This article examines the opposing sides taken by elderly tenants and labor unions over a major urban renewal project in 1970s San Francisco. Tenant activists sought to block the construction of the Yerba Buena Center and the resulting relocation of thousands of elderly residents of residential hotels. City labor unions lined up in support of the project, even though some of the displaced residents were former industrial workers and union members. By examining the path taken by both sides in the redevelopment struggle, this article grapples with their competing visions of working-class identity and interests. Ultimately, it argues that the position taken by labor leaders narrowed the labor movement’s vision of its constituents and its mission. This narrowed vision led them to view impoverished retired union workers as their opponents rather than as comrades in a shared struggle for working-class dignity and self-determination.

You do not currently have access to this content.