Capitol One

Building the Trades

Michael Theriault, Executive Secretary-Treasurer

Michael Theriault, Executive Secretary-Treasurer

Mike has been a member of the Ironworkers Union since 1985. He was appointed as Business Representative with his Local in 2001 to fill out the unexpired term of retiring Randy Oyler. He was elected in his own right to a second term in 2003. Mike has been an active participant in the Business Agents meetings for the last several years. He has worked with Stan Warren and Larry Mazzola in support of union issues at San Francisco City Hall. He has spent long evenings speaking in support of union projects at the City Planning Commission, The Board of Supervisors, The San Francisco Unified School District and the San Francisco City College Board to name a few.

Bernie Sanders’s run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination may not be formally ended, but it’s done. His followers will lament that the party’s pulpit is no longer shared by a preacher who favors jeremiads on rising inequality and the failures of the economic system. They – and we – should now remember Occupy.

Readers of Organized Labor who peruse the minutes of Delegates meetings of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council will note this month and next a sequence of contradictory actions.

In late March the California Building and Construction Trades Council and the Laborers’ International Union of North America brought delegations of American trade unionists to Ireland for the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Modular construction has long been a dream of developers. Any business looks to reduce labor costs wherever possible. As inadequate as our wages may be to us in the Trades in this costliest of places to live, to many a business we are an expense that should be reduced.

Every Building Trades worker knows that numbers have consequences; work must fit within numerical tolerances. Exceeding them can turn a project from profitable to money-loser, as damage ripples out into costly adjustments.

Economic debates can seem abstract and even bizarre to those of us who have made livings with hammer or trowel in the world of the real and the solid, but they often determine whether or not such livings are possible.

The many tower cranes weathervaning in off hours in the winter winds give no indication of it, but we in the Building Trades are entering a dangerous moment for our work in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle has amplified the role of Chinatown in the election of Aaron Peskin to the Board of Supervisors from District 3. A close look at the numbers shows that this role was mixed, with some precincts going for Peskin and others for our and the mayor’s endorsed candidate, Julie Christensen.

Almost any large private construction project seeking City approval meets opposition. Often the stated reasons of opponents are straightforward, like increased traffic, or loss of hotel worker jobs.

Our meeting minutes published monthly in this newspaper have recently reported on negotiation of several project labor agreements, or PLAs.

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