San Mateo County Building Trades Council Business Manager Bill Nack Retires
Bill Nack retired as the Building Trades Council Business Manager March 1 after 16 years. Nack served as Business Manager for the SMBCTC starting in 1999, and led the Council in winning new Project Labor Agreements, helping elect Labor-friendly candidates to local and state office, and unifying the building trades unions.
Building Trades union members celebrated Bill Nack’s retirement at the San Mateo County Building and Construction Trades Council meeting Feb. 26.
At the SMBCTC delegates meeting February 26, Bill thanked the building trades unions for supporting him over the years. “Sixteen years on the Council and it seems like yesterday,” he said. “We were in interesting times from 1999 to 2001, with a wildcat strike at SFO and negotiations for a PLA there. The SFO PLA was groundbreaking, and now we have 25 additional PLAs in San Mateo County.” Nack listed several of the project labor agreements he negotiated for the building trades. They include PLAs with the Mills-Peninsula Hospital, San Mateo Union High School District, Bay Meadows, San Mateo Community Colleges, and the Millbrae BART station area. “We are in negotiations for several new PLAs,” he said.
“We’ve had approximately $16 billion in projects in the county that have put our members to work,” Nack said. “This all happened because of the affiliated unions working together—doing the political work, attending hearings, and holding rallies. I have had the backing of every union. We are experiencing good times now because of that solidarity.”
Nack said he was proud of the work of the SMBCTC and said it is, “the best building trades council in the state—if not the country.” He pointed out that the unity between the San Mateo County Building Trades Council and the Central Labor Council has enabled the two organizations to work together on election campaigns and union actions that benefit the entire community. As Executive Officer of the Building Trades Council, Bill successfully brought together developers, environmentalists, contractors, elected officials and neighborhood groups to further labor’s interests by advocating for environmentally responsible projects that include good wages and working conditions, and use of the highest quality materials and construction methods.
Recently, the Building Trades Council and Labor Council worked with community and environmental groups in South San Francisco to win community benefits and union wages in the city’s Downtown Area Plan. Nack said similar efforts are underway to win community benefits agreements in Redwood City, San Bruno, Daly City and San Mateo, and then throughout the county.
San Mateo County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Shelley Kessler commented that, “Many other counties don’t have the kind of positive relationship we have here between the Building Trades and the Labor Council. Under Bill’s leadership, the building trades have stepped up to get more involved in political work, helping to get labor-friendly candidates elected to local office.” She said Bill has been very helpful with policy issues that benefit the labor council as well as the building trades. “Bill helped SFO implement the Project labor agreement,” Kessler said. “It’s a complicated environment with lots of challenges.”
“Bill isn’t afraid to take a strong stand,” Kessler said. “He is principled and dedicated and hard working. On behalf of the Labor Council I want to thank Bill for his hard work, which has improved working conditions for working people in San Mateo County.”
Before Nack was hired as Business Manager for the SMBCTC, he served as Deputy Executive Officer of the Santa Clara and San Benito Building and Construction Trades Council, starting in 1989. In 1987, he was selected Assistant Business Manager for the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Central Labor Council and directed many successful COPE activities.
Trained as an Aircraft Jet Engine Mechanic in the U. S. Navy, Nack began an apprenticeship at United Airlines, and then attained Journeyman Mechanic status and was employed for 21 years. During this time, Bill began an impressive union career with Machinists Local Lodge 1781. He served as a Union Shop Steward for 15 years, actively challenging management and championing the rights of workers on the shop floor. He was an elected officer and member of the Local’s Executive Board, IAM Legislative Committee, Building Corporation, and the Machinists political arm, the MNPL. He was a founding member of a groundbreaking and enduring coalition between the Machinists, Flight Attendants and Pilots unions at United Airlines. Bill was a delegate from Local 1781 to the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and chaired the Labor Council Legislative Committee.
Bill gained a reputation of skill and integrity by the time he was tapped to head the San Mateo County Building and Construction Trades Council. He steered an active Council of 26 affiliated construction and other unions with a total membership of 16,000 union construction crafts men and women. He is a member of Painters and Tapers Local 913 and Roofers Local 95. Bill served on the Executive Board of the State Building Trades Council, and as Second Vice President of the Labor Council.
“Bill Nack is a mentor to all of us in the Building Trades Council and the Labor Council,” said IBEW 617 Business Manager Mark Leach. “The development and planning process always feels like a battle and that’s where we need strong leaders like Bill. Actually building a construction project feels more like a team sport and that’s where Bill has always been our coach, ensuring that we do our best and support our teammates.”
Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 Business Representative Victor Torreano said, “If I were to think about Bill’s gifts and what he brought to the Building Trades and the greater Labor movement, it would be his ability to absorb the emotions of the job and all its baggage and focus on the task before him. The dynamics surrounding negotiating as a Business Manager in the Building Trades is complex. You are dealing with area representatives, locals business managers, developers, community, state and federal leaders and their staff. Each of the affiliated crafts demands its attention. Bill was masterful in dealing with all of these forces and kept his attention on what mattered most: capturing hours for the union worker.”
James Ruigomez was elected as Business Manager of the San Mateo County Building Trades Council in February. Ruigomez said he knows he has “big shoes to fill” and he will work to build on Bill Nack’s accomplishments. “We can increase our market share and get more union projects and maintain area standard wages and benefits,” he said.
Nack said he would work with Ruigomez to continue efforts underway to capture more work for building trades union members and uphold area standard wages. He said the Council was in negotiations with Caltrain for electrification of its system, as well as working towards a county-wide project labor agreement. He urged people to visit the new Facebook campus in Menlo Park, which he said is a beautiful building that was built 100 percent union.
Bill is married to Rayna Lehman, Community Services Director of the San Mateo County Central Labor Council. Together, they have raised two incredible sons, Patrick and Benjamin. Bill was born in St. Louis, raised in San Francisco and has been a San Mateo County resident for more than 50 years.
Bill Nack, retired Business Manager of the San Mateo County Building Trades Council.