With the coming of the New Year…

As the year rolls over, and national and international turmoil continues, let us all keep this quote in mind:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”  – Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

We hope in 2019 that you will continue to stand up for what you believe in – no matter what challenges arise. 


Why should you measure market share?

We’re starting a video series! First up: “Why measure market share?”

If you’ve got 4 minutes, take the time to watch (and we hope “LIKE” it, too).

Whether this is a new-to-you idea OR something you’ve been doing for some time, we want to enhance your resolve to use data and analysis to manage your market!

Oops…the difference four little words can make

Short Version: The tax code is putting TI work at risk, unintentionally.

Long version:  Marketplace Morning report (listen here) is running a story about the four words left out of the tax reform act that are hurting businesses. This unintentional omission has resulted in extending the depreciation schedule for tenant improvements in retail from 15 years to 39.  The actual intent, we’re told, was to cut it completely and allow immediate depreciation for business owners.

Unfortunately, Congress has known about the problem since at least August of this year (https://www.rollcall.com/news/policy/senate-gop-seeks-tax-law-fixes-retail-glitch).  Speaker Paul Ryan promised to take up the problem in the current lame-duck session, but we didn’t see it on the House schedule for this week (https://www.majorityleader.gov/weekly-schedule/) and we don’t see any evidence that anything happened.

So it it looks as though retail TI work will be trending downward for quite a while.



A better way to do capitalism

Henry Blodgett, now of Business Insider, gave a very interesting presentation at their Ignition conference:  https://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-better-capitalism-raising-wages-ignition-2018-12

His premise is that there is a better way to do capitalism. It’s not an original thought, but he expresses it well – companies must create value not solely for their shareholders, but for all of their stakeholders – owners, customers, employees, and society. Blodgett makes some other interesting points along the way.

CDR certainly strives to do this, and it’s a capitalist philosophy that’s proven to work well with organized labor. We all need to return to this model.

National Law Review Updates

It’s nice to see states catching up to where organized labor’s been for a long time: equal pay for equal work.  https://www.natlawreview.com/article/boli-issues-final-rules-oregon-s-equal-pay-law

Thinking of using job-site cameras with facial-recognition tech to track employees goofing off out back?  Or fingerprints to see who actually attends that all-important meeting that just happens to be in a very tempting Vegas casino?  There are laws about that:  https://www.natlawreview.com/article/illinois-supreme-court-to-decide-scope-bipa

More on the reasoning behind the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision upholding right-to-work:  https://www.natlawreview.com/article/kentucky-supreme-court-dismisses-labor-unions-challenge-to-state-right-to-work-law

Yes, employers should consult unions before changing mandatory safety policies:  https://www.natlawreview.com/article/do-employee-safety-policies-require-negotiation-union

For those of you who are wondering (and of course you are), “OFCCP” stands for Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. And apparently it’s going great guns:  https://www.natlawreview.com/article/trump-administration-ofccp-continues-to-obtain-large-recoveries-contractors-fy18

Overheard at a Coffee Shop: A Realistic View of the Quality of Jobs Available in America

Today I was sitting at a coffee shop and sadly overheard this from a fellow coffee shop patron today: “I keep hearing on the news about all these new jobs that have been created. I know all about that. I have THREE of those jobs and need all three of them just to keep my apartment.” The middle aged man went on to discuss how difficult getting ahead is with the wages available to him and how he wishes he only had to have “one of those jobs.”

It is a sad testament to the fact that one job is not enough. It brings me back to a Belgian man studying at Columbia University who I met circa 2009. He asked what I could possibly mean when I referred to “the working poor” in my presentation. This was a foreign concept to him.

Understandably as, indeed, it is quite an oxymoron. If you work full time, it should be enough to feed, clothe and house your family.




The opinions and predictions about the future of labor unions are mixed in this recent Economist article. The final thoughts are what interest CDR and likely others who are working to help organized labor to innovate for continued success. Referring to both traditional and non-traditional labor groups, the take-away is “use the data!”

Often, the idea of using data in unions is focused upon knowing who your members are. Of course, this is quite integral to the process of increasing union membership and keeping current members engaged. Knowing members’ basic demographics is a great starting point. Beyond that the types of data that can be collected and, most importantly, ANALYZED and ACTED UPON, is almost endless and can be used to deepen union reach, opportunities and power.  

In the construction trades we recommend unions track things like:

  • Size, sector and contractors hired for area projects.
  • # of times a general contractor hires non-union vs. union.
  • Volume of jobs in your geographical area.
  • Volume of jobs in various sectors of your market.
  • Your overall market share.
  • Your market share in size and industry sectors.
  • Which competitors are new to your area.
  • Which contractors have recently stopped or decreased hiring union.
  • Which competitors are growing their volume.

There’s more, but we’ll stop there.

We expect that when organizing outside of construction, that there is a great number of parallels with this list as well as a lot of new ideas. Some may include:

  • Number of current members in various market sectors or companies.
  • Changes in membership over time.
  • Number of members in specific geographic areas.
  • Which companies frequently hire union or provide supportive environments for union members.
  • Pay rates and benefits of members based on area, sector, etc.

And a whole lot more, undoubtedly, (and we invite readers to share more ideas)!

But just KNOWING a lot of data doesn’t help anyone – whether we are talking unions in challenging economic times, scientists working in a lab or even your know-it-all cousin at Thanksgiving dinner.  What DOES help is creating a plan of action of how to act in response to the data. For unions, having designated staff who have the time to review the data, analyze it, make a plan then act accordingly makes all the difference.  

OUR take-away: Regardless of what type of union or union-type organization, you are working for there is so much data that can be tracked and if ANALYZED AND ACTED UPON can make all the difference.  

Big Data for Your Construction Market: It’s the Edge You Need Now

Imagine if you could simply use Google, DuckDuckGo, or any other good search engine to find out every detail about your construction market. What if tomorrow you drive by an unfamiliar construction site? What if use just such a search engine to definitively find out what is going on there AND even learn who is doing the job – without reviewing numerous reports or making tedious time consuming phone calls? What if you could discover every single new permit that was pulled today in your area just with the one click? And one last important one – what if you had someone to tell you – without emotion or bias or self interest – which market sector you should focus your efforts on for the greatest possible benefit?

Having access to a complete picture of your construction market can drive your actions, saving you time and money. CDR can do all of that and more. But the focus of this article is about why I know this is necessary – whatever way you choose to go about it.

Though we can certainly be cautiously optimistic about increases in union membership or support, about growth in specific union strongholds or within specific trades, the numbers haven’t been really great for some time.

Indications from our nation’s leaders and recent legislative actions are certainly less than encouraging. Regardless of any future legislation that may or may not occur – good or bad – organized labor and management needs to be as well armed as possible.

The movement toward big data – whether in education, healthcare, engineering or science – is one that organized labor is particularly well…ahem…ORGANIZED to take advantage of.

Lower membership means less funding, as unions well know. That means it is imperative to ensure that all activities of staff are strategically focused in exactly the areas that are needed. No one wants to waste time and energy.  And in these trying times, no one can afford to. Actions must be strategic, focused, and effective.

Knowing exactly what is going on in your market gives you a jumpstart in building relationships with contractors and owners and gives organized labor an inherent advantage over the competition.

By measuring exactly what is happening, then analyzing that data, you can create a clear plan of action. Making data-based decisions and continuing to analyze the feedback data allows you to find out what is working. And what is not.

Whether you choose to designate staff to collect, organize and analyze all the pertinent information on jobs in your area, or partner with a firm like ours to provide full analysis services and data-backed recommendations, using the data will help to strengthen locals and management alike. At CDR, we firmly believe this is one of the key tools that will help unions continue to make a comeback.


Income inequality has been making the headlines for a couple of years now, especially with the publication of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (I recommend listening to the ebook, by the way – don’t try to slog through the print version).

But the problem is not just income. Here are just a few (of the many more):
– Wealth inequality
– Race inequality
– Gender inequality
– Intelligence inequality
– Social competence inequality

Why have a strong unionized workforce?  So those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be on the up side of all of the above can live decently, too.  And afford all those products the top one-percenters have had made for us by the bottom ten-percenters.

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