Local 509 Served Construction Steamfitters
Steamfitters Local 509 received its charter with jurisdiction in the construction industry in 1911.
Before that, construction steamfitters were members of Local 442.
The creation of Local 509 actually brought a new prominence to organized pipe-trades workers. Now there were two pipe-trades unions in San Francisco, and both were active in the Building Trades Council.
From the start, Local 509 reflected its roots, maintaining strong ties with Local 442.
The two locals joined together to fight the American Plan, and the two suffered together at the hands of the Builders Exchange and the Industrial Association.
Local 509's numbers were small, varying between 75 and 100 members, but they stayed the course, and battled alongside Local 442 to the full 14 months.
Following the long, bitter struggle, Local 509 took steps to organize its craft. Then came the Depression, and as with all other unions in San Francisco, Local 509 lost what it had gained and more.
Still, by 1933 Local 509 members were busy organizing and rebuilding their union.
In 1936 some 60 to 70 refrigeration mechanics from shops and one-man operations throughout the city, were brought into the union.
Virtually unorganized until that point, wages and working conditions in the industry were terrible, and it wasn't until almost two decades later, in the 1950s, that the leadership of Local 38 was finally able to negotiate a contract that brought the construction steamfitters in San Francisco into parity with the union plumbers.
Following the passage of The Shelley-Malone Apprentice Labor Standards Act of 1939, Local 509 established its own apprentice training program. Until that time helpers picked up their skills informally from working with journeymen at job sites.
Finally, in 1947, Local 509 returned to the fold, merging back with Local 442, and with Locals 590 and 769, to create Local Union 38.