Local 28 members were recently mailed an unsigned glossy State of the Industry booklet authored by a Local 28/Contractor joint industry committee.  It is a very worthwhile document and effort.  Regrettably, the booklet was unsigned.

At a minimum the book should be especially interesting and relevant to the four hundred (+-) Local 28 members who presently find themselves on the infamous court ordered referral hall list.  The non-union sheet metal industry described in the booklet clearly represents enough jobs to place each and every member on that list into full time employment.

The contents and commentary in the book are sobering.  However, if the statistics and analysis the book presents reflect the true state of the unionized sheet metal industry, its contents should be nothing short of alarming and embarrassing to every member of this union, the Court, the I.A. and its 28 trustees and our official family.

Most people don’t like to look on the dark side.  With respect to our livelihood, we prefer to think and hope that our problems are manageable.  We prefer to think only about the bills that come across our own kitchen table.  As individuals we are in no way inclined to solve or dwell upon large and complex economic issues.  Local 28’s members are no different.

The contents of this booklet however, could force our members out of that comfort zone.  The large and complex issues discussed in this important booklet will not allow any thoughtful Local 28 member or official to honestly ignore its direct impact on our members and the bills that actually do cross their kitchen tables.

Our 28 members are a clever lot.  We like to think we know what’s up.  We are not naive.  We are worldly.  We are not pampered.  This means that every responsible, individual 28 member with a pulse, eyes and a brain knows in his heart of hearts that there is a non-union sheet metal worker out there, right now, doing our work.  That is a very painful truth, especially to our younger members and the unemployed.  This booklet tells us the problem has been getting worse.

There are rare members with steady employment who might not give the issue as much thought as the unemployed or the member who hustles every job he can get when he can get it.  Additionally and unfortunately, in our past we also had and we still have members and officials who are not quite comfortable admitting the depths of the non-union inroads on our livelihood.  Politically and practically none of us are inclined to brag about our failures or the success of non-union contractors in our areas.  Such has been our history and a way of life in this union.

This gloomy book has the potential to change the status quo.  Local 28’s non-union problem is now out of the closet.  It is in print for all to see.  It is out and proud and difficult to ignore.  That is good.  The book could help make things better for our industry, our contractors and all our members, especially the unemployed – not today but soon.

Provided we all fess-up and identify out loud and publicly the industries, the places, the work, the jurisdiction and man-hours we have lost over the years, the pain this book causes will have been worth it and only passing.  Provided we unashamedly recognize our shortcoming just as we do our points of pride we can turn this problem around – quickly.  Once we get going, once we specifically address each of our jurisdictional shortcomings or failures with a specific long term recovery strategy we are on our way.

The booklet was a great first step.

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