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Relevance of the Building Trades in 2016 –


It’s that time again – time when every news program, every website, every newspaper and radio station starts reviewing the past year and looking ahead to what the New Year will bring. As we look back on 2015, we see yet another year of declining market share relevant to the number of total construction jobs created in 2015 “net”, which is a new record for total construction spending.  Another year of our leadership struggling to stay relevant. Another year of embracing “the way we’ve always done things” simply because they’re the way we’ve always done them. Fearful of change, technology and internal politics. Looking forward to 2016, we at Labor Rising see 12 months of opportunity to fundamentally change the way we’re doing things — change for the better. Is even one International President up for leading the way?

Mass media is dead to us. Since 90% of our media is owned by six corporations, it should come as no surprise that “the media” does not have a pro-Union message. How has our leadership combatted this corporate takeover? From our view, it appears as though they are the last guy selling horses, telling his customers that the horseless carriage is just a fad. When we are not doing that, we play the victim well. In listening to our current leadership everyone else is to blame for the decline of the Building Trades – poor us! Continuing to tell ourselves that the construction world needs us, and that any minute now they will awaken. Every single number everywhere and in every sector overwhelmingly say this is not the case. If we exclude the hours from Western Canada and the Gulf Coast you can see why local after local is merging and/or struggling to stay relevant in their respective markets.

Need some proof that we have become irrelevant? Go back and watch any of the Presidential debates that have happened this year – Republican and Democratic alike. Take count of how many times Labor is mentioned. You won’t have to worry about losing count – it’s a real low number.

Are we proposing that Labor simply give up? Of course not. Advances in technology have brought us some incredible powerful tools — social media platforms have taken the ability to communicate away from “the media” and put it squarely into the hands of the people. “BUT” we have to use it and engage it! These platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have real-world impact. Twitter, especially, is a powerful social media platform which has helped effect serious change. So, how is our leadership’s guidance telling us how to use these tools? I believe the word “dismal” works here. We talk endlessly about it and when we do use social media and technology it is almost entirely passive and unstructured. As a point of reference, two years ago, at the Building Trades Legislative Conference, we were told as part of a presentation during a work shop moderated by the Building Trades Tom Owens (we’re paraphrasing here), “Twitter isn’t important” by one of the speakers from the AFL-CIO.

Search engines are another example of a change in how business gets done. 88% of people looking for a local business (including contractors) turn to Google. In the residential and service markets, this could amount to a huge percentage of market share. What guidance are our unions getting to help them understand how to leverage these tools and grow their union contractors businesses?

The simple truth is that with the power of our collective membership and the use of technology, we could not only grow our market share, but also manipulate the public’s perception. Considering that this power has laid almost solely in the hands of “the media” for decades, this is a big deal. But, it requires aggressive structure, coordination, real-time collaboration, and it ultimately depends on our membership being on board. They need to see a plan. And it is much more cost effective than how we communicate and advance our interest now!

This is why, during the section of our class in which we discuss technology, we spend a significant amount of time discussing internal communication. This is where it has to start, has too. Uniting our membership can have a profound impact on both national and local levels, but that is an impossible job when our main forms of communication with our membership is via telephone calls, mail and even union meetings to a large degree. There is simply no way to coordinate effectively using such outdated forms of communication. What we need is real-time mass communication methods to reach our membership quickly.

For those that say the membership won’t do it, you are revealing yourself as a mere politician – because a leader will educate their membership with proper guidance on the very real importance of doing this and get er done!

Imagine what you could accomplish if you had a way to instantly communicate with your entire membership. Now imagine you can also interact with just a part of it (retirees, for instance, or only members who live in voting district #6, or 2nd period apprentices). Granular lists for effective engagement of the membership. Take this a step farther and imagine being able to instantly communicate with the workers over at Company X that you’re trying to organize. Cyber-organizing. If your imagination isn’t already stretched to its limit, add in that this communication was not only instantaneous, but also inexpensive. For many locals that have been through our class, this is not imaginary at all. They’re using Mass Texting, Mass emails and APPs to accomplish all of this now!

In 2016 – we will talk Relevance in the Building Trades. Buckle up because we will be using real facts and real live examples of what we have found firsthand over 3 years.

We will Blog on

  • Internal Communication – pure untapped potential power of the membership
  • Social Media – aggressive and structured outbound use. No more build it and they will come
  • Community relationships of every type from disaster relief to community service shared thru-out the ranks on a click, x millions of social signals
  • The real power of Twitter in defining politics and issues along with other social media tools
  • Proper website development – it is garbage now. High costs, long timelines, old technology and most Building Trades websites are built by 6 web firms – very little, to no relevance at all in their development
  • No Blogs on our websites – which exerts authority over the work performed and makes it relevant to us. Think of Green, Sustainable and all the great things we do – can’t be found now because we have garbage websites
  • Google Analytics – free tool NEVER mentioned to BT unions by the website vendors because it is a tool to track a site’s traffic and effectiveness and much more
  • Social Media and education of the public and the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and Secondary activity
  • You Tubes for apprenticeships and recruiting for careers – where are they
  • Job Fairs using proper social media and technology
  • Cyber Organizing – using technology to talk to state wide audiences and for bottom-up campaigns that will win – even today
  • Distance management tools of different types – why is everyone driving/flying everywhere for items that can be handled quickly and effectively with technology
  • Cloud based usage and sharing of documents
  • CMP, Contractors Marketing Programs for residential and service markets, Angie’s List, Home Advisor etc… The union’s connected membership can pick winners and losers in the business world including big end-users, developers and construction managers

Relevance – without it in the 21st Century – Building Trades will not win!

I told you that Labor Rising are NOT vendors. Vendors tell their clients BS and take them wining and dining.

We are Organizers – built to win and only leaders come our way!

2016 belongs to the Rank & File – buckle up baby!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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