Welcome and Pilebutts: Working Under the Hammer (2003)

It gives me great pleasure to present our premiere title this week, Pilebutts: Working Under the Hammer as the work of the Piledrivers, Divers, Bridge, Wharf and Dock Builders, Local 34, based in Oakland, California, plays a critical role in the lives of San Francisco Bay Area residents. Pilebutts was produced in 2003 on DigiBeta by the Piledrivers Local 34 and directed by independent documentary filmmaker Maria Brooks, and prominent folklorist, historian and activist Archie Green:

"Pile drivers, or Pilebutts as they are better known, perform foundation work on large-scale construction projects such as piers, wharves, dry docks, breakwaters, underwater pipelines, bridges, highways, skyscrapers, and parking lots. Pilebutts are inheritors of an ancient craft. Working on land and underwater, they perform one of the most dangerous jobs in heavy construction.

Whether constructing, maintaining, or demolishing structures, Pilebutts' work is strenuous and dangerous. It is performed on a variety of maritime and shore-side locations: barges, work floats, tugboats, wharves, piers, pontoons, and foundation excavations, often during the early stages of construction when the sites can be unprepared, uneven, and ungraded.

Pilebutts load/unload their broad-gauge lumber construction forms and piling up to eighty or more feet in length. They manhandle, rig, erect, and drive wooden, steel, and cement pile. They construct, move, set, and scale all forms and shapes used in the laying of cast-in-place structures as well as construct, climb, and demolish wooden and metal falsework. They shore and brace any excavations undertaken in connection with their work, and during demolition they perform all deconstruction with cutting torches, jackhammers, and power saws, as well as rigging and loading work associated with the removal of debris."

Included below is a trailer for the documentary, to watch it in its entirety, follow this link (please note: you will need RealPlayer).

More on Archie Green's involvement with the Pilebutts is available here.