By SHERI GASSAWAY
Mo. Rep. Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold), who voted three times for right-to-work legislation in this year’s session, has shown just how anti-union he is during a recent verbal confrontation with union members at a picket in Valley Park.
Members from Laborers’ Local 110 and Bricklayers Local 1 are picketing at Bobcat of St. Louis, 401 West Outer Road near Interstate 44 and Highway 141, for using Hunter Masonry of Cuba – a non-union company – to build an addition to the company’s building.
On Dec. 10, Vescovo showed up at the site and tried to intimidate union members by making derogatory comments toward organized labor, said John Hopkin, Local 1 president and field representative.
“He walked up with an attitude in the very beginning,” Hopkin said. “He started harassing the Laborers at one gate and didn’t get anywhere with them, so he went to the other gate and tried to intimidate our Bricklayers observer.”
Jeff Beare, a member of Laborers’ Local 110, was at the picket that day. He told the Labor Tribune that around 10 a.m., Vescovo pulled up in his Lincoln Navigator, rolled down his window and said, “Bullshit.”
“I thought he was just some guy pulling up asking for directions at first,” Beare said. “But as soon as that first word came out of his mouth, the conversation was over as far as I was concerned.”
Beare said Vescovo continued to taunt the picketers by saying, “Do you know what the union is doing with your pension? Are you getting paid to be out here picketing? Unions are no good – wouldn’t you rather be working?”
Vescovo’s district covers portions of Arnold, Barnhart and High Ridge. It is unclear how the state representative learned of the Valley Park picket or why he was there.
“Bobcat’s Valley Park location is not a place where you just happen to drive by,” Hopkin said. “It’s on an outer road.”
Vescovo was elected to his two-term seat in 2014. According to his state legislative biography, he is self-employed in business development and studied public relations at Southeast Missouri State University.
Vescovo, who stands with out-of-state corporations and anti-labor groups like the Koch brothers, has already pre-filed a bill for the 2016 session targeting union involvement in public construction projects. The bill (HB 1444) would prohibit “the state or any of its agencies from issuing or awarding certain incentives or entering into cooperative agreements for specified projects which require that the bid specifications, project agreements, or other controlling documents encourage or discriminate against involvement with labor organizations.”
Robert “Bob” Butler, a labor-friendly Democrat who opposes right-to-work, is running to unseat Vescovo in the 112th State Missouri House District. Butler is a workers compensation attorney and founded the Jeff Co Dems Club to help rebuild and strengthen the Democratic Party in Jefferson County following the 2014 elections.