Bohemian Club workers demonstrate during 1987 contract negotiations.

Photos and text copyright 1998 Kerry Richardson

In the late summer of 1987, Local 2 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union was attempting to negotiate a new contract for its members who worked at the Bohemian Club's San Francisco headquarters. During the course of those negotiations, the union organized several demonstrations, one of which is pictured below. The article below was written during the time period the club's management and the union were negotiating. An agreement on a new contract was reached some weeks later.

Late August, 1987:

Local 2 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union is currently negotiating a new contract with the Bohemian Club and about a dozen other private clubs in San Francisco. Collective bargaining talks between the city's largest union and the exclusive men's club have been underway for almost a month and workers are presently working without a contract, the old agreement having expired August 1. The negotiations affect around seventy workers at the club's San Francisco headquarters, and separate negotiations with other private clubs are also underway. The union regards the Bohemian Club as the most prestigious of the private clubs and the one with the most aggressive management.

Recently, the union has been sending multi-racial delegations of union members, male and female of different age groups, to the offices of individual Bohemian Club members in San Francisco to explain the contract proposals put forth by the club and why they are not acceptable to the union. According to Local 2 press representative Tim Reagan, the delegations typically are about fifteen people and for the past three weeks as of August 28th, they had been calling on one or two Bohemians per work day, sitting in their office lobby and asking for a brief meeting. Responses have varied with some club members listening respectfully, some arguing, and a few refusing to meet at all. In the latter case, larger union delegations went back to try again. About 130 people tried to see club member Del Fuller at the Pillsbury Madison and Sutro law firm on Tuesday, August 25th, and on Thursday, August 27th, about 80 tried to meet with Club members Richard Madden and Robert DiGiorgio at the Alcoa Building. Madden was identified as Chairman and CEO of Potlatch Corporation and DiGiorgio as a board member of the DiGiorgio Corporation.

Early September, 1987:

On September 2nd, Local 2 held a "Boho Safari" through a wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, stopping in front of the residences of Bohemian Club members. Several of the homes had assessed values of over a million dollars. On Labor Day, September 7th, the union sat-in in the lobby of the club's Taylor Street headquarters. Thirty-three people were arrested and cited for trespassing. In Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., cooperating HE&RE locals have been sending delegations to meet with club members in those cities.

According to Tim Reagan, there are four main areas in the Bohemian Club's offer that are unacceptable to the union: first, major reductions in employer participation in worker health, welfare, and pension fund plans, particularly in medical benefits for retirees; second, the club wants to do away with the seniority system of scheduling, layoffs, and promotion; third, the club wants the right to subcontract out any and all work; fourth, a wage cut that for waiters would mean $25.80 for a three hour shift at the city club as opposed to the present $33.86. Club waiters' wages are higher than those of waiters at public restaurants because of the club's no tipping policy. In addition, an attempt by the club to lump negotiations for a new contract for workers at the club's Bohemian Grove country retreat together with the city workers' contract negotiations has resulted in unfair labor practice complaints being filed. The contract for union workers at the Bohemian Grove does not expire until May of 1988 and the union intends to renegotiate it at that time.

Above: Union members and supporters after a September 2, 1987 walking tour of a wealthy San Francisco neighborhood. The union representing workers at the Bohemian Club was in the midst of contract negotiations and demonstrators stopped in front of several residences of members of the Bohemian Club.