Kopp, Quentin: Craft Workers Strike 1976


Quentin Kopp: George Moscone was sworn in January 8, 1976. In the normal course of charter procedure, a recommendation was made for the compensation and working benefits for the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, laborers, all of the so-called building trades of employees of the city and county of San Francisco. And it followed the provisions of the charter amendment approved by the voters. It affected – as I recall – pension benefits, retirement benefits, and some other fringe benefits as the term was used in that era. They refused to accept it, and so they went on strike. And that meant all the people who worked landscaping, it meant the plumbers at the airport, at Golden Gate Park, at the Academy of Sciences, it meant the electricians every place. It meant the Hetch Hetchy system with all of its employees who were part of one craft or another. And then the Muni Railway employees went on strike as a show of loyalty and devotion to their labor brethren and sisters, although there weren’t many sisters in 1976 yet. That strike went on for thirty-eight days before it resolved with a compromised kind of agreement, which I didn’t like, but which had been engineered by Dianne Feinstein and I think George Moscone had a part of it. That was a difficult period for George Moscone because he was indebted politically to labor. He stood up! I was president of the Board, and I would preside under the law you could have closed meetings, and we would meet almost every day. By that time, we being the Board of Supervisors, had a labor negotiator. I think he was on the job maybe a year, but this was unprecedented in terms of its length. There had been city strikes when Alioto was mayor. As we know, the police and firemen strike before that in 1974. There was a short one of some carpenters as I recall, and before that in 1970 there was a short one. But this went on and on and on, and it was grinding. There were threats, for example, of damage to the Hetch Hetchy system. There were threats of blowing a hole in O’Shaughnessy Dam. It was serious, and it was scary. George stood the ground which we on the Board of Supervisors occupied. And again, except for one or two, it was solid unanimity. It was a sturdy group, and George was with it every day. Then finally at the end, it slipped away – I’ll use that expression – from me as the leader with conversations that resulted in a compromise that probably wasn’t too obnoxious. I wasn’t happy with it. Barbagelata was very unhappy with it, and vocal about being unhappy.


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

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