Angry SF Carpenters Picket UBC Local 22 Hall Over Discrimination
|Angry SF Carpenters Picket UBC Local 22 Hall Over Discrimination
by Steve Zeltzer
DOZENS of San Francisco UBC Local 22 members picketed their union hall over the refusal of Robert Alvarado, the head of the Northern California Carpenters District Council to enforce residency hiring agreements on many San Francisco jobs. Instead San Francisco carpenters are being told to go to Stockton to get work. This in part came to a head when the last business agent who lives in San Francisco Jim Salinas was fired on a pretext by Robert Alarado without a hearing or due process. Union supporters of Jim Salinas also attended the San Francisco Labor Council meeting on December 8, 2008 where they reported on the unfair firings and the lack of union officials in the local who will really represent them. Under the United Brotherhood of Carpenters corporate executive Douglas J. McCarron, the national union with the support of local union officials around the country has centralized all power in his hands and those of his hand picked leaders of the district and regional councils nationally.
The result has been that locals no longer elect their own full time officials and instead these people are appointed by the district council executives. Alvarado according to many carpenters has hired full time staffers who are not even carpenters to represent carpenters on the job and enforcing the contracts. Workers are not provided with full copies of their proposed contracts and only won the right to vote on the contract after a bay area walkout in the late 90's.
The massive construction collapse is causing a growing frustration and anger among unionized carpenters as they see their work disappear and other union carpenters from throughout Northern California locals coming into San Francisco to take jobs while hundreds of members of UBC Local 22 are out of work.
Additionally, the local has supported projects such as the San Francisco Cesar Chavez/Mission St condo project that required that 50% of the workers be from San Francisco locals. The project's contractors have ignored their promise and refuse to hire San Francisco carpenters and have done this in collusion with Robert Alvarado and his appointed staffers who refuse to enforce these agreements.
The growing collapse in the construction industry including the recent closure of billions of dollars in California construction work by the State of California has been unanswered by the the UBC and the construction trades. There have been no mass protests or demonstrations by building trades workers to demand work and to force the state to make the billionaires pay for the crisis. The growing regional anger against the administration of Robert Alvarado is also being reflected in the establishment of a new website: Northern California Carpenter Watch www.norcalcarpenterwatch.org
This protest will be the first of many protests and probable work actions as unionized carpenters struggle for democratic control of their union and and union that is willing to fight for the membership in a time of growing mass unemployment.
[View the list]