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Lesson’s Not Learned by New Crop of International Presidents –

A return of “bottom-up” organizing is now underway by a few trades. Blitzes of workers and select market contractors in several states.

What it is – is a recruitment blitz, under the guise of organizing. There may be a few traditional bottom-up campaigns that develop and file for NLRB elections. We’ll see.

It is mobilization of Organizers, Agents and staff along with hundreds of thousands/millions of dollars of membership money, already spent, to recruit non-union workers. With RETENTION rates at or under a 1:1 ratio the trades are sucking wind for people. Between retirement of union workers and reverse recruitment of trained union workers by the non-union’s head hunters, along with work in most local markets now non-union, the trades simply are getting their asses kicked.

At the heart of this butt kicking are the International Presidents without a game plan. The IPs are sending troops out to RECRUIT enough bodies for continuing marginal viability. The blitzes are mostly in areas rich with existing and upcoming work, and the trades must shore up the body count to even have a shot at the work. Even if we get the bodies, union workers will see yet more concessions on those jobs – a temp agency with retreating wages, benefits and conditions. The issue isn’t the Organizers – given a chance and the proper tools, they would fight a smart and moral fight! Another crop of newly minted IPs which may think they have their 1st term to establish themselves. They don’t.

With these rounds of blitzes of non-union, unions have succeeded in sending a MESSAGE to the non/anti-union. They have collectively waved a red flag in front of a bull. Trouble is all they have is a red flag, not the lessons learned by prior bull fighters, no swords to fight, nor understanding of situational awareness of the presence and structure!

The present, and last few decades of history have been very clear – a failing strategy using Value on Display for nearly 30 years. Bottom-up abandoned decades ago with most organizers unfamiliar with constructing markets and labor law as a start. Most titled organizers have literally never set foot in a regional office, or taken ANY type of NLRB case through to the end. Recruitment is, and has been, dead on arrival using blitzes. Many multiemployer pensions are in jeopardy, and the list of failure is so much bigger – it is its own blog. BTW – the same IP’s which have presided over the loss of union power, are the same group that have pensions in jeopardy!

All of this on the watch of the current and prior IPs for the last 4 decades, and their loyal-to-a-fault YES MEN!

The YES MEN are even worse than the IPs – YES MEN to a fault – all towing the line for a title and position. Special place in hell for these MEN!

The Building Trades are testing the limits of incompetence across the board in leadership!

This group of IPs will be the last of any consequence.

The RED FLAG of these blitzes will manifest themselves very quickly into a push by forces loyal to the non/anti-union to deal the trades a fatal blow.

First, the non/anti-union will be on high alert. They will inoculate their employees in many meetings to come. The consultant and lawyer groups have a very potent story to tell about unions: the nepotism; the old boy club; the fact of many non-union workers being excluded when they did want to join; many failing pensions that are insolvent or projected to be; Unions themselves working behind the members backs to jettison defined benefits and only have defined contribution programs (which BTW is dictated to those IPs by management); dues and assessments on the rise, while pay, benefits and conditions are being undermined; hiring lists and the lot. While the non/anti-union are doing this en masse with 90% of the workers in a non/anti-union market.

Meanwhile on the other side, the Republicans will be, and are, gutting and repealing all manner of worker protections – NOW! This list is huge at both the federal and state level: RTW, Davis- Bacon, PLA’s all in the sites of a majority of federal and state legislatures that are R controlled. H-2B visa requests are off the charts for workers and we will most likely see the use of skilled immigrants to supplement/backdoor H-2B.

The Building Trades’ entire mission is to balance big capital and labor! In seeking to collaborate since the early 70’s, and with appeasements/concessions of every type with Value on Display and a total abandonment of representing workers – union or not – we find ourselves on the brink!

Leaders sold out to management to get what jobs management wants to give them & a check! We find ourselves beholding to politicians because the leadership has forfeited maintaining political power by increasing markets and R&F.

Read your history IPs. As early as 1619 in Jamestown – the skilled crafts stood tall with owners. Far before the Revolutionary War! Almost ALL social justice actions had their roots planted by the AFL between the 1600’s thro to the late 60’s! The CIO was formed within the AFL and expelled in the 30’s, to then merge again in 1955. Every type of social justice action, to a large extent, has had its start because of the AFL and that leadership and membership! We stand on shoulders of giants, and since the early 70’s have pissed away progress with our so-called leaders and hacks. Women’s Activism ( United Tailoresses of New York organized in New York City in 1825) (Lowell Female Labor Reform Association formed in 1844), Child Labor Laws, 8 Hour Day (May 1st – 1886), Civil Rights of workers both on and off the job ( Colored National Labor Union founded in 1869) – hell the list is almost endless!

The only way to increase the power of workers is for labor leaders to go toe to toe with capital by impacting companies’ bottom lines, their perception in the community, their credit and clients. STRUCTURE and a backbone to balance big capital have been totally missing since the early 70’s! The Trades will not force the non-union companies to sign a CBA as its core strategy to Organize. They will not put anti-union businesses out of the market, especially those that enslave workers! That is why we have unions. Our Founders never flinched in this role, and that of providing the necessary balance between labor and capital!

The biggest block to taking the company, regardless if they want to sign a CBA or not, is our own Internationals and most of their subordinates.

Labor Rising knows this because we have had 91 Organizers build out markets. They had to do this themselves. Because only they know the nuances of their market. A consultant or vendor can’t do it – the local/DC/International must. Only a handful of the 91 remain, almost entirely because when they did their homework, they saw specifically the interconnected relationships that had to be addressed and overcome! This upset many in intermediate/high places in both labor and management.

So, these Organizers and Agents were throttled, forced to resign, given zero support, quit and some were promoted!

What separates losing and winning are our IPs’ almost unilateral collaboration with those who want us gone. I find it interesting when trades host entities such as the Construction Users Roundtable. They clearly don’t know or care about the history and continuing collapsing markets. And yet the IPs continue to collaborate?

A link to a White Paper from former IP of the Operating Engineers, JC Turner, regarding the anti-union:!AmKOi71GyLcgqyK4It5U8aRX-AAu

The Internationals will not let Labor Rising’s tactics take hold because they are far removed from the Rank & File, beholding to managements’ dictates and big 6-figure checks. And we will win in the field with a pittance of the money spent these past few decades!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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