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Open Shop Contractors Don’t Sign a CBA Because They Want Too

Historically the “open shop” signs a Collective Bargaining Agreement, a CBA for one of two reasons:

  • They have too, or to
  • Gain access to a market

From the beginning of the modern Building Trades or BT, the “open shop” could only get skilled tradespersons from the respective crafts, and the BT had a monopoly on available skilled labor thru organizing. However, as importantly, if not more importantly; a living wage, overtime, safety & conditions just to highlight several key aspects of union labor was won and/or imposed on the “open shop”.  Labor peace was only available to “open shop” contractors who signed a CBA.

Up to the mid 70’s the business proposition to the “open shop” was very straight forward – if you are going to perform work in the BT, you were going to be union – case closed! And the BT put forth the effort thru all legal means to accomplish that goal thru organizing.

As the BT built Market Share or MS into the early 70”s, “open shop” contractors signed a CBA to gain access to markets, which was a business decision on their part, so they could work in those union markets – which were fought for.

As Brother JC Turner, Former General President of the Operators International Union points out in his white paper titled – The Business Roundtable and American Labor 1979 The Business Roundtable et al developed a plan to destroy the Building Trades over time.

However as anti-union as the plan was – it has been the BT own lack of hard core organizing pressure being absent these past 3 decades, which has been the prime factor in the decline of MS for the BT.

Since approximately the mid 70’s our continued message of value on display, and the direct relationship the BT has had with those entities that have repeatedly and aggressively tried to put us out of existence is the primary reason MS has dropped. The numbers are crystal clear to that reality.

During the last 3 decades the BT has looked to “sell” the product of union labor to unwilling buyers. The numbers speak for themselves regarding this fact. Also during the past 3 decades our collective ability to bring legal pressure to bear on the “open shop” contractors has diminished down to near zero!

Simply stated – the organizers of the Building Trades know the book side of organizing; but few understand the “street side” of organizing and the business of construction.

For over 3 decades now the “open shop” has positioned itself, along with the Building Trades peaceful attempts to “sell” ourselves into a position where the “open shop” doesn’t have to sign a CBA – so why would they?

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

In Solidarity,

Danny L Caliendo

Senior Instructor

Labor Combat Organizing College

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