a loser! The trades are working with CLCC in Canada and in the U.S. – our own homegrown anti-union entities are on the jobs alongside of us!

Why are we always cleaning up the anti-/non-unions screw ups on the job? Quit it! The nonsense that we can show the “client” of the anti-/non-union contractor how good we are has been ludicrous for decades. Let the non-/anti-union contractors/companies and their clients get hammered in delays, cost over-runs and liquidated damages. Put the “client” in the position to hire a manager that gets it done right the next time. Why do the trades keep getting played more and more and hired only to do the most technical aspects of the job? We are training the non-union in every aspect of how to do it on future jobs! The numbers are crystal clear on this. Snap the f@#* out of it! This is entirely measurable in all environments and economic conditions.

In the upcoming Labor Rising Organizing Blogs, we will instruct on how to develop a union’s, district council’s and international’s Compression Zone(s). Specifically, who to work with (almost entirely our union contractors) and enhance that ability far past concessions so they are “competitive”. This is the race to the bottom which the trades are leading – we are becoming nothing more than a temp agency. Our contractors want raised market share with solid labor rates. Conversely the trades want to know who to cripple and to wreck their existing business plan – to limit their growth – so, anti-union and strong non-union contractors. And, who is on the bubble – which will be most contractors (NET) across North America and mostly made up of non-union contractors.

When the trades can eject the bad boy contractors and/or be a junk yard dog to their business plan and profits, some may come around. However, most will die and that opens significant market share for our union contractors and tradespersons. It is a valid business reason for some of the non-union filling that void of collapsed contractors to sign a CBA. More market share at stable labor rates and training; and, of course, the trades not going after their business model in a negative way.

Someone in the next decade is going to be the net loser. Right now, all bets are that it is the unionized trades sector. And with using VOD as the current strategy, it’s not a bad bet. Or it can be the anti-union and non-union contractors. Pick a side International Presidents. Will we promote a strong middle class again or a class of working poor? This is going to happen on your watch – the millennials want an authentic Labor MOVEMENT; not the BS VOD business union. That’s not worth fighting for – it is a check, and a diminishing one at that! They are not coming our way until we return to the mission of activism and collective action. Founders and history are watching.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat


For Organizing Parts 1 thru 8 – go to and click on the Blog tab.

This entry was posted in Labor Rising and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.