San Francisco building inspectors become full members of Teamsters 856

Mark Wahls (left) and Ed Donnelly (right) are the vice president and president, respectively, of the Building Inspectors Association of San Francisco.

This month, City and County of San Francisco building inspectors officially became full members of Local 856.

The group originally joined Teamsters 856 as affiliate members in 2015 to align their 51-year-old independent association, the Building Inspectors Association of San Francisco (BIASF), with a strong union that could represent them at the negotiations table and in day-to-day matters.

“With our last few contracts it was clear we couldn’t have done it without Local 856’s help,” said Ed Donnelly. Ed is the president of the BIASF and has been a building inspector for the City and County for 13 years. “And on the heels of this last contract, we started to discuss becoming full members.” 

The building inspectors’ most recent contract, which was approved by the membership in May, included wage increases over the three-year term of the agreement as well as additional percentage increases for earning extra work certifications.

Just months after ratifying their contract, an overwhelming majority of the members voted to become full Teamsters.

“Building inspectors take on the important responsibility of ensuring structural safety and therefore, the public safety for the millions of people who work in, live in, and visit San Francisco,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters 856 Principal Officer. “We are excited they have chosen to join Local 856 as full Teamsters and are proud to include them among the ranks of all of our public service members who work so tirelessly to keep our communities running.”

While many of the building inspectors work in the field inspecting construction projects to ensure compliance with San Francisco building code, others work in a variety of roles throughout the city, including code enforcement, focused on access to buildings for people with disabilities while others check plans for residential remodels, new skyscrapers, and city-owned projects.

Many of the building inspectors are looking forward to the exclusive benefits that come with full Teamster membership, including member-only discounts and eligibility for Teamster scholarships. But on top of these union benefits, they are all looking forward to the strength that comes with building Teamster power in the city.

“The building inspectors join fellow Local 856 members who work at the City and County of San Francisco – members in the multi-unit, which includes animal care and control, parking meter repair, juvenile hall, microbiologists, and several classifications at the Department of Health as well as members in the nurse managers unit,” said Mark Leach, Local 856 representative.

“The Local 856 motto: ‘strength in numbers’, resonates with our members,” said Ed. “In the public sector and the private sector, it’s always better to have a union and who better than the Teamsters.”