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The Chairs We Sit In –

Culture & Strategy Snip


“Culture eats strategy over breakfast,” said Peter Drucker, and it is only when you fully understand what this means, that you’ll lead a successful company (union).

So what chairs do you sit in? At union meetings, at executive board meetings, at fund meetings, at building trades meetings, at district council meetings – as an executive for the international.

I would bet my pension that 90% of us sit in the exact same place we have always sat in as leaders, both philosophically and literally. Of that I’d be betting even more that the 8% of the remaining 10% that think they don’t – do. Ego and arrogance.

So if we keep trying to apply age old failed strategies to a fast moving, ever dynamic construction industry – is it any longer a mystery?

An example of this is that with work picking up and the next round of jobs picking up thru-out the country – we continue to do the same old tied activities. Find non-union guys and give them union jobs right now, and think they should thank their lucky stars we have granted them membership in our club. The numbers tell us that if they come, it is because overwhelmingly they are 2nd tier hands. And when they money up and get eligibility to the Health & Welfare, they use it and in the next cycle of boom and bust of construction – take their skills back to the non-union along with some of our union members. This is a long established cycle now 30 years old.

They non-union worker values the membership in direct proportion to how we value it – it produces revenue to the union and international – period! The “culture” of our market development. Is it any wonder then, that the reps out there are having a difficult time even giving away a membership?

We sit in our exact same chairs with Labor-Management committees. Safety and training, selling ourselves with the false notion that we are winning, then finding the best restaurant’s in town and repeating the cycle endlessly.

We continue meeting with gate keepers, instead of decision makers of the major industries (CURT) – getting promised ever smaller chump change of the work in those markets. In the Gulf Coast for example – we have been presented with increased amounts of work higher than we have had in years. Perhaps as high as approximately 10% of the upcoming work, when we have had approximately 3% of the work. Sounds like a win – in our existing culture it is! If we could really organize and develop our market – it absolutely is a loss.

The Building Trades is being dictated too – shut up and take this, or else! And by the way, go out and do the recruiting and massive amounts of training and “maybe” we’ll keep you around for a while.
Owners are trading labor peace on not only those jobs – but all facilities and infrastructure thru-out the area as well as other areas.

They will threaten us with loss of work if we try to organize other adjacent markets. They know we are desperate for revenue and members and won that negotiation big time and most likely sealed the faith of the future of the Building Trades. But the current politicians get a “check”!

So we are locked in all over the market development map and relegated to being their punks to go out and man and train the few jobs that in their benevolence they see fit to let us have.
If we do not finally take those chairs’ we are sitting in and smash them to smithereens, we will not have any chairs to sit in very soon.

Danny L Caliendo
Organizer
Labor Rising

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