June 5, 2009

If You're Looking To Renovate Or Rewire In San Francisco...

"Unemployment in San Francisco’s building trades sector is over 20 percent, with about 50 percent of unionized electricians out of work, according to San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council President Mike Theriault.

With 16,000 members, that means that more than 3,200 building trades workers are currently without a job. Unemployment among laborers and carpenters is running at more than 20 percent, while iron workers have the lowest jobless rate -- about 10 percent."

Unemployment is over 20% for S.F. building sector [San Francisco Business Times]

First Published: June 5, 2009 3:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

... and if the Supervisors are smart, they will pass the TIC lottery bypass for the many homeowners who have no evictions in their history.

That would instantly create a tsunami of demand for the services of contractors, especially electricians.

It would also benefit homeowners while having no measurable impact upon renters — most of whom are enjoying record-high inventory across the city.

Posted by: (Sorta)NewBuyer at June 5, 2009 4:35 PM

Union electrician rates are twice the non-union rates. TIC owners can't afford to pay inflated pre-recession union numbers. The tsunami risk is negligible.

Union electricians need big fat projects, like 1998 Market Street, which Theriault spent rank and file money fighting at the planning commission yesterday. His third rate attorney has argued (and may even believe) that the native serpentine site is a "Toxic waste site". Fortunately the Commissioners don't buy the hyperbole.

Posted by: theuawsgotnuthinonthebtc at June 5, 2009 5:01 PM

The trades then should really go out and rally the supervisors to pass the TIC/condo conversion bill. Hey, you guys want jobs -- go out and fight for it.

It is really a win-win scenario for everyone with a stake in this since the city would get the much needed income.

Posted by: Live Smart at June 5, 2009 6:49 PM

Commenter #2 is almost right: a good non-union electrician makes more than his Local 6 counterpart because he is allowed to work hard and is allowed to work smart. And the good ones are overloaded with work, even in these trying times.

Theriault has spent the last year opposing those projects at the Planning Commission that stand the best chances of actually getting built and providing work for honest, hard-working construction workers, be they union or non-union: those projects are those whose developers have the guts to stand firm against the intimidation of Theriault's henchmen at Local 6, Local 22, Local 3 etc.) and hire tradesmen based on their capabilities, not their union status or their perceived "right to the job".

Posted by: CrocodileTears at June 5, 2009 9:36 PM

(Sorta)NewBuyer:

When was the last time a homeowner, HOA, or TIC hired union contractors - or union anything?

Posted by: bgelldawg at June 7, 2009 4:41 AM

@bgelidawg,

My point did not apply exclusively to the unions, just as the blog entry did not apply exclusively to the unions. The post noted that demand in the entire sector had fallen significantly. One can logically conclude that all electricians, including non-union, are feeling the pain.

Passing the TIC lottery bypass is the single best way of improving demand for electrical services. There is literally nothing else that the city can do that would come close to matching its impact.

The lottery bypass is one of those rare pieces of legislation that proves to be a win-win for just about everybody: homeowners, labor professionals, and citizens who depend on social services that will otherwise be cut.

Assuming that the lottery bypass is only open to those who have never evicted a tenant — a reasonable caveat — then there is practically no logical argument against it. It is a good move for the city and its citizens. There is precious little room for debate.

Posted by: (Sorta)NewBuyer at June 7, 2009 3:22 PM

@Sorta new buyer... you sound like an idiot with this prattle of yours. How many TIC properties are you trying to unload anyways?

The bypass you speak of isn't going to happen and even if it did would have little to no effect except on the dumbass who signed a TIC mortgage with people s/he didn't know.

As for the article, it is wrong on its numbers of electricians out of work. 30% is more like it, of which a third are apprentices. Unemployment is to be expected in times like these, and if CPMC and UCSF Women and Childrens hospitals had not been dragging feet, it would be far less.

As for the Spiers Bros project and their nonunion cohorts, look only at their success at spots like Sail House((??))(Geneva Ave), Artani (Van Ness @Eddy), and 77 Van Ness Ave when they and their subs could not complete a job on time or on budget. Carried it right over into the biggest housing slump in generations.

Talk about tripping over a dollar to pick up a dime. Imagine what else they skimped on that you cannot see?

And another thought, did they lower their prices to reflect their discounted labor? Of course not, the only people expected to cut prices are the workers building the projects, their families be damned.

Posted by: jtothed at June 7, 2009 4:00 PM

And another thought, did they lower their prices to reflect their discounted labor?

I doubt that you know what they would have been asking otherwise.

Posted by: El-D at June 7, 2009 4:14 PM

"I doubt that you know what they would have been asking otherwise."

HUH?

If you're going to parse out a sentnece and pipe up, then at least make an argument for something.

As to your question, I only know what they were hoping to get before the wheels came off their wagon.

Posted by: jtothed at June 7, 2009 4:57 PM

If you're going to parse out a sentnece and pipe up, then at least make an argument for something.

Ok, here's my argument: you lost me completely with that last thought. Next time you have the opportunity to be more efficient in your work, let us know and we can all make sure you pass along all of the benefit to your customers/clients/investors/bosses.

Posted by: El-D at June 7, 2009 5:52 PM

@jtot,

You clearly don't know much about TIC's or the condo lottery. Sounds like your knowledge of economics is suspect as well.

But on the bright side, you do know an awful lot about labor union gripes. Everyone has it out for the unions. In times like these, my thoughts are with the families of labor union workers, as they are the only people who are losing their jobs right now. People who work as software coders — a job that is not unionized because it did not exist in the 19th century — deserve none of our sympathy.

We middle-class San Franciscans who work office jobs do not have unions. When we lose our jobs, we're on our own. And the only thing we ask of the government is that it ease up on dumb laws that are only in place to protect renters, one of the few demographics who are actually benefiting from this downturn.

Posted by: (Sorta)NewBuyer at June 7, 2009 8:49 PM

Sympathy for the unions?! Are you kidding me!!!! Obama just handed them ownership of the #1 and #3 car manufacturers in the nation (and made taxpayers shoulder the burden of restructuring AND screwed over the secured creditors in the process).

WHY WOULD ANYONE HAVE SYMPATHY FOR THE UNIONS??? They are getting handsomely paid back for years of Democratic support, and can complete the process of running GM/Chrysler into the ground using taxpayer money.

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at June 7, 2009 8:53 PM

"Ok, here's my argument: you lost me completely with that last thought. Next time you have the opportunity to be more efficient in your work, let us know and we can all make sure you pass along all of the benefit to your customers/clients/investors/bosses."

Didn't lose you with my last thought, just didn't give you the numbers. Not my place, more importantly not my point, to give you the information concerning their drop in price for these properties. It's a small town, and three degrees of seperation is all you need to find out a lot of information.

Posted by: jtothed at June 7, 2009 9:29 PM

@Jimmy,

Was that in reference to me? If so, you completely missed my sarcasm. I don't know much about electrician unions, but the teachers unions and the prison guard unions are an enemy of our state.

Posted by: (Sorta)NewBuyer at June 7, 2009 9:41 PM

as for "customers/clients/investors/bosses"

Customers are for arguments sake the general public. They need to be informed by the 'professionals' they work with as to the three major factors in construction. Everybody knows the first two: quality and price.

The third, and the one many readers of this site will agree upon is time.

Time spent renting another home while construction is ongoing. Time spent renting/using a port-a-potty in the driveway.

Time is what they use against you before you finally say 'good enough' and release them from their contractual responsibilities.

Clients are different because to become a client infers that you have had a prior relationship and are entering in to a contract knowingly.

Investors need to refer to the time concept above, but for different reasons. For them time is the difference between money going out and money coming in. Sure 77 & 818 Van Ness saved a marginal amount of money (based on the entire project cost), but they lost a fortune on daily accrual of interest over an extra 12-18 months of construction, not to mention the lack of money coming in over those same months.

Folks plainly put, if you're going to gamble, gamble big. But don't forget to gamble smart, and smart money always knows that the sooner money comes in, the sooner profits do too.

Fianlly, 'bosses'? turn off your AM radio, Rush has been lying to you for years.

Posted by: jtothed at June 7, 2009 9:49 PM

Sure 77 & 818 Van Ness saved a marginal amount of money (based on the entire project cost), but they lost a fortune on daily accrual of interest over an extra 12-18 months of construction, not to mention the lack of money coming in over those same months.

See, this is where I'm 100% with you. This is a thoughtful, coherent analysis that touches on lots of different places I think our society has been failing lately. The crybaby idea that ...the only people expected to cut prices are the workers building the projects, their families be damned... is where your thinking goes off the cliff.

And you obviously didn't parse my thinking if you think my notion of clients/customers/investors/bosses had anything to do with the people who occupy those roles in the housing market. Obviously, you're not getting it.

Posted by: El-D at June 7, 2009 10:17 PM

El-D

Touche, yes I technically parsed your comment, but I couldn't make the point you agreed with, obviously the investor part, without addressing the others as well.

You may not agree with those other parts, but they are things that readers...well at least readers other than you need to read.

As for the conversation and the coherent nature of my comment(s), you need only look at what I am responding to. Quality thought will, or rather should, lead to comparable or better quality responses.

Posted by: jtothed at June 7, 2009 10:32 PM

Sympathy for the unions?! Are you kidding me!!!! Obama just handed them ownership of the #1 and #3 car manufacturers in the nation (and made taxpayers shoulder the burden of restructuring AND screwed over the secured creditors in the process).

WHY WOULD ANYONE HAVE SYMPATHY FOR THE UNIONS??? They are getting handsomely paid back for years of Democratic support, and can complete the process of running GM/Chrysler into the ground using taxpayer money.

It's hard to say it in any polite manner, so I won't try: you are a moron.

Obama did nothing to hand ownership of these companies to the unions - they did it all on their own. Had they actually, you know, funded their obligations as they arose, rather than waiting to pay for them in the future, they wouldn't be in the situation that they are in now.

If you're not familiar with the benefits that have come from labor unions in the US over the last 100 years, you should take a look. There's this amazing search engine called google - check it out!

Posted by: Brian at June 8, 2009 6:33 PM

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