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.
The Building Trades know well that the tech industry, so maligned by many San Franciscans, has been good for our work. The protests against Twitter and the tax break that brought it to mid-Market have been held outside a building that put many of us back to work in its reinforcement and renovation. The Nema apartment building across Tenth Street from Twitter employed hundreds of us because Twitter was there to provide it tenants. Overall, many thousands of Building Trades workers have fed their families from the grand harvest the tech industry has provided.
Proposition B, which requires that voters approve any changes in currently zoned height limits on Port land, passed with more than 58% of the vote in the June 2014 low-turnout election. Our fight against it succeeded in reducing its winning percentage from the 75% at which it had polled earlier this year. Given more time to reach voters and an election turnout more robust than this month’s record low, we might have stopped it. Politicians willing to make the case for representative democracy instead of direct democracy, the same case made by James Madison and the framers of our Constitution, would also have helped.
We fall farthest from reflecting the City in having so few women among us. As thoroughly as we have reconstituted ourselves in recent years, our percentage of women remains in low single digits.
In sponsoring Proposition B, the “Voter Approval for Waterfront Development Height Increases” initiative on this June’s ballot, the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club has betrayed its mission and created new threats to the environment.
Reg Theriault died last month. San Francisco workers – workers everywhere – lost someone who wrote about them with knowledge, affection, and honesty. I met Reg in about 1991. I had read his Longshoring on the San Francisco Waterfront, a book bound plainly in yellow heavy stock and small enough for a shirt pocket. Then I found myself welding a moment frame in a street-level shop in the hotel across from the Longshoremen’s hall near Fisherman’s Wharf, and decided at break to go over and see if anyone knew this other Theriault.
In our democratic system, we commonly accept that a fair disposition of certain complex issues is not the province of voters. We entrust justice, for example, to jurors who hear detailed evidence presented under strict rules and arguments for and against a position, who are obliged to sit and listen with no option to switch off the evidence or arguments, and who must then compare their conclusions with those of other jurors until they either reach a joint decision or declare that they are unable to decide. We who are not serving on a jury might have a strong opinion about a very public trial, but none of us would ever entrust justice to our fellow voters in an open election.
Last month, December 2013, the International Union of Operating Engineers rejoined the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Just as the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council is the umbrella organization for construction unions in the City, so the Building and Construction Trades Department represents construction unions nationally; and just as for all but a few of our 118 years the Council has represented all construction unions here, so the Department has with few exceptions in its 106 years coordinated the joint efforts of all our Internationals.