San Francisco Chronicle

N. California Carpenters Launch Wildcat Strike

High-profile projects including Pac Bell Park, SFO affected

Eric Brazil and Larry D. Hatfield


May 20, 1999

Northern California's carpenters, unhappy with a new five-year union contract approved by their leadership, launched a wildcat strike Thursday, interfering with construction at San Francisco International Airport, Pac Bell Park and other high-profile projects in the Bay Area..

More than two dozen Carpenters Union locals in 44 counties, who are affiliated with the Northern California Regional Council of Carpenters, are striking, said Bill Banuelos, a lather with San Jose Local 144.

Airport spokesman Ron Wilson said as many as 200 strikers were blocking entrances to the airport "but most of the several thousand workers here are at work."

He said work was continuing on the $2.4billion airport construction project, the largest airport project in the United States, the largest single construction project in California and the largest construction project ever in San Mateo County. "It's an illegal assembly," Wilson said. "It's not sanctioned by the unions at all. These workers are subject to being arrested. They're also subject to being fired by their employers. They should be working."

As of mid-morning there had been no arrests, although a contingent of San Francisco police was on hand for the demonstration near the TWA hangar on the frontage road south of the airport.

Banuelos said the contract was approved two weeks ago at a meeting in Martinez from which rank and file members were excluded. He said it was the work of Council President John Casey's hand-picked delegates, not those elected by the membership. "We told Casey we wouldn't strike if we got a chance to re vote on the contract, but he told us to shove off," Banuelos said. The contract provides a $5 hourly raise over its length, Banuelos said. "That's not enough to keep up with inflation. We're behind the sheet metal workers, the plumbers, everybody - we're on the bottom of the totem pole."

Casey did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Staci Slaughter, the Giants vice president for Pac Bell Park affairs, said construction might be shut down for the day but that "we're still on schedule" for completion by opening day, 2000.

Return to

(c) All original work Copyright 1998. All rights reserved..