by Tim Paulson, Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
The victories in November’s election are still reverberating. We flipped every anti-union legislator in Congress in California. And, as you read this column, our very own Nancy Pelosi is trouncing President Trump with her wisdom and grace as we await her election as Speaker of the House.
Her taking back that seat is not only energizing, but also historic. The last time a former Democratic Speaker returned to this position was Texas’s Sam Rayburn, who had two terms in the 1940’s and 1950’s and his name is now attached to the Congressional office building on Capitol hill in Washington, DC.
Nancy has made it clear that building walls and destroying Social Security and Medicare is not what American workers want. We are proud of her and ashamed at the amateurs who think she should be replaced. Any good union organizer knows that his or her successor has to be thoughtfully mentored, negotiated with and willing to succeed because of his or her energy, intelligence and experience. Leaders rise. Posers are exposed.
On the front page of this Organized Labor newspaper, we announced that we finally completed a first, and hopefully, final hurdle in our long fight for a Citywide Project Labor Agreement at the Board of Supervisors. On December 11 the first vote was 11-0!
In San Francisco, ordinances have two readings, and the final vote will be in January. And, as I said in my last column, legislation in San Francisco is never over until the final vote and the ink dries from the Mayor’s pen. So, we will stay diligent until after the holidays.
I want to thank Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Ahsha Safai, Sandra Fewer and Mayor London Breed for being the co-sponsors and negotiators of this legislation. And the Building Trades Council is thankful, as well, to all the others Supervisors for supporting the building trades and voting unequivocally “Yes.” Unanimous!
Again, this legislation, when passed, will ensure every publically sponsored construction job in San Francisco will not only be at prevailing wages (which already is the law and in the City charter) but under the terms of all our collective bargaining agreements. When passed, this will be historic for San Francisco as well as America.
San Francisco is a union town!
Working with my successor, Rudy Gonzalez at the San Francisco Labor Council, I also want to thank you and your members for honoring the picket lines of Unite Here Local 2 hotel workers at the Marriott hotels in San Francisco. I know many of your contractors were put in a bad position because of our Solidarity, but your unity helped get hotel workers a great historic contract. Rudy lead a solid campaign with all of us. This was a model for America of how the building trades and labor councils can coordinate.
Local 2 workers stayed on the picket line for eight weeks. Unprecedented in this age. They were the last to settle of the eight cities who took on Marriott. And we should give reports on this campaign at all our union meetings to let our members know the details and strategies of how striking and withdrawing our work is the fundamental right that we have to bargain good contracts.
And building trades contributions to the strike fund were also instrumental to the solidary of this historic campaign. And Unite Here Local 2 asked me to thank you for your contributions.
So this issue of Organized Labor is the holiday issue. And I will comment that everyone is telling me that construction work is still great. And it is. The towers and cranes are still going up in San Francisco. Pundits and economists are saying that a downfall is imminent. Whatever. I have a degree in economics. Economics is known as the “imprecise science.” My degree and 3 bucks gets me on Muni. Someone told me that if you laid every economist in the world on their back to stretch across the world, that that would be a good place for them. We don’t acquiesce to Wall Street.
We will continue to fight for our standard of living. And I will promise to continue, as your new Secretary-Treasurer, to protect and advance the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades unions and members!
Happy Holidays, colleagues!