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When he began his career in labor and construction, Pat Mulligan didn’t necessarily envision himself as a future administrator in one of the nation’s most progressive offices of labor enforcement.

Building and trades union members are critical to maintaining the buildings and systems that power the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Starting in mid-March 2020, these members have had a unique opportunity to make significant and uninterrupted repairs on everything from windows to sewage systems.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed stands with Laborers 261 members and others during the grand opening of Latino Task Force’s Mission District vaccination center, located at the 261 union hall, on April 15.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed stands with Laborers 261 members and others during the grand opening of Latino Task Force’s Mission District vaccination center, located at the 261 union hall, on April 15.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the San Francisco Bay Area early and hard. But the distribution of COVID cases and the resources used to track and treat those cases were unequal.

Laborers 261 member Anthony Travis works for the San Francisco Water Department.
Laborers 261 member Anthony Travis works for the San Francisco Water Department.

In combat, a solider is trained to never leave a fallen squad member behind. There is a similar code among union brothers and sisters.

Seniors, people with disabilities, and those with mobility issues are finding the city easier to navigate thanks to union labor. That’s because members of several San Francisco building and trades locals build accessibility measures into sidewalks, roadways, and common areas like plazas.

With the costs of construction materials rising over the past year, local contractors and union representatives have expressed concerns about how projects and jobs are impacted.

Sign Display Local 510 has taken extreme efforts to assist members through the COVID-19 pandemic. Members are now regularly receiving state and federal benefits, updates on changes coming to the trade show and convention industries, and information about volunteering in their communities.

Eight-four years ago this month, construction wrapped on the Golden Gate Bridge. Dubbed “a perpetual monument that will make this city’s name ring around the world” by the San Francisco Examiner in 1925 and “one of the greatest monuments of all time” by Consulting Architect Irving Morrow at the time of its opening, some might argue the bridge — which attracts 10 million tourists each year and sees 41 million motorists make the trip across annually — is the world’s greatest perpetual monument to something else, too: union labor.

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