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Will any International VP Fall Out of Line? Hell No! So Then What…

…. elect one not chosen by the status quo as next in line!

You are organizers – mostly ex-organizers. As you built out your respective markets & Compression Zones, every one of you know what kind of pushback you received when you tried to implement the actions required to win. You know how intermediate and higher-level regional organizers, all the way to the top Director of Organizing & senior leaders, squelched your efforts.

You heard phrases from senior leaders like: “We have our own organizing program that we follow”. “We market and recruit to win the ‘confidence & business’ of management”. “The trades collaborate to show how our skills can win the day”. All of this despite the construction market becoming a “race to the bottom” in wages, benefits and conditions – thanks to the failed Value on Display strategy.

Labor Rising would go away in a heartbeat “IF” the trade(s) would start winning market share again. But they have been losing numbers in the best 4 years of record construction spending in history & over 5 decades in total, even factoring in technology advances in construction delivery.

Meanwhile, back to the subject at hand – finding a vice-president falling out of line with the losing ways of ALL our internationals! Most likely, that is NOT happening – so….

Elect a Vice-President who is backed by rank & file organizers and field tradespersons. Overwhelming sentiment of those organizers who have attended Labor Rising classes is that our own Internationals are the biggest obstacles to winning again. This is spoken about openly, with the exception of when senior leaders are around. Because we all know that no one can move up the food chain if they publicly criticize leadership.

Every trade has weak links in their senior VP lineup – mostly from small locals and/or due to nepotism and favoritism. So, take one on. That is organizing at its best!

Labor Rising just happens to have approximately 1,000 names of mostly current, and some fired/quit/retired, organizers across all trades who, if they work to ELECT a VP in their own respective trade, would have an excellent chance of winning that VP position. Labor Rising’s training has crossed the U.S., with every trade, including some in Canada. Our least experience is with Laborers and Carpenters, two organizations that also happen to have lost a league leading amount of market share in the last 2 decades. Check out their LM-2’s.

Labor Rising has started connecting labor activist and will continue to do so across most trades. This is your time young labor activist – lead or get out of the way. It is your time – carpe diem!

Most of those who we have trained are no nonsense MOVEMENT-driven ORGANIZERS. The kind who will feel quite comfortable when they meet the FOUNDERS on the big job in the sky.

Almost to a person, these organizers understand that advancing a MOVEMENT means that they themselves WILL NOT see the benefits of the changes they create with activism!

They (the infamous they) individually know first-hand what our blogs speak to – a failed business trade “UNION” that is a failure and continues to fail. Organize around a single well-chosen voice of activism that speaks plainly about grabbing the wallet of business – until management is forced to share the wealth they derive from the labor of workers, union or not!

Of course, any VP elected through such an activist, MOVEMENT-driven campaign will be one of the best paid senior officials who gets banished off to Siberia (so to speak). Not to worry, as long as they remain in their positions, they have constitutional powers and social media platforms to drive change.

Labor Rising has ALWAYS known that our program would separate wannabe political climbers from true trade union activists. Unfortunately, we also knew we have to change our own trade organizations before we can successfully take on the anti/non-union.

Labor Rising has watched the new crop of International Presidents fall inline with generations of the failed Value on Display mentality/strategy. These fairly newly minted IP’s were chosen because they fell in line. They WILL NOT change their stripes unless they are forced to do so!

The most promising IP boss is at the UA. Hopefully, they take the bottom-up approach and go for the wallet of the end-user, developer & CM. The least promising is a collection of IP’s – but as of this blog I got to go with SMART. The Director of Organizing has zero background in ANY TYPE of organizing. WOW!

The Labor Rising alumni are organizers and NOT politicians; however, a few need to become quasi- politicians backed by organizers and field workers in order to advance the trades as champions of workers – not businesses!

This is well within your reach.

A true story – Back in 1996 at my first convention, our International President was well on his way to becoming a convicted felon on charges related to mismanagement of his responsibilities as IP, yet he still ran for re-election at the convention. No shame in his game – think Trump, and you have the mindset of the then IP. And yet, no one said a word. Over 1,000 convention delegates and 3 other delegates expressed doubts in the capabilities of the IP, but no one opposed him.

During the election, the IP sought and got a motion for unanimous consent of his re-election. In my opinion, a majority would have been OK, and I could have lived with that. But unanimous consent!?! So, I rose to object; however, all microphones and lights were turned off at the delegate speakers’ podium and the balloons were dropped on the victorious election of the IP and his cast of characters.

I raised a point of order, as I did not have a chance to register my objection to unanimous consent, and all hell broke loose. My point is that most delegates from that point on attended all of the committee meetings. Hundreds of delegates were waiting to speak on resolutions to be voted on in the following days. Several resolutions that had been approved by the committees got voted down, including raises, per diems, conditions, travel, convention pay and several more.

As is the case with the trades, the delegates got their convention pay early and conventional wisdom would expect they would be off gambling and partying. But no sir – they waited in long lines to speak against committee-approved resolutions and won their case on many of them on the floor.

This story is chronicled in the Iron Workers 1996 convention magazine issue verbatim. Our trade, as well as many others, showed signs of life back then and that is the closest the trades have gotten to activism in the trenches in the last 5 decades or so.

Enter the early beginning of what we now call Value on Display. So, the trades go from next to zero activism to selling out to management and a non-stop decline in market share and concessionary give backs across the trades.

I predict that one of four options are going to happen: 1) The trades become a permanent temp agency providing next to zero representation of members; 2) An entirely new trades union emerges along side of the existing business model. With approximately 90% of the market already non-union, this is the most likely and viable result – a contemporary 21st century MOVEMENT of workers. Think this is sci-fi? Read the big forums on social media with over 100,000 tradespersons on a couple of them. They talk exactly like us from the standpoint of conditions, wages & benefits. They have wobbled more jobs than union trades. They also want NOTHING to do with us. The trades have sent many status quo quasi organizers from the respective trade to talk to the non-union – all slick talkers from the trades have been sent packing; 3) We die from the sheer BS of being a business-oriented union in an era of growing activism throughout North America in every other sector; or 4) We elect an activist VP and force change. Read your constitution and cut-off the Internationals’ power everywhere you can. There are several ways to do this. More about that in upcoming blogs.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo

Labor Rising

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