By TIM ROWDEN
In a year rife with partisan fights, the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council pitched a bipartisan tent for its Leadership Award Banquet Feb. 21, honoring Senators Gary Romine (R-Farmington) and Scott Sifton (D-Affton) with the Leadership Award for their support of working family issues and QuikTrip Corporation with the Construction Consumer Award for its commitment to building each of its 700 stores using union labor.
Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary/treasurer of the Building Trades, said the Council felt it important to recognize “the political leadership who are vital to a growing community” and “the companies who buy our product.”
A bipartisan Who’s Who of Missouri state representatives and senators joined union members and leadership for the annual awards dinner at the Cedars at St. Raymond’s.
While the dinner celebrated bipartisanship and partnership, Aboussie noted that the Missouri House of Representatives showed neither quality last month when members passed and sent to the Senate the misnamed right-to-work bill.
Fortunately, 23 Republicans joined 40 Democrats and one Independent voting against the deceptive anti-worker measure.
“Too often in the past we have been critical of Republicans in a generic sense for being anti-worker,” Aboussie said. “This bill proved once and for all that’s not the case. When the right-to-work bill passed the House, it did not have the 109 votes needed to override an anticipated veto by the Governor, should it come out of the Senate. We are hopeful that there will be enough Senators of both parties willing to stand with Missouri’s working families so that their votes will have the same effect.”
SEN. GARY ROMINE
Widely considered a conservative member of the Missouri Legislature, Sen. Romine is also known as a friend of working people who has demonstrated time and again his courage to do what he thinks is right.
He played a key role in last year’s contentious veto session that sustained Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of SB-29, the “Paycheck Deception” bill, and has fought consistently for job-creating economic development, transportation and infrastructure legislation, and support of the lead mining industry – a major job-creator in Missouri.
Romine’s father, Leroy, is a 54-year member of Operating Engineers Local 513, and Sen. Romine said his father’s hard work and commitment allowed him to become the first generation of his family to earn a college degree.
“I owe a lot of that to my Dad and my family,” Sen. Romine said. “I’ve never forgotten the brotherhood of the trades and what they allowed me and my family to enjoy.
“I always remember the brotherhood of labor and what they give to our community.”
A former high school teacher, Sen. Romine is also the founder, president and CEO of Show-Me-Rent-To-Own.
SEN. SCOTT SIFTON
Sen. Sifton is a rising star in the Missouri Democratic Party and could well become the state’s next attorney general.
After only one term in the State House, Sen. Sifton defeated 1st District incumbent Sen. Jim Lembke in 2012 and recently declared his intent to run for attorney general in 2016.
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said Sen. Sifton has been “a huge help” and a reliable ally, using filibusters to fight legislation harmful to workers and providing a strong voice for bills that support working people.
A longtime friend of working families, Sen. Sifton has worked to protect prevailing wage in both the House and Senate and supported numerous working family initiatives.
“I have never been a union member,” Sen. Sifton said. “But I have seen what a difference unions have made in my life and so many.”
Sen. Sifton said Missouri needs an attorney general who will be an advocate for working families to defend and enforce the prevailing wage and represent working families’ issues.
“From the first day they came to St. Louis to open their first store, QuikTrip Corporation made it clear they would only hire union contractors to build their stores to their exacting standards,” said Building Trades President Mike Mahler (Sprinkler Fitters Local 1 business manager). “Every one of QuikTrip’s 75 St. Louis stores is union-built.”
QuikTrip is a unique corporation, particularly in this day and age.
- Their stores are built without demanding tax support from local communities.
- When they open a new store, they give priority to hiring local people from that community.
Because QuikTrip is an employee-owned company, everyone from the president to the servers in the stores earn a share of the profit of their store. As a result, QuikTrip has the lowest turnover rate of any convenience store chain.
“One of our goals is to help out employs grow with the company,” said QuikTrip’s Director of Real Estate Troy Devos, who accepted the award.
“It is the same thing Jeff (Aboussie) and Mike (Mahler) do with the members of the Building Trades.”
Faces in the crowd
Below are some of the union members, contractors and political leaders who turned out to celebrate Missouri's working families and the businesses and political leaders who support them, at the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council's Leadership Award Banquet Feb. 21, 2015.