The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a seven-year citywide project labor agreement (PLA) that will apply to every city project that costs more than $5 million in the first two years and $1 million projects for the following years, rewarding a years-long effort by SM Local 206 and the San Diego Building Trades to raise working standards in the city. The vote, which took place on January 30, followed a successful referendum in November 2023, when San Diego citizens voted to repeal the city’s decade-long ban on PLAs.

“For decades, San Diego was a test lab for what comes when a greedy, conservative establishment runs a big city,” San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It doesn’t work. This place is too expensive, folks aren’t paid enough, and more and more people are wondering how the hell they will continue to live in San Diego.”

PLAs help prevent worker exploitation and construction delays by setting wages, safety standards and regulations at union-negotiated levels, providing stronger pay and organizing complex jobs to be completed on time (saving taxpayer dollars in the process). They also frequently include local hire requirements and goals for employing historically disadvantaged workers, such as homeless people, veterans and more.

Local 206 Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer Dave Gauthier testifies on the importance of PLAs.

In a city that awards more than 100 contracts (approximately) for construction projects each year, the new San Diego PLA promises years of work for SMART members and construction workers in a city growing ever more expensive to live in. That’s a big deal for working-class people across San Diego, and it’s due in large part to the determination and advocacy of unions like Local 206 in spearheading the successful Measure D referendum.

“I’m very proud to say that our members drove the bus on the passage of Measure D,” said Dave Gauthier, Local 206 business manager and financial secretary-treasurer. “We gave up our weekends and weeknights to repeal the largest PLA ban in the country. Negotiating for and winning this citywide PLA is literally the fruit of our labor, and I’m so happy to share this victory with the entire membership.

“Not only will this PLA provide new career opportunities for our community and more work for our members, it will also help us grow our membership numbers and our contractor base for years to come. We can proudly say that San Diego is now officially a union town!”

The victory on both Measure D and the citywide PLA negotiations demonstrates the importance of members getting involved in the political process. It also showed the power of solidarity across SMART and the labor movement, Gauthier explained.

“We couldn’t have done this without assistance from others in our union,” he said. “We received contributions from the SMART PAL (Political Action League) fund, the Western States Council PAC fund, the California State Building Trades Council and SMART Local 104. We organized a union-first campaign, and we should all celebrate the win together.”

Members of SMART SM Local 206 joined fellow union workers from the San Diego Building Trades on September 26 to usher through a historic victory for workers in the area, with La Mesa, Calif., becoming the first city in San Diego County to pass a citywide project labor agreement (PLA).

The PLA, negotiated between the city of La Mesa and the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, was approved unanimously, and will ensure union pay, benefits and protections for all construction workers on city of La Mesa public works projects.

“Personal politics aside, most of our members know and understand that our local will only endorse and support labor-friendly candidates and legislation,” said Local 206 Business Manager Dave Gauthier. “When we support those that support livable wages and a full family benefit package, our members and our communities do better as a whole.”

“When we support those that support livable wages and a full family benefit package, our members and our communities do better as a whole.”

– SMART Local 206 Business Manager Dave Gauthier

Project labor agreements benefit workers, contractors, project owners and citizens alike by organizing complex construction projects, creating jobs for local community members, providing the necessary skilled trades workforce for complicated jobs. They also help bring projects in on time and under budget – ultimately saving taxpayer money. By providing union-protected wages and benefits for all workers, project labor agreements help lift area residents – including historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities – into the middle class. They also benefit local unions, with many PLAs including union hiring hall requirements.

Local 206 members and other building trades workers showed up to the September 26 La Mesa City Council meeting to speak in favor of the La Mesa PLA – illustrating the difference it makes when SMART members get involved in the political process. Such activism will continue to be crucial as local unions work to take advantage of a union-friendly political climate and funding from federal legislation signed into law by President Biden. Additionally, Gauthier added, pushing for pro-labor legislation like PLAs helps demonstrate the union advantage to working people everywhere.  

“Explaining the benefits of local hire and project labor agreements is actually pretty easy when speaking to working-class people,” he said. “When you tell folks that these agreements benefit their neighbors who wake up early every morning and lace up their work boots, and when they understand that their tax dollars are then being redistributed in the local economy, you can really see the light come on in their eyes. They get it, and then they get what we in labor are all about.”

SMART Local 206 (San Diego, Calif.) sheet metal workers are currently on the job at the IQHQ Research and Development District in downtown San Diego: a large, mixed-use, life science development that spans eight acres and six city blocks. Once completed, it will be California’s largest commercial waterfront site, featuring mid-rise buildings, a 17-story tower, shops, restaurants, a public paseo, roof decks and green spaces.

“Work like this is a testament to our members’ skill, expertise and commitment to safety,” said Local 206 Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer Dave Gauthier. “We are proud to play such a vital role shaping the future of San Diego.”

Four Local 206 signatory contractors are currently on the job. CMF, Inc. workers are performing portions of the architectural work. Local 206 members at California Sheet Metal, meanwhile, will staff the project for one year, with a scope that spans four of the eight areas of work and requires 12,170 shop hours and 14,326 field hours, with 2,700 linear feet of railing and 8,380 square feet of trellis.

Local 206 signatory contractor A.O. Reed was brought on early in the project phase to create unique detailing and constructability ideas to accommodate the project’s scope. The development — which A.O. Reed says is taking place on “arguably the last undeveloped land on the San Diego waterfront” — is estimated to be completed in early 2024.

Block 2B of the IQHQ project includes the 17-story lab/office building with retail spaces at the ground level and second floors. The laboratory spaces require the installation of lab exhaust risers: the largest duct that workers at A.O. Reed have fabricated in the company’s 109-year history. The duct measures 248 by 118 inches and runs from the rooftop on level 18 to level 1. The size and complexity of the duct setting — which necessitated the use of a crane — saw the A.O. Reed BIM team working hand-in-hand with the engineer to pre-plan each step of the process, showcasing the depth and detail of the sheet metal trade as Local 206 members work to ensure the large system operates as efficiently and flawlessly as possible.

Members working for ACCO Engineered systems will spend a total of 16 months on the job — 44,000 work hours in the field, 8,000 work hours in the shop. They have already installed two 264- by 78-inch lab exhaust duct risers with subduct connections, using a tower crane to drop the riser pieces down the shaft and into place. Local 206 workers pre-assembled the supply air duct over the air handling units — sized 204 by 66 inches — on the ground. ACCO employees also built 62- by 15- by 6-foot outside-air plenums, which connected to the curtain wall system out of a gas station panel.

SMART members and fellow workers from the San Diego Building Trades.

The SM Local 206 (San Diego, Calif.) SMART Army helped secure the future for themselves and their fellow workers in La Mesa, Calif. on March 14 — making their voices heard, loud and clear, as the city council voted in favor of a project labor agreement (PLA) in La Mesa.

“The City of La Mesa’s 5–0 Council vote to negotiate a citywide PLA was a huge success for our SMART Army and members of all trades in La Mesa and San Diego County,” said Local 206 Financial Secretary-Treasurer and Business Manager Dave Gauthier.

The citywide PLA legislation, introduced by La Mesa City Councilmembers Colin Parent and Patricia Dillard, will help ensure city construction projects are performed by local union members, with strong wage guarantees, local hire provisions and other stipulations that will lift up working families across the community. By showing up and fighting for themselves and their fellow workers, the members of Local 206 helped guarantee that public projects in La Mesa will benefit local residents — and provided an example of how SMART members across North America can collectively influence their working conditions.

“Congrats to the city of La Mesa for voting unanimously to enter into a Project Labor Agreement,” the San Diego Building Trades wrote on Twitter. “PLAs are good for workers, good for taxpayers, and good for the local economy.”

Thomas Wall

Switchman Thomas A. Wall, 22, of Local 206 (Peru, Ind.) died suddenly on Oct. 19 after experiencing a flare-up of an autoimmune liver disease while at work. His family said that he was responding well to treatment and was looking forward to returning to work after undergoing a few more procedures.

A 2018 graduate of Speedway High School, Brother Wall enjoyed computer gaming and model railroading. After high school, he attended Michigan Tech University where he was a member of the Railroad Engineering & Activities Club. His dream job was to work for the railroad, a dream which came true when he hired on with Norfolk Southern earlier this year.

Brother Wall is survived by his parents Dennis (a retired railroader) and Crystal Wall; sister, Melanie Wall; grandparents, Russell and Janet Beery; many aunts, uncles, cousins and his newly-adopted cat, Nubbs. He was preceded in death by his mother, Terri L. (Glidewell) Wall; grandparents Carl and Jeanne Wall, Hubert Jr. and Gloria Ann Glidewell; as well as an uncle, Edward G. Wall.

Brother Wall enjoyed model railroading.

Donations for funeral costs may be sent directly to the family: Dennis & Crystal Wall, 2726 Patton Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46224.

SMART-TD offers our heartfelt condolences to the Wall family, Local 206 and to all who knew and worked with Brother Wall.

Follow this link to view Brother Wall’s official obituary or to leave condolences.

In July 2022, yet another SMART sister earned recognition from North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) for her hard work and proven track record: Annet Del Rosario, a journeyperson out of SMART Local 206 (San Diego, California).

“Her positive attitude and relentless work ethic are infectious to those around her,” said Local 206 in the NABTU press release announcing Del Rosario’s Tradeswomen Heroes Award win. “I can’t think of anyone that deserves more accolades for everything she means to our local and those lucky enough to be around her.”

Del Rosario joined Local 206 in March 2002, committing to the union’s five-year apprenticeship program in August 2003 and turning out as a journeyperson in 2008. Since then, she has worked in the field as well as the shop on the HVAC side; she’s also served several terms as a trustee and an e-board member. In her current position, she is the shop foreman at Able Heating & Air — the first female to fill each position in the local’s history. Del Rosario’s tireless advocacy continues outside of work as well: She created and is president of Building Trades Sisters, an all-female union trades group in San Diego.

“Annet is the shining example of what can be done when someone puts their mind to it,” added the Local 206 press release. “She has always wanted to put in the work to receive the rewards.”

SMART congratulates sister Annet Del Rosario for this well-deserved recognition!

Members of SMART Local 206 demonstrated our union’s commitment to acting on our values during the San Diego Wounded Warrior Project Carry Forward 5K, held on August 20. Carry Forward 5Ks – which take place at cities across the country throughout the year – are fitness and fundraising events that give participants the chance to both pay tribute to and raise money for wounded veterans, helping fulfil the Wounded Warrior Project’s mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors. During the San Diego Carry Forward run, Local 206 showed out in force.

“The SMART Army represented like no other team in both numbers and dollars donated, with 97 registered and over $10,000 raised,” Financial Secretary-Treasurer/Business Manager Dave Gauthier wrote on Facebook.

As part of the fundraising effort, Local 206 challenged other area labor unions to get involved – and they did, most notably IBEW Local 569. It was a display not just of labor solidarity, but of the vital role union members play in serving their communities.

“Although this money is going to help our wounded heroes, the day had a big impact on our members and their families too, including several of our veteran members – two of them came to us directly from Wounded Warriors here in San Diego,” Gauthier added. “You could see the excitement and appreciation in their faces as we gathered together to make a difference in our community and our country.”