February 2012

The Reality: We Can Double Our Market Share in Ten Years

During the past year, as I have traveled to local unions, district councils, or contractor association meetings and speak that the Iron Workers will double our market share in the next ten years, there is usually the skeptic who shakes his head or mutters that it can’t be done or we’ve heard this before. This article is for them and why I so confident that it will be accomplished.

1. 
I have complete faith in our members—their skills, attitude and determination. Ironworkers are a different breed. Whether it comes from the work we do or the type of individual our trade attracts; our work ethic, competitiveness, and pride is recognized, acknowledged and respected by brother tradesmen, contractors and owners. Owner productivity studies have proven what we all know; we are the best. This is leading to greater bid opportunities for our contractor partners in traditional non-union facilities.

2. 
To double our market share in ten years is NOT pie in the sky. It is obtainable. Let the numbers speak. It is growth of only ten percent per year. Our union has done it in the past when we grew ten-fold from 1933 to 1943 and was on track during 2006-2008 until the economy was sabotaged. While more difficult in high union density areas, the majority of the country is low union density and an increase from 10% market share to 11% in a year can come from the variety of ways cited.

3. 
Organize! Organize! Organize! We have the best organizer in the trades. Executive Director Bernie Evers has proven his strategies and actions can deliver and recover market share. We have reclaimed lost work with newly organized contractors and new members. Our non-union counterparts have been beaten down by their employers and are looking for a better future, a union future.

4. 
We have IMPACT! Never has our relationship with our signatory contractors been better, more honest, and more of a partnership. We have the best partners in the industry and the programs IMPACT has created and brought to bear will create more opportunities and more market share for union ironworkers. Your good work and reputation is being publicized so owners and contractors know we are the best value in the industry.

5. 
The demands of our two nations will dictate increased commitments to infrastructure, energy, education and manufacturing through public or private partnerships. The work will be done and we are positioning ourselves to do it.

6. 
Our competition’s labor force has dissipated. Skill shortages and their lack of commitment to training is forcing them to increase their costs or consider the union ironworker as their best solution.

7. 
The United States is refocusing on the dwindling middle class and community jobs. Local and national legislators on both side of the aisle see the value of local jobs for local people as active demonstrations by local unions and tireless efforts of local union leadership push the issue.

And this brings us back to Number 1; I have complete faith in our members. Faith that has been confirmed by your increased commitment to organizing and IMPACT from actions taken at our 42nd Convention. Faith in your elected leaders and their commitment to work for you. Faith in your actions day in and day out to see the job done well and not let a few destroy our reputation. And faith that you want a stronger union for you and your family’s future. This is how we will double our market share in ten years or sooner!

Thank you brothers and sisters for helping to build our great union.