The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 07, 2012

Election’s over, time to focus on regaining union market share

By The Building Tradesman

Across America, voters said “Yes” to Barack Obama ‘s vision  to move our nation forward by investing in America and re-building our country from the middle out.

But perhaps more importantly, the voters rejected Mitt Romney’s “race to the bottom” approach that favored the few at the expense of the many, and which sits as the core philosophy of anti-union groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors.

During his acceptance speech, the President said that the “task of perfecting our union” moves forward “because of you.”  He wasn’t just flattering all those voters that put a check next to his name on their ballot, he was acknowledging the obvious.  Our nation needs some perfecting.  We need to reject the overly partisan machinations of the extreme wings of BOTH political parties, and come together in a unified, constructive fashion to tackle large and consequential challenges that face our nation – the most important and pressing of which is getting people back to work!

Sure, our unions are rightfully proud to have been in the trenches fighting on behalf of Democrats like Barack Obama, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Marc Pocan and Carol Shea-Porter.

But, we are equally proud to have fought successfully on behalf of Republicans like Jon Runyan, Michael Grimm, Adam Kinzinger, Michael Turner and Dave Reicher.

The point here is this: now is not a time for any part of our nation to engage in partisan celebration.  From the perspective of our unions, there is not a lot to celebrate when our members continue to suffer from a national unemployment rate that is approximately 12 percent!

Rather, it is a time for reflection, and a time for planning. Today, the real work in America must begin.

As I have said repeatedly over the last four years, America’s Building trades unions have bemoaned the toxic and debilitating nature of American politics in this day and age.  It sickens me that our system of government today rarely, if ever, places the needs of working American families ahead of the concerns of wealthy special interests and political party considerations.

As President Obama correctly pointed out on Election night, the American electorate decisively voted for action, not politics as usual, and that this election was more about OUR JOBS than his job.

So, today and every day going forward, it shall be the mission of America’s Building trades unions to engage politicians of BOTH political parties in thoughtful and reasoned discussions that will hopefully lead them to devote their time and energy on solving problems, not rehashing old fights on long-settled issues like infrastructure investments, prevailing wages, project labor agreements, workforce development, and health and retirement security.

Our contention is that it should never be too much to expect our public servants to put aside partisan beliefs once an election is concluded and work like Hell to address the pressing needs of this country in a balanced and responsible way, and which allows for a level playing field.

What our unions will do from this point forward is to seek out and engage public servants –  regardless of political affiliation – who agree with us that the business of governing cannot succeed unless it is cleansed of the type of raw political motivations that we have seen over the last four years.

Surely, this will require leadership in both parties, and I mean leadership in the true sense of the word; whereby one person enlists the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task that benefits the greater good.  And today, there is no greater common task that benefits the greater good than putting Americans back to work and moving our economy forward.

America’s building trades unions have always subscribed to, and reaped the benefits of, a bi-partisan approach to representative democracy, and we will always do so.  And rest assured, our unions have no intention of participating in any manner of counter-productive, post-election partisan antics that serve to only further enflame and calcify the type of policy gridlock that has heretofore prevented our nation from creating economic prosperity and opportunity for the American Middle Class, and from putting our members back to work!

Let is also be known that our embrace of a non-partisan, cooperative approach to politics, is also being extended  to the U.S. construction marketplace as well.

America’s building trades unions will soon be embarking upon a value-oriented marketing approach that will seek to leverage the growing need that many companies and industries have today for a safe, competent, skilled and productive workforce that can effectively produce quality “on-time, on budget” results for their construction procurement needs.

In essence, we intend, through both word and deed, to effectively demonstrate how our unions possess many of the solutions that construction owners face.

To that end, our unions today are working in concert with our signatory contractors like never before to fashion together a joint strategic approach that will demonstrate our commitment to delivering proven and measurable economic value, especially to those sectors of the American economy that are poised for growth over the next decade.

To put it bluntly, the union construction industry is serious about re-capturing market share.

And the electoral results of November 6th, combined with the positive economic trends that we are seeing in many sectors of the American economy, are aligning to offer us numerous opportunities to achieve those gains.

However, we will most assuredly squander these opportunities if we fail to shed the acrimonious, confrontational and counter-productive strategies that have dogged us in the past.  Today, our “value on display…every day” brand mantra commands that we instead deploy a value-based approach that is specifically designed to meet the needs and concerns of our customers and our members.

Whether in politics, or in the marketplace, our aim is the same.  We want to work with those who recognize the value that we provide to our industry, to America, and to the communities in which we live and work.

As President Obama said on Election Night, we are an American family.  And just like our unions, our American family is growing in strength and diversity— men, women, Latinos, African Americans, young, old, military veterans and other civic minded individuals.

All of us believe in the communities in which we work and live.

The trick now is to seize the political and economic advantages that are being presented to us today; embrace a new approach that is tailored to those advantages; and to reach out and engage elected officials and construction owners in an attempt to find common ground and avoid the divisive battles of the past.

For our part, America’s Building trades unions remain at the ready to do our part as we continue to move forward our nation’s recovery, our industry’s recovery, and the recovery of the American Middle Class.