Kaiser

On the Jobsite

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About 50 of Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 300's members work for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. With intensifying traffic congestion on the city's streets, many of those members have been tackling streetscape improvement projects all over the city to make conditions safer for pedestrians and commuters alike.

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Imagine building the elevators for the tallest building this side of the Mississippi River, 61 floors and over 1000 feet high. Workers will depend on those elevators everyday to get them to work on time.

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San Francisco is upgrading its emergency response capabilities as historic Pier 26 is being renovated to accommodate three fireboats. Pile Drivers Local 34 members are installing the berths, replacing the old wooden piles with steel piles. When Organized Labor visited the site, pile drivers were on a wooden float chipping away at concrete pieces of the old dock.

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The magnitude of this job site is pretty amazing: four city blocks. And then to see all the different crafts and bring everything together, and everyone has a different function. It’s amazing,” commented Mark Washington, a sprinkler fitter from Texas. His feelings were echoed by his fellow workers at the Transbay Center.

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Viewing the tinted glass panel walls, someone unfamiliar with the construction site at Van Ness and Geary might wonder if this is going to be a northern extension of the South of Market art district. Medical centers tend to be conservative, concrete-block structures with sparse glass, designed to meet OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) standards. That style just wouldn’t do for 21st century downtown San Francisco.

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From its beginnings in 1981, the Moscone Center has grown to a world-class venue with three halls, hosting conventions with visitors from from around the world. Conventions have become a major San Francisco industry. Preparation for each show begins with an empty room. Then Sign and Display workers create a small city from scratch, to the exact specifications of the exhibitors. When the show ends, they tear it back down and start over again.

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Work at 350 Mission Street continues as the site is being renovated to become Salesforce East, West and the future Salesforce Tower, all part of the Transbay area development. One would expect that, as one of the tech leaders in business software, known for innovation, Salesforce would cover the building’s 27 floors in the latest and most innovative styles and the most functional floor system.

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Marble masons fear their craft is becoming a lost art with all the prefab installations and modern factory-like installations, but at 525 Market Street they are working on a job that gives them some artistic satisfaction. Bricklayers, Tilelayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 members are renovating the lobby. They are replacing a traditional marble slab with a mixture of a split-faced marble limestone with a rough cave-like look alternated with courses of the same stone but highly honed, creating a striking contrast.

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The Van Ness and Geary Campus of Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center was still a dirt pit when we visited the site at the beginning of the year to photograph laborers preparing for the foundation concrete pours. When we revisited the site this fall, the metal structure had risen out of the ground and grown several stories.

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Today’s buildings are designed to withstand natural and even man-made disasters. To do that, they must be constructed to the engineers’ specifications. Inspectors and surveyors make sure that everything is constructed according to the approved design.

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