Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SF: Marine Firemens Union

Marine Firemens Union

Marine Firemens Union

A couple of pics of the San Francisco Marine Firemens Union building, at 240 2nd St.

The union has a website here -- their history page is very detailed and interesting. The sad thing many people don't realize is that modern commercial shipping almost always relies on cheap labor from places like Bangladesh and the Philippines, and there are very few US jobs in the industry anymore, union or otherwise. Going by the wage tables at the union site, it looks like many of the remaining jobs involve government contract work, where using US labor is required by law. For a poignant and fascinating look at what remains of the industry (circa 1990), you'll want to read John McPhee's Looking for a Ship, which is a good read even if you have zero interest in this sort of thing.

This beautiful Art Deco union hall harks back to an earlier age, before the jobs literally went overseas. If I was in this union, the building would make me proud and sad at the same time. It appears they now share the space with a few other unions, including IATSE Local 16 (mostly the TV & movie industry) and CWA Local 9410 (mostly ex-Bell System telcos).

My passing involvement with another branch of the latter union is mentioned, a bit, here, although the body of the post is mostly just griping about the company, which doesn't seem as interesting now as when I wrote it. That was written over a decade ago, so maybe I was just more excitable way back then, I dunno.

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