Election Could Haunt Trade Union Boss

There’s a lot of jockeying going on over who will succeed local trade union boss Neil Struthers, but reports of his departure to Sacramento may be premature. In October, the state Building and Construction Trades Council will meet in Santa Monica and vote in a successor to its chief of 20 years, Robert Balgenorth. The two presumed candidates for the position: Struthers, who’s married to Assemblymember Nora Campos, and Robbie Hunter of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties chapter. If Struthers wins, potential successors include right-hand man Mark Van Den Heuvel, VP of the local building trades group, and Teamsters business agent George Netto. The Santa Clara County Building Trades Council’s former Deputy Executive Officer, Josue Garcia, would have been a possibility, but he was bought off with a political appointment as chief of staff for San Jose Councilmember Xavier Campos’ office. (A move we hear Garcia grudgingly accepted. But, hey, someone has to keep Nora’s little brother from doodling all day, right?) Unfortunately for Struthers, our insider with knowledge of the state construction trade council says the chances are slim to none he’ll take the presidency after he and the SBLC “got their asses kicked” in June’s primary. “Neil is known as a follower and not a leader,” our insider says, “which would be fine if they were winning.”

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Wow… and we wonder why the Metro has no credibility with writers like this. The SBLC did get their “asses kicked” in June becasue they were too busy supporting nut-cases like Patricia Martinez-Roach and not legitimate incumbant contenders like Steve Kline or Jimmy Ngyuen. I have a lot more confidence in Xavier than Nora. I am positive he does a lot more than “doodle.”

  2. Neil Struthers has and will continue to help working families get a fair shake in this county. The Building and Construction Trades Council in general helps workers in construction, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal and many other trades throughout the region receive a fair wage and decent working conditions for helping to build Silicon Valley into what it is today.

  3. “Neil is known as a follower not a leader…which would be fine if they were winning.”  That line sums up this challenge vis-a-vis Neil. The working people of California don’t need another follower in Sacramneto who is looking to play politics as usual. We need more LEADERS who aren’t afraid to fight the good fight on behalf of the trades or the other working people in CA.  We have some mighty fights on our hands-fights that will dictate the future of organized labor in CA-not a time for a follower.  As Churchill said in relation to the first major offensive in North Africa in 1940: I don’t “worry” about action, only inaction.

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