labor

Wildcat! The 1999 SF Bay Area Carpenters Wildcat Strike: A Video Documentary

In the late ’90s, construction was booming in northern California. That’s why carpenters were pissed off when their union leadership settled a cut-rate contract that the members didn’t even have the right to vote on. So some 2,000 of them conducted a wildcat strike to protest. Here, for the first time, is some video documentary of that strike. It contains important lessons for today. For a more complete written history of the wildcat strike, see this article.

There was a follow-up general conference of carpenters to talk about what we were fighting for. It can be seen here.

While the names and faces of the leadership have changed, their policies haven’t. In July’s issue of the The Northern California Carpenter*, put out by the N. California Regional Council of Carpenters, Bob Alvarado, EST of the council, talks about “every nonunion company and construction worker we compete with.” It’s not that we union carpenters should join with and organize the nonunion; instead we have “joined” with the union contractors! This just means more of the race to the bottom. For a more complete analysis of this, see this pamphlet.

* – Note: This magazine now has articles translated into both Spanish and Chinese. That is a direct result of our wildcat strike. During the strike, we translated almost all our leaflets into Spanish and had a Spanish translation of our telephone messages. We overheard the union leadership commenting on this and shortly after the strike they started doing the same. That was at least one accomplishment of our strike!

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