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To: NYC Building Trades Field Rank & File –

Dear Rank & File: You have been usurped by the leadership of the NYCBTC! Definition of usurped: “to take the place of someone, (or in this case something, your MOVEMENT) in a position of power, to supplant”; in other words, seized, taken over, expropriated, ousted, annexed the true intention of the field Rank & File of the NYC Building Trades members.

A “grass roots” organic MOVEMENT of R&F members in the streets gave the NYCBTC leadership some much needed leverage in the construction market. And, the NYCBTC grabbed that advantage and usurped the MOVEMENT and GOALS of the street members by placing themselves in charge over time. Now they present the goals of the MOVEMENT as being the NYCBTC goals; at least to the field Rank & File!

Once the NYCBTC attached themselves to the field members, things changed very subtly, far outside the purview of the Rank & File. As a veteran organizer it was easy to see the evidence – items like permits, times for rallies & marches, barricades and routes, having union officers speak, disclaimers on communication materials such as fliers, etc…

The NYCBTC needed the legal framework that complied with the NLRB Labor Law, so they didn’t get sued directly and the member union affiliates had limited liability.

Who was watching the interaction of the organic R&F MOVEMENT of members and the senior leadership of the NYCBTC was management?

So, a great organic MOVEMENT of R&F Building Trades members was usurped by parties that have far different goals than the members in the streets. Management’s goals were to get the heat off them. Have a successful launch and opening of the properties. Get labor to concede on wages & terms, such as both union & non-union on projects. Have a continuing framework (contract) in which management by-and-large sets the terms for future work commitments. And…

The Trades’ senior leadership goals were much simpler. To use the pressure of a pure MOVEMENT of workers to get a seat at the table – period! It is a diminished seat, but heck at this point if you’re the piss poor senior leaders of the NYCBTC, a diminished seat is better than nothing. They want to spin this as a Win – Win! Of course, they do. The NYCBTC has been losing market share, wages, conditions for well over a decade now! So, the organic R&F MOVEMENT that sprung up was a gift to both the senior NYCBTC leadership and even to management. The trades are clueless following the totally failed Value on Display BS game plan for approximately the same amount of time.

Throughout the U.S. and Canada, the trades have done nothing but lost market share in EVERY category “NET” for decades, as in plural! That is one heck of a statement – which is also unfortunately 100% true!

To my Brothers & Sisters who founded the true and organic New York City Rank & File members, consider this – the NYCBTC did you a 2-part favor.

#1 – You as R&F understand being usurped! Welcome to the plight of nearly all R&F frustrations: constantly seeing the conceding and losing of the Internationals and/or District Councils/Building Trades because thay have no plan past the failed Value on Display. So, these entities keep losing. They do what NYCBTC just did and concede and capitulate to get any hours they can! The senior leaders stay relevant only by a hair. They also keep their titles and checks flowing, which for them is NOT so irrelevant!

To you Brother & Sister R&F who think you helped secure this deal and believe that if not for your actions all may have been lost. Absolutely correct, and the other consequence was securing even more hard and real concessions off the backs of workers while senior leadership of the NYCBTC, management and the non-union jobs remain completely intact. Also, the history of management forever has been that the paper the deal (PLA) is struck on historically isn’t worth being in the porta john unless it is a CBA!

#2 – The organic R&F MOVEMENT that you all have developed is still completely alive should you chose to stay in the streets and guess what – it is unfettered by anything the union affiliates and/or management can do. Our Founding Fathers knew workers in the street trump all if it remains non-violent. They practiced the quote of Oliver Goldsmith who said, “you can preach a better sermon with your life, than with your lips”. You do not need permits, schedules, notification of a march, barricades etc., to talk workers on workers en masse. DO NOT ever tell either the union and/or management of the R&F plans do the degree possible. Never in a formal way such as letter, text, call, email. You do have to follow some laws/rules that will be applied at the time – and based on circumstances then. What you’ll come to understand is you control the outcome far more than you now know with the peaceful use of labor unrest and even some civil disobedience! Your actions will also become the tip of the sword for R&F activism more than with any group in the U.S. for decades! No drama in this statement even a bit! No organic R&F MOVEMENT in the U.S., and I think Canada, can put the number of members in the streets that you can. Our Founders would have your back and not those of the senior leadership of the NYCBTC, or even the International Presidents.

You had some officer(s) who did remain true to what was being done in the streets. You know who they are because they were purged (fired) by the affiliate/international unions even though they are elected.

If you have read this far then know that if you go back in the streets you are not only bettering workers lives – both union and non-union – but you are playing for all the marbles. What can derail the organic MOVEMENT is again letting anyone OTHER than yourselves deal with issues going forward.

“IF” the original organizers, the glue are still activist and have not been lured by the “good ole boys” club – all the better.

What will be lost is the name or brand that was organically created – cannot be used any longer. Call it a casualty of learning and adapting. This would be about legal stuff that could stop you before you even resurrect version 2 of a true R&F MOVEMENT! Don’t use the former name!!

Labor Rising has long attached to a quote Vernon Johns said prior to the advent of MLK:

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Many individual and even affiliated unions have tried to restore that mantra to their respective organizations; however, only the NYC Rank & File have come this far with your numbers being sustained, along with valuable lessons learned!

This has ramifications far past NYC. Could this be the start of the Building Trades becoming a MOVEMENT again!?!

“NYC members have seen a good fight – will they continue it”

In Solidarity,

Brother Danny L Caliendo


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