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Carpet, Linoleum and Soft Tile Workers local 12
Organized Labor
October 2007

In his 20 years of installing floor coverings, Anthony Putnam has torn up a lot of floors he had put down to replace them with the newest style. “The tenants have changed and now they want something new.” When they pull up the old floor, they often find messages written on the back of the carpet or tile. What do the messages say? “I can’t repeat it,” Dave Ahern, a frequent message writer, says with a laugh. But it’s one way to relieve job frustrations. He has often found his old messages.

Ahern comes from a family of union carpet layers, he states, stressing “union.” Has the trade changed much since his father’s time? “The craft is pretty similar except they expect a lot more yardage from you today. And the products aren’t as good as they used to be. The glues, for example. They take out the stuff that’s bad for you, which is good, but the product doesn’t always work as well.”
One innovation Ahern admires is a new seaming iron that uses microwaves to fuse a special tape to the underside of the carpet. “It doesn’t put out any heat or smoke, and you run it along the top of the carpet. The older irons get pretty hot and smoky. You would have to shut off the smoke alarms. And with the new iron, you don’t burn yourself.”

At the end of the day, the carpet layers take in the beauty of the new floors. Carpet layer Jesus Rivera, who used to be a printer, appreciates the intricacies of the interwoven color patterns. Wayne Wallace enjoys the grand view of the new floors. Others, like Omar Montoya, get satisfaction walking all over their work.
Members of Carpet, Linoleum and Soft Tile Workers Local 12 install everything from carpet to hardwood floors. They represent 1,389 members 18 to 97 years old, from northern California and northern Nevada. We visited them on the job site in San Francisco.

DaveAhrens1 DSC_2141 JesusRivera-carapet-layers_Sep212007_5011 JesusRivera-looking-at-design2 AnthonyPutman3
Dave Ahern, carpet layer 20 years Dave Ahern, carpet layer 20 years Jesus Rivera, apprentice, 2.5 years Jesus Rivera, apprentice, 2.5 years Anthony Putman, Carpet Layer 20 years
OmarMontaya2 OmarMontaya1 DSC_2149 DSC_2207 AlTatum1
Omar Montaya, carpet layer 13 years Omar Montoya, 13 years Omar Montaya, carpet layer 13 years Omar Montaya, carpet layer 13 years Al Tatum, 10 years
WayneWallage2 MartinRenteria1      
Wayne Wallace, 10 years Martín Renteria, carpet layer 20 years
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