Problem with company, not local owners
By TIM ROWDEN
Fourteen months ago, when Chick-Fil-A built a new restaurant on Hampton Avenue in South St. Louis, Bricklayers Local 1/Tile Setters Local 18 bannered the project for using out-of-state bricklayers and tile setters who paid below the area standard wages and benefits negotiated by Local 1/Local 18.
Chick-Fil-A’s management noticed and in discussions with Local 1/Local 18 pledged to give union contractors consideration on future projects. That promise lasted about as long as it takes to order lunch at the drive-thru.
Construction of new Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Bridgeton and Florissant –– both of which recently opened –– and St. Peters –– which is still under construction –– have all used non-union workers.
“They said they would give the union an opportunity,” said Mike Fox, president and field representative for Local 1. “It wasn’t much of an opportunity though.”
DO NOT PATRONIZE
The Bricklayers and Tile Setters have been bannering and handing out flyers at Chick-Fil-A’s newly opened Bridgeton and Florissant locations, which have been added to the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council’s “We Do Not Patronize” list, along with the locations in Chesterfield, Ellisville and St. Louis.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 has also placed the Chesterfield, Ellisville and Florissant locations on the “Do Not Patronize” list for using non-union electricians.
Bricklayers 1 Organizer Mike O’Neill was bannering last week at the Bridgeton location with Local 1 Journeyman Bruce Holmes and Local 18 Journeyman Mike Wells.
O’Neill said Chick-Fil-A has not responded to the banner in Bridgeton, which is accompanied by a large inflatable rat, or the banner in Florissant, which is accompanied by a large inflatable “greedy pig” in a business suit.
“We haven’t gotten one call from them, and we have been out here since their grand opening two weekends ago,” O’Neill said. “They just don’t care.”
PROBLEM WITH COMPANY NOT LOCAL OWNERS
To be clear, Local1/Local 18 are not bannering in opposition to local franchise owners but to educate the public about Chick-Fil-A corporate management’s decision to hire low-wage, out-of-state contractors to build its restaurants, which depend on the support of the communities where they are located.
At the Florissant location, where owner Tasha Fox is the first African American female owner in the Chick-fil-A restaurant system, Local 18 journeyman Shawn McGough and apprentice Yusef Douglas manned a banner and handed out fliers last week but were quick to note that the problem is not with Fox but with Chick-Fil-A corporate management.
“When anyone comes up, we tell them, it’s not about her; it’s about the company. We just want the public to know what’s going on.”
“We live in this community,” Douglas added. “It affects us, too.”