Building Trades, Carpenters, Laborers say contractors will not bid Jefferson Arms project unless area standards are met

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Letter to St. Louis Mayor Krewson demands a meeting with developer

REDEVELOPMENT OF THE JEFFERSON ARMS building in downtown St. Louis could be a jewel in the City’s revitalization efforts were it not for the developer’s opposition to trained, local union workers. – NEXTSTL photo

Member unions of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council and Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council are calling on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand Alterra Worldwide CEO Mukemmel “Mike” Sarimsakci meet with local union leaders and agree to hire local workers for the proposed $104 million redevelopment of the historic Jefferson Arms building.

The Jefferson Arms is one of downtown St. Louis’ biggest buildings, and it’s redevelopment has the potential to be a jewel in the City’s rebirth and revitalization, setting the standard for downtown development for decades to come, but only if it is done correctly.

“The City needs to make sure this project supports those who have supported the City for the last 100 years,” the leaders of the Labor councils wrote in the letter to Krewson.

St. Louis officials have invested over $17 million in tax-increment financing to help with the development and additional $2.6 million generated from special sales tax districts on site.

But Alterra and Sarimsakci, the project's principal, have belittled the City’s investment, making clear in meeting after meeting that he:

• Does not intend to hire local workers – instead hiring an out-of-state demolition workforce.

• Does not intend to maintain area standards for wages and safety.

• Has no interest in complying with St. Louis minority and apprenticeship inclusion standards.

‘TIRED OF BARGAINING WITH OURSELVES’

“In an effort to make the Jefferson Arms Project one the City can be proud of, we have attempted to meet with the principal and help rectify his shortcomings in diversity, training, safety and financing. We were rebuffed throughout,” the union leaders wrote. “We are tired of bargaining with ourselves.

“Instead of honest conversation and sincere discussions in using this projects potential to help the City as a whole, the principal insists on obfuscation and misrepresentation to our organizations, the contractor community and the public.”

CONTRACTORS CONCERNED

“Our contractors tell us they are concerned about biding this project because of the principal’s changing and opaque practices and demands,” the letter states.

“Our contractors have further concern because, despite the City’s investment, the principal will not reveal how the project is additionally financed.

“The principal is asking our contractors for large outlays of time, effort and expense while hiding both what qualifies as a successful bidder and how any successful bidder, and its employees, will be paid.

“The contractor community has lost confidence in this project and this principal, and the principal has shown no good faith or good will in either the project, the City or its residents.”

DEMAND A MEETING

Having made their case, the councils and affiliate union leaders are asking Krewson to demand a meeting between Labor leadership, the City and Alterra/ Sarimsakci to:

• Reveal the project’s financing.

• Solidify the steps to secure a trustworthy developer and general contractor.

• Maintain the commitment to local, diverse and trained workforce and apprenticeship standards to ensure the project is built safely and efficiently and will provide area standard wages to local workers who reflect the City’s diversity.

STANDING TOGETHER

“We want the City to know we are standing together to protect area standard local work and trained local workers, and we are resolute in this stand,” the union leaders wrote. “A credible plan is paramount for the project to continue.”

The letter was signed by John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Council; and approved by Boilermakers Local 27 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Eugene Gill, Bricklayers ADC Director Brian Jennewein, Cement Masons Local 527 Business Manager Kurt Dierkes, Electrical Workers Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs, Elevator Constructors Local 3 Business Manager John Orr, Glaziers Local 513 Business Representative Curt Kimbrell, Insulators Local 1 Business Manager Jerry Donovan, Iron Workers Local 396 Business Manager Tom McNeil, Operating Engineers Local 513 President Tim Sappington, Painters District Council 58 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Gregg Smith, Plasterers Local 3 Business Manager John Davis, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 Business Representative Mark Morgan, Roofers Local 2 President/Business Manager Daniel O’Donnell, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 President/Business Manager Ray Reasons, Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 Business Manager Mike Mahler, Teamsters Local 682 President/Business Manager Ed Kimbrell, Tile & Marble Setters Local 18 President Mike Weber, Carpenters Executive Secretary Treasurer Al Bond and Laborers- District Council Business Manager Brandon Flinn.

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