By Sean Fallon:
Count me in.
It’s a simple phrase that lets others know you are ready to commit to something. It is also a call
to arms for the labor movement.
For labor unions, considered the backbone of industry in the United States, “Count Me In” is its
call to arms to preserve quality and craftsmanship that not only symbolizes this country, but
In many large cities, where major building projects are underway every day, labor unions are
under attack as builders seek to eliminate union presence at the worksite by increasing the
number of non-union workers on the job. For the builder, it’s an attempt to reduce labor costs
despite the fact that it results in an inferior product, often built under unsafe working
Labor sees this as an attack on unions as well as the working class, the very people that built
the steel and auto industries among others. And, as is usually the case when labor unions are
threatened, they will not go quietly.
Enter #CountMeIn. In an age where campaigns are often waged via hashtag, labor unions have
launched the #CountMeIn movement. The objective is to call out corporate greed that affects
the livelihood of tens of thousands of union workers,
This Spring in New York City, the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) organized a
demonstration by thousands of construction workers that flooded the streets to protest the use
of non-labor workers on several construction projects in the city, particularly the Hudson Yards
project, the largest private real estate project in history covering 18-million square feet that
includes a 51-story office tower. A dramatic and emotional video capturing the event can be
viewed at nabtu.org.
As an unidentified union member stated at the opening of the video: “This is a #CountMeIn
rally where thousands of members are turning out to stand up and protest against related
companies and Hudson Yards construction for their anti-union open shop/broken shop model.
Our voices are going to be heard and we’re going to be loud and make our point today.”
The Hudson Yards project is a true litmus test for unions, not only for New York City, but for
cities across the country. In the current political and economic climate, laws and regulations are
being pushed through with the intent of weakening unions and the way of life unions provide in
terms of pay and benefits that allow Americans a way of life they deserve.
The Philadelphia/South Jersey area is one of the areas that could feel the impact of the
#CountMeIn movement. Many experts see labor in New York as the barometer for the rest of
the country. If non-union workers take over major construction jobs, then developers in other
cities will do the same. It’s something that unions are working non-stop to prevent and hope
the public will rally around them as well.