Until union contractors and their labor partners decide to put aside their differences and work together to gain market share, potential clients will continue to look elsewhere for their industrial construction and maintenance needs, TAUC CEO Steve Lindauer said recently.
“Union contractors and union labor offer the best value, the highest quality workmanship and the most stringent safety standards in the business – but we still have to do the hard work of persuading people to give us a shot,” Lindauer said in a speech to hundreds of delegates attending the International Union of Operating Engineers 38th General Convention in Hollywood, Florida.
“We, as an industry, need to decide that the only way we’re going to succeed individually is if we work together collectively,” Lindauer added. “Do you want to grow the ranks of the Operating Engineers? Do you want to spend more of your time on a jobsite rather than riding the bench at the hiring hall? Then decide to work more closely with your contractors.”
But cooperation is a two-way street, Lindauer made clear.
“I tell my member contractors the same thing: do you want to grow your business? Then decide to work more closely with your union partners. Decide to put aside petty differences. Decide to think about where the other guy is coming from for a change.
“If a potential customer looks at union construction and sees a bunch of petty rivalries,” Lindauer warned, “they’ll go somewhere else.”
Lindauer closed with a football analogy. “Customers are like coaches in the NFL: they ultimately get to decide who plays on their team. We can have all the technical talent and ability in the world. But if they look at us – and by ‘us’ I mean both unions and contractors – and they don’t see a well-oiled machine, with everyone working together for a common goal – they will choose to take their chances with someone else.”