On the Jobsite

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With the tag line of “High Performance/High Value,” District Council 16 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades is an alliance of the finishing trades unions, including glaziers, floor coverers, tapers and painters. Their logo is a lion, and they are a high-powered organization, united by the goal of finishing buildings with style. They represent workers in Northern California and Nevada.

The trade show and convention industry is one of the fastest growing industries in San Francisco, and trade show installation is one of the newest trades. Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union Local 510 started in 1900 organizing outdoor commercial sign painters and later billboard painters. The modern display industry in San Francisco began in the late ’60s, took off as a showcase for the booming computer tech industry in the 1990s, and then became the technology extravaganza it is today. 

Drive down Third Street past Mission Bay, past Dogpatch, then out Cargo Way past the gravel yards, and you’ll come to what feels like the end of the world. In the cold, grey fog, where the land meets the bay, members of Pile Drivers, Divers, Carpenters, Bridge Wharf and Dock Builders Local Union 34 wrestle into place telephone-pole size timbers they are using to repair the docks of Pier 94 

The Mission Bay project includes 13 blocks of mainly residential apartments, including high-end executive, market-rate, and low-income units, and some commercial space. On the Job Site visited with members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 as they were working on seven buildings consisting of 1,297 apartments.


Foundry Square, at First and Howard, is a complex of office buildings with large, inviting granite patios. The patio at Foundry Building III is comprised of about 1,500 magnificent black granite pavers that can weigh several hundred pounds each and require 6 men to put in place.


Being an ironworker takes a certain temperament. The men and women of the trade have to be meticulous with safety and the standards that form a building’s structure, but they also need to be flexible with their skills to adapt to the needs of every project. At the end of the day, they’re known for doing what needs to be done.


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