By SHERI GASSAWAY
If you’ve driven by Dave Sinclair Buick/GMC in South County lately, you’ve probably noticed that IBEW Local 1 is bannering the dealership for using an electrical contractor that pays below area wages and benefits negotiated by Local 1.
When people see union banners, there is a general understanding that there is a Labor dispute and that the business is using a non-union contractor that pays below area standard wages and benefits negotiated by the union.
That perception was muddied last week when another sign went up at the dealership right next to Local 1’s banner – “Thank You for Using 100% Union Labor.” The two men manning the second sign were Carpenters union members representing Local 57.
Sinclair is using Reinhold Electric, which employs members from Local 57, a non-AFL-CIO affiliated electrical workers “union” that has grown notorious for undercutting union labor and contractors and trying to sow confusion among business owners and the public.
Local 57’s affiliation with the Carpenters union gives it an air of legitimacy, but Local 57 is essentially a company union. Its “members” aren’t allowed to vote on contracts or vote for their leaders. Wages, working conditions and leaders are forced onto the members.
“People are confused,” said IBEW Local 1 Business Representative Chuck DeMoulin. “We’ve been fielding calls about it all week. They are using the public’s general lack of knowledge about the situation to deceive people.”
Local 1 Business Representative John Kahrhoff agreed, and said: “Our boycotts are wholly based on the area standard wages and benefits established by the IBEW for electrical workers in our region. It has nothing to do with union versus non-union, and it’s a violation of law to base our public information campaign on union affiliation.”
Local 57 was formed in 2008 to compete with IBEW Local 1, causing a major rift within the building trades. It is the only known effort of its kind in the nation where an “electrical union” –or any other so-called union – is housed within a Carpenters union or any other union.
Electricians working for Local 57 receive wages and benefits far below the area standards negotiated by Local 1, and journeymen are divided into two wage tiers. The total compensation package for a Local 1 journeyman is $70.47 an hour. Local 57 journeymen receive $9.61 to $15.43 less per hour.
“Not only do the members of Local 57 earn less than the hard-won standards established by Local 1, but they also earn less than the prevailing wage established for publicly funded projects in St. Louis County, which is published by the Missouri Wage and Hour Division,” said Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs.
ST. LOUIS CARPENTERS SHAKEUP
In September, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) suddenly dissolved the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters District Council and fired the union’s top leaders. UBC merged the council’s 34 locals into the Chicago Carpenters Regional Council.
At the time, UBC General President Doug McCarron told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that an internal report prepared by UBC’s representatives precipitated the sudden action, but details were not released.
DO NOT PATRONIZE
The Sinclair dealership is located at 5655 S. Lindbergh Blvd. and is run by one of the sons of founder Dave Sinclair, who was an ardent union supporter.
IBEW Local 1 is asking the public to NOT patronize the company and to call the dealership at 314-272-4060 and demand they use an electrical contractor that pays area wages and benefits negotiated by Local 1.