Tim Paulson, headshot

Absentee ballots for all California voters are going out at the beginning of October. The majority of Americans already vote by mail. I do. It is convenient and I am usually working by the time the polls open on Tuesday, November 3rd, so I plunk mine in the mail within a day or two of when I get the ballot at my house. I suggest that if you are too busy to go to the polling station on election day that you fill yours out and mail it early. Voting is the best way to make your voice heard.

In this edition of Organized Labor you will see the building trades endorsements here in San Francisco and for state offices. We will put the list up again next month for your convenience also.

Please call your union hall or read about other union and labor endorsements that you may need if you don’t live in the City. There are many ballot measures and city council, supervisor and school board candidates that we have all debated, discussed and interviewed so that we can endorse candidates and ballot measures that support working men and women. Please vote for union endorsed candidates and ballot measures. Please vote for those candidates that fight for good jobs.

On a national level it has become very clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the clear choice to lead our country in the right direction. The former Vice President and the United States Senator have a track record of fighting for the middle class and good jobs. Trump promised that he would create new manufacturing and high wage jobs and some of us made the mistake of believing him. He lied to get elected and now everything is getting worse.

It’s time for a change! Please vote to elect Joe Biden to be our next president! Please vote to make our own Kamala Harris our next Vice President.

All of you are hopefully working. I know your business agents are out in the field checking jobs and troubleshooting on your behalf. At the building trades council your Secretary-Treasurer and Sandra Duarte, my assistant, have a different reality during this health crisis:

Our two business agents and two delegates meetings each month (4) are held via Zoom calls. Sandra sends out the agenda, correspondence and Zoom link each week. (No more meeting in person at Local 6 and Local 104.) All the minutes are recorded in this newspaper like they have been for 120 years. (San Francisco State Labor Archives has digitalized all copies since 1900 if you ever want to see historic and past editions. The next 20 years will be tracked soon.) All our correspondence is via email or the U.S. Postal service.

Sandra is confined to shelter in place (SIP) at home and I talk to her every day and we communicate by email. She was supposed to start back at 3 days a week but our building’s protocol is still not completed so she comes in once a week to get the mail and make sure I sign the checks and administrative documents needed. I have her set up at home with her cell, a laptop, printer and scanner. She can check the voicemail remotely.

All our prejob conferences are done on the computer via Zoom, Bluejeans, Google, Skype, etc. and I’ve learned more about those applications than I ever thought I would. Sometimes I have to run one of these calls with dozens of contractors and dozens of business representatives and it can be a challenge keeping folks’ disciplined to talk from so many different stations. Sandra manages that challenge.

All our PLA bargaining, and collective bargaining is done on the computer.

(I had to chair the labor caucus at the California Democratic Party a few Saturdays ago with over 200 people on the Zoom call including Art Pulaski and Robbie Hunter and elected statewide legislators as presenters and needed Sandra and a Party staffer to sort through the “waiting room” and keep people muted and unmuted when necessary).

I haven’t been on a plane or traveled out of town in months. I haven’t had a haircut since April. (I made the mistake of telling folks that I had an appointment in Sonoma a month ago when that county “opened up” and I was bombarded with shame that getting a haircut was more dangerous than getting on a plane or going to a crowded movie theater….) As I write this column at noon, I am looking out the window of my house towards Twin Peaks and the view is dark orange as Sutro Tower sneaks out of the dark haze. Streetlights are still on. High noon…..

Half the state is burning. Labor Days picnics were cancelled for the first time in recorded memory. I get out to a grocery store once a week with the excitement of a little kid going to Disneyland for the first time.

Quite a work life but all of us at the building trades council and affiliate unions are working harder than ever. And we will persevere if we are smart and patient.

Wear your damn masks!

Be safe.

Organized Labor


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