Three SF construction unions plan to renovate SoMa building for new local headquarters

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sprig electric building
The former Sprig Electric building (Image from SF Building and Construction Trades Council newsletter)

Three construction trade unions in San Francisco are preparing to remodel a SoMa building to develop their permanent home.

Glaziers Local 718, Floor Coverers Local 12 and Painters Local 913 will move to the former Sprig Electric building at 60 Oak Grove St. in the second quarter of 2022, after renting space at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 office in Duboce Triangle for many years.

“The availability of funding, combined with the coronavirus pandemic’s downward push on city real estate prices,” triggered the building purchase, Jacob Bourne reported in the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council newsletter on Nov. 5.

“Once it’s remodeled, the two-story building will roughly triple the amount of union hall space available to members of the three aforementioned locals, as well as provide staff offices and space for an array of functions necessary to foster union cohesion.”

“We could get together for a precinct walk in San Francisco on a Saturday and come back and have a barbecue,” Local 12 Business Representative Anthony Nuanes was quoted as saying. “We can’t do that (at our current space) because we’re just a tenant.”

Local 718 Business Representative Bart Pantoja outlined the importance of having space that members can call home — a place, for instance, to hold rallies and phone bankings and meet with elected officials. He said Local 718 has had to move four times over the past 20 years. Meanwhile, Nuanes said that Local 12 hasn’t had a permanent space in the city since the 1980s.

Many months of remodeling work will be needed to get the building ready for its new role.

“San Francisco is a bit of a beacon for the other counties on the peninsula and the coast,” Pantoja said. “We’re excited about the remodel, which will really highlight our finished crafts, with the floors, paint and glass. We’re in the process of working on a design with our architect. We’re definitely going to make the upgrade a sample of our industry.”

Nuanes said that a Local 12 member has already offered antique tools that could be part of a display case to showcase memorabilia and perspectives of the trades from bygone eras. The design process is still in the early phases, and, while nothing has been solidified, the remodel will likely involve the addition of an elevator to the current building, plus an upgrade to the ground-level parking area. There will also be ample space to hold union meetings and some journey-level classes.

“Our members are happy that we have our own hall, and it’s going to be a permanent thing,” said Local 718 President Nick King. “It’ll be a hub for all of our unions. It’s going to create quite a bit of work.”

That being said, King clarified that the project wouldn’t be a major undertaking that would create a construction boom. However, he said that all the trades, including the DC 16 crafts, will have a hand in the job.

“It’s definitely going to put hours into our members’ accounts as far as their healthcare and benefits and pensions,” Pantoja said. “We’re not tearing down the building — we’re just remodeling, so it really will highlight what we do besides new construction.”

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