About SFCWU

We are a public worker union comprised of San Francisco City & County employees who have freely contributed personal time and resources in a grassroots movement for something we all believe is long overdue in San Francisco, a truly democratic member-controlled local labor union.

SFCWU formed as an independent member ran and controlled, public local labor union free from political, economic or, self-enriching interests and motives. The primary purpose of SFCWU is to improve the working and economic conditions of our members and the communities in which they live.

SFCWU was incorporated in January 2012, held its founding meeting on February 10, 2012 and was granted non-profit status in May, 2012. Our leaders are rank & file public workers dedicated to furthering the interests of working people in their quest to be free from the forces that seek to dissuade them from individual free will and dignity.

The specific purpose of this corporation is to provide exclusive representation for members concerning all matters within the scope of employment. To advance and improve the employment conditions of the members. To negotiate and enforce the terms of collective bargaining agreements, and memorandums of understandings for members in represented bargaining units. To strengthen and improve the general welfare of the members; and to promote friendships, harmony, and cooperation among employees and employers.

Dedicated to the Memory of Dow Wilson

Our present members consist of public sector construction trade journey level Painters. Many of our current ranks were once proud members of District Council 8 and San Francisco Painters Local Union No. 4, lead by Dow Wilson until his untimely murder which was ordered by the leader of District Council 16 (Ben Rasnick), in 1966.

The murder was carried out on April 5, 1966, by convicted co-conspirators Norman Call, Carl Black and Max Ward. (See Simmonds v. Superior Court 245 Cal. App. 2d 704 [Civ. No. 23780. FirstDist., Div. One. Oct, 19, 1966.] and, People v. Ward 266 Cal. App. 2d 241 [Crim. No. 6424. First Dist., Div. Two. Sept. 30, 1968.] The ensuing “bad blood” carried on over the years until 2002, when Painters Local Union No. 4 was
taken into trusteeship stemming from unproven allegations of financial misconduct.

​A Brief History

A long-standing history of hostilities between San Francisco City Painters, once proud members of San Francisco Painters Local Union No. 4, and District Council 8, (dissolved in 2002) by the International Union of Painters, and Allied Trades (IUPAT), then forcibly merged with District Council 16, and Local Union 1176 in Oakland, CA, date back to the1960’s, with the assassination of San Francisco Painters Local Union No. 4 leader, Dow Wilson.

On February 25, 2010, revolt broke out amongst the painters of the City & County of San Francisco against the Auto, Marine and Specialty Painters, Local Union 1176 (District Council 16.)

The cause of the uprising was over the local Union 1176 & DC 16’s, attempt to raise membership monthly dues from $55.00 to 3.5% of gross pay. An estimated 300% increase. After the proposal was put to a vote on three separate occasions and defeated, local 1176 and District Council 16 Union representatives informed the previous members of San Francisco Painter’s Local Union No. 4, that the new price for dues membership would simply be implemented. After the first meeting of January 25, the painters meet outside the union hall where the proposal was unveiled in disbelief, and they began to organize against what they perceived to be a treacherous dictatorship.

Continuing the organizing process, a member of the assembly of painters was selected by the members to officially organize and incorporate SFCWU. The Incorporator then appointed the initial directors of the new corporation. The Directors then held an election for interim offices to be filled for one year until the full assembly of painters could hold the new labor unions first full-term election. The election results were as follows: Liam Kenny, President, Gerald Maxwell, Vice President, Douglas Bias, Secretary/Treasurer, Steven Galan, Director, Osvaldo Lugo, Director, Gilbert Fragoso, Director and Charles Ward, Director, created San Francisco City Workers United, a new nonprofit Mutual Benefit Organization under the laws of the State of California in an attempt to resolve the issues of inadequate representation that existed under the auspices of Auto, Marine and Specialty Painters, Local Union 1176.

Since 2002, the Auto, Marine, and Specialty Painters, Local Union 1176 were the incumbent exclusive representative for employees within Bargaining Unit No. 2. On April 3, 2012, the San Francisco City Workers United (SFCWU) filed a petition with more than 90% proof of support of employees within Bargaining Unit 2 requesting decertification from Auto, Marine and Specialty Painters, Local Union 1176.

The procedures for the Decertification/Recognition election have been developed and initiated in
accordance with Section 16.211 and Section 16.212 of the Employee Relations Ordinance
(ERO). The Employee Relations Ordinance Administrator conducted an election by secret mail
ballot among the eligible employees of Bargaining Unit 2 to determine whether or not the
exclusive representative, Local 1176, continued to represent a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit. If the employees voted to select SFCWU for Recognition or No Organization,

the employees also had to select decertification from Local 1176. Ballots had to be received in
the Civil Service Commission Department by close of business on June 22, 2012 to be
considered valid. The Employee Relations Ordinance Administrator tallied the ballots on June
25, 2012. The results of the Decertification/Recognition election were that the Auto, Marine and
Specialty Painters, Local Union 1176 had been decertified as the exclusive representative of
bargaining unit 2. The newly formed union named, San Francisco City Workers United is now the exclusive representative.

Such a decertification of old, and selection of new exclusive representative has not occurred in the City and County of San Francisco bargaining units in recorded history.