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Work to the Rule in Safety – Only Safety –

Work to the Rule brothers’ and sisters’ with regard to safety only! We’re not advocating a wildcat strike whatsoever. Doing so doesn’t come under the NLRB and isn’t in our PLAs or constitutions. We are referring to safety, pure and simple, following the safety measures that we are held up to the letter – not the spirit – to the letter of the management’s rules!

It is bad enough that our Internationals have capitulated our wages, conditions and benefits to management for decades. It is also bad that we no longer have a free and democratic trade union. And it is bad that we lose in almost all cases when our IPs interact with management.

It is bad enough that the same culture of predetermined IPs has sunk organizing and presided over the substantial underfunding in our pensions. Same guys who, by and large, have never stood in a competitive and free election.

It is bad enough when the management side of construction secure yet more profits for the corporate coffers – off of our backs. And what specifically have our IP’s done?

We collectively deserve what has happened to us, as we spend our time and energy whining, complaining, and swearing. But what action have we taken to change the downward trajectory? Labor history will have zero respect for our generation of the rank & file. We have coasted on the shoulders of giants and now do we really believe that posting rough and tumble memes will square history?

If we want to square with history, then leave all the blue & red political stuff aside and pull in one direction – our families. Being divided only serves corporate money and our IPs continued control of our unions.

Safety to the LETTER! Keep our actions only about safety, no other issue with the only exception being coercion & intimidation. Work to the rule regarding safety has nothing to do with pay, benefits, conditions, hiring, firing, the hall, the agents, etc. We have to keep cool – no yelling and losing our composure – but staying laser focused on being prepared with a professional demeanor. MANAGEMENT KNOWS HOW TO POP YOUR CORK to then diminish your claim. Listen carefully and let the other side dig a hole and document it. All things considered, the less you say the better. We work in an adversarial pro-management system – snap out of it! Bring witnesses and co-listeners when in a meeting. Even though it may seem to be an inquisition, it is not. Just shut up until you have creditable people hearing your story.  

  • Secure copies of all the safety documents you signed and review them carefully. Become an expert, but not an arrogant idiot. Remember, if you worked for that company previously you have a mountain of history regarding safety. Read the literal words – they are quite plain. Should they refer to another document get it. Some are on Google, and you should also help populate Google with your info so Google can index it.
  • Understand that the Human Resources (HR) department is there when and if you have to go over your foreman’s, GF’s or Superintendent’s head. Why would we have to do that – because coercion and intimidation by anyone to finish a job when the letter of safety is not in compliance is never acceptable. Safety is always superior to production, regardless of situation. Just because the company has an emergency does not mean we should forfeit our rights.
  • As we all have become aware, company health facilities are not there to secure a healthy outcome for you as an injured worker. They are there to mitigate recordables and deny or limit claims. We need to go to a neutral clinic and/or hospital and listen to those professionals who have no horse in the Workers Comp game. With anything more than garden variety cuts and stiches, go to an independent doctor even if they say we cannot. Bear in mind that different states have different subrogation laws, and we travel for work a lot. Pay attention or you will be, yet another union tradesperson caught up in the called Comparative Negligence game where you may get little to zero compensation. And BTW a busted-up body. Before we drink that 6 pack of Keystone – we need to read and ask questions.
  • ANYTHING NOT covered by the safety rules – get safety involved and have it put in writing before you lift a tool. Remember if a worker can “shut down” a job because of safety, that means it is very important. So, treat safety to that standard because management will do it to us if injured.
  • All tools, yours and theirs, need to be compliant to the safety officers’ inspection records.
  • Musical chairs – if most or all of the workers work to the rule regarding safety, few will be fired. Firing someone because of safety triggers all sorts of other actions. Right now, and for the immediate future, jobs need bodies. So, whoever replaces you should work to the rule regarding safety and when you get to your next job, work to the rule. Musical chairs will cease when the R&F are one.
  • Perception of a company’s safety record in social media and construction circles is a big deal. If you get fired because you worked to the letter of the safety rules, make your case on the social media of the group of companies you worked for. The straws of social perception will soon break the companies’ backs.
  • Should the union agents tell you to get the job done and do whatever it takes to do so, or you’re lucky to have a job, so just stay cool and document the conversation. Keep a log of any and all comments to push the job when safety is not being complied to the letter.

The rank & file is on its own – has been for a while. It’s time to be a band of brothers and sisters to protect our own safety. Let’s not hurt our families and those of coworkers by jeopardizing our health, wellbeing and earning power. Now that’s being tough. Funeral expenses are at the core of why most trades union started if you know your history.  

Share this like your family’s financial health depended on it because when an injury happens it will!

Our Founders knew how to work together to get the respect they worked hard for. Being tough means standing for something bigger than ourselves. Our Building Trades once lifted all workers. Since the 60’s, that has retreated, and the trades now serve management’s interests far to often.

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo


Labor Rising

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