UA Local 38

Local 769 Fought for Safe Building Codes

To the north of San Francisco lay the rural, largely agricultural counties of Marin and Sonoma.

Unlike the city, the area was never considered a "union town," nor was construction much of an industry throughout the first part of the 20th century.

The first Marin plumbers union was UA Local 323, established in 1909.

Because construction was sparse and plumbing companies relatively few, Local 323 worked hard to establish local building codes.

In 1910, Local 323 was the prime force in introducing the first sanitary code in the city of San Rafael.

But because of the nature of Sonoma and Marin counties, membership was always low, and in 1918 the local was merged with Local 442 out of San Francisco.

By 1939, however, the counties were experiencing a steady growth in construction, and union sentiments were growing.

There was a move to create an independent local for the two counties, and in 1939 a charter for Marin Plumbers, Local 769 was issued by the United Association.

The new local decided to follow in the footsteps of Local 323, and concentrate primarily on political action to encourage the enactment of local building codes.

During this time the local established an apprentice training program, and financed a business agent with a 50-cent-per-day assessment.

On weekends members would canvas Marin County, looking for building code violations, and checking that UA members were not doing unauthorized work.

By the time World War II started, the local's ranks had swelled to 90 members. They expanded their apprentice program, and continued to grow.

By the time the 1947 merger came about, Local 769 brought 127 members into the newly formed Local 38.

Although no longer an independent local, North Bay plumbers continued to be important to the United Association, and, in fact, their importance grew.

From 1950 on, Marin and Sonoma counties shared in the building boom that affected the entire Bay Area, and a substantial number of Local 38 members made a living in the North Bay.

During this time Lake County was added to Local 38's jurisdiction. And in 1960 the Geysers Geothermal Plant in Sonoma and Lake counties opened, providing continuous work for Local 38 members for nearly 30 years.

Throughout that time, Local 38 maintained offices in San Rafael and in Santa Rosa to represent its North Bay members.

Though the San Rafael office was closed in 1989, Local 38 continues to operate a Union Hall and dispatch office, as well as the Joseph P. Mazzola Training Center, in Santa Rosa.

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