Breslin book is call to arms for union construction workers

Guide offers frank appraisal of what it takes for individuals to survive — and thrive — in a rapidly changing industry

THE DAYS OF union dominance in the construction industry are long gone, observes Mark Breslin in his book, Survival of the Fittest. Labor’s share of the construction marketplace has shriveled to a mere 15 percent of the available work. Not that long ago, the building trades dominated with an 85 percent share.

But Breslin isn’t one to wring his hands or wistfully long for the old days. Survival of the Fittest instead offers practical, useful advice geared to the individual union member. His book is an everyday guide that should appeal to the newest apprentice as well as the most veteran journeyman.

Breslin writes in a conversational style that makes it easy to zoom through the book’s 162 pages in a few hours. He covers the bases well in 16 quick-read chapters that address such topics as responsibility, commitment, attitude, money, and success. He devotes individual chapters to apprentices and foremen.

The essential theme running through the book is that for union construction to survive and recapture lost market share, individual union members must step forward and prove everyday they are the most skilled, most reliable, and hardest working employees available. They must demonstrate that their level of excellence justifies higher compensation than their nonunion counterparts. And they must become walking billboards for union excellence both on the job site and in the community.

In short, to survive in the 21st century construction industry, individual union workers must change, adapt, and be the “fittest” of all workers.

Breslin admits that change is hard for many people, but stresses there is no room for number two in construction. Only number one will thrive, and the benefits of being number one — higher wages, better benefits, and respect — will be worth the effort.

No stranger to the construction business, Breslin is a fourth-generation contractor turned consultant, author, and speaker. He has addressed numerous labor organizations in North America — including the Boilermakers’ winter construction conference in 2006 and the tripartite conference in 2007.

The Boilermaker Reporter reviewed Breslin’s earlier book, Organize or Die in the Jan.-Mar. 2007 issue (page 15).

Learn more about Survival of the Fittest and Organize or Die online at; by phone at 866-351-6275; or by writing to Mark Breslin, 2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd., #4-230, San Ramon, CA 94583.