By Rudy Gonzalez | Secretary-Treasurer
The end of the year offers us the opportunity to reflect on our wins and our losses and to take stock of what we’ve accomplished as well as what has been left unfinished.
While challenging at times, perhaps this exercise of reflection can bring us some brief reprieve from the relentlessly spinning perpetual motion machine of our modern lives — from the hum of the jobsite to the incessant beeping of our electronic devices to the needs and desires of the people surrounding us, all of them begging us for more and more of what’s now become a precious commodity in life: our attention.
The world is spiraling. Whether it’s spiraling up or down remains an open question. Certainly, if you’ve watched the news lately, the spiral appears to be heading in a tailspin downward, and even backwards. Fundamental questions of not only the future of work but of humanity itself lie in wait, ready to spring up and confront us in the new year ahead.
But for now, during the season of holiday festivities and family, we ought to pause as we reflect and try to tap into some gratitude. Even our struggles provide opportunities to seek out some form of appreciation.
A sick kid at home prompts warm recollections of our tenacious business managers and fellow union members who held the line on good healthcare benefits during the last round of negotiations. The national interest rate and lingering inflation that are slowing our industry’s work picture also underscore the solvency and potency of our union pension funds, which continue to plug assets into a market that will create more housing and fresh jobsites for us soon. The out-of-work list engenders appreciation for every hour of coming work won in a new project labor agreement.
Even the realities of two wars abroad can generate a sense of gratitude — albeit bittersweet — for the relative peace we enjoy here in the states. The uncertainty of a coming election reminds us that while we have to fight to maintain democratic norms here now more than ever, we remain among the world’s lucky few for whom voting is a sacrosanct right and free and open elections are the absolute expectation.
My hope for all of you is that there’s less struggle in your life and more opportunity for peace and prosperity for you and your fellow worker and for everyone else who matters to you. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate this season, or if you don’t even celebrate one at all, I hope you’re surrounded by solidarity, friendship, and family. In fact, I hope that the entire coming year can be more like that for all of us.
Despite how challenging and exhausting the responsibility can be, I’m so grateful to represent you. You are the hardest-working tradespeople in the industry. I know that I speak for all of the leaders of this council when I tell you that it is truly a privilege to advocate for our members. It’s our honor to lift up your voices and fight to improve conditions for all crafts.
I wish you steady work, safety, and prosperity this season and into the New Year.
Who’s Been a Friend
The position of city controller is one not generally viewed by the public as partisan or particularly concerned with any type of advocacy.
However, the man who fills this position in San Francisco, City Controller Ben Rosenfield, breaks that mold.
That’s because he is indeed biased — he’s partial to the citizens and the public services they rely upon. He has ushered the City’s finances through countless booms and busts, all the while keeping the good of the people top-of-mind.
Sadly, Rosenfield has announced that he will depart from his role as controller at a time of great uncertainty for San Francisco. But the fact remains that the City’s financial position, expansion of reserve funds, and overall ability to weather the current storm all result in no small part from his diligent work over the past 26 years.
His understanding of both the broad strokes and the laser-focused controls that can be used in the budget process or with a ballot measure have built him into one of the most effective and beloved leaders in city government.
Rosenfield’s stewardship has benefited the trades whose members work directly for the City and County and informed their unions’ negotiators on any number of topics. His steady hand has also been an advantage to those of us in the private sector. Though arguably lesser-known and rarely credited, Rosenfield’s work has directly aided the construction sector and provided confidence and integrity where investors might have otherwise taken a pass and literally or figuratively downgraded our reputation as a market player.
As I told reporter Joe Eskenazi at Mission Local during a recent interview, not many people at City Hall have the kind of universal credibility, easy charm, and nerdy know-how that Rosenfield possesses. I’ll miss his technical expertise and his commitment to the City, no matter whether the constituent in question is a businessperson, a mayor, or a union worker.
Thank you for being a friend of the trades, Ben Rosenfield, and best of luck in your future endeavors, wherever they may take you.