Molinari, Jim: Police Strike 1976


Jim Molinari: Prior to joining Moscone’s staff, I worked as a police inspector with San Francisco police and at the time was assigned to the general works detail when the police went on strike in 1976. So this was a year or so before I became affiliated with the Moscone administration. Interesting times for the police department. Clearly a blue-collar group that was running the POA (Police Officers Association) at the time were in contract negotiations with the Alioto administration that I think in their point of view were not going well. And so they were threatening to walk out and [Blue-flu] and this other stuff. I can remember we were out on a case and in the afternoon came back to the Hall of Justice, and up were the picket lines, and we had a meeting of all detectives on the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice and the administration said, “The rest of the departments’ out on strike. You can work or you can do what you think you gotta do.” And to a person, the whole detective force said, “Hey, we can’t be going out on strike; it’s not right” so we continued to work through that. Downside of that is that the following day they locked us out of the building and we couldn’t get into the offices so we reconvened – at least the group that I was involved with – to Cookies on Kearny Street which was an old saloon run by Cookie Pachetty, and we worked out of that place working like 12-hour days. The very first night of the strike there was an armed robbery of the Francis Drake Hotel, and my two partners and I captured these guys in a gun-fight runnin’ through the streets of Chinatown, catching them up on Grand Avenue. It turned out to be a funny story only because the police car we had at the time was a home car that my partner had; he lived in Pacifica. So in those days the sirens were these kinda whirlwind things and the siren is stuck from the salt, so it’s not working. We’re howling through the streets. These guys were shootin’ at us. It was a strange thing. No sooner do we get that case under control when there’s a bombing at Alioto’s house out on the Presidio Terrace. So here we’re running from place to place. We never did solve the case. We kinda thought it was a spinoff of the strike, but we couldn’t prove it one way or the other, and the case never went anywhere. What that did was it set a tone for labor that the POA lost all of their support that they had on the Board (of Supervisors), and that caused – interestingly enough in today’s time – a pension reform. And a whole new tier of pension provisions were implemented as a result of that strike. So it also set the tone for other labor negotiations that were going on. And then when Moscone was elected, lo and behold he ended up in the middle of a strike with the Plumber’s Union, and ended up filing charges against Joe Mazolla, the head of the Plumbers. It was a nasty fight that was going on during this whole tenure.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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