By ED FINKELSTEIN
St. Louis construction unions are stepping up once again to help new and upgrading homebuyers get into their dream home with the offer of $2,000 to $10,000 in cash incentives.
Seven construction unions and four area home builders are participating in the St. Louis Homebuilding Partnership’s unique, nationally recognized Neighborhoods Built By Your Neighbors program, pooling $1,056,000 to fund the incentives for homebuyers to use at closing to add upgrades, reduce the home loan interest rate or cover closing costs. The specific incentive amount is based on the home’s final cost.
Participating homebuilders include Fischer & Frichtel, McBride & Son Homes, McKelvey Homes and Payne Family Homes. The builders have committed an additional $100,000 to market the program over and above their normal marketing dollars.
The unique program, now in its eighth year, runs through March and features:
• Cash incentives ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 that can be used at closing for upgrades such as a finished basement, a brick front, different flooring, etc., or to reduce the interest rate or cover closing costs.
• 100 percent union-built homes, no exceptions.
• Availability in only the Missouri communities of the four participating homebuilders.
• First come, first served until the funds are exhausted.
• A commitment by participating homebuilders that they will ensure all work on all their homes is 100 percent union for a full year. In the past a participating builder, on rare occasion, had used a non-union subcontractor after the incentive program had ended.
Participating unions include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, SMART Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, Cement Masons Local 527, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council, Painters District Council 58 and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.
“The program is the deal of a lifetime, a ‘win-win’ for construction workers and consumers alike, designed to put union tradesmen back to work, give consumers a great deal on a new home they’ve been thinking about purchasing and dramatically stimulating the St. Louis economy,” said David Zimmermann, business manager of Sheet Metal Workers (SMART) Local 36.
“It’s part of our union’s ongoing efforts to create work for our members and at the same time support our great employers and provide a solid deal for consumers,” said Gregg Smith, Painters District Council 58 business manager. “We’re pleased to be a part of this unified union effort.”
Added Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1: “First and foremost, union-built homes are quality built homes, so the homebuyers are getting a solid product for what is one of the largest life-time purchases. That’s important to the consumers we serve.
“Second, it’s great for our members because the data shows that based on an average incentive of $5,000, estimates are that we’ll build 220 additional homes which will provide 329,000 manhours of work for all our trades. That’s the equivalent of 175 full-time union jobs for a full year.”
Since the program’s inception seven years ago, it’s estimated that it has created 3.1 million man-hours of work for union workers. Add this year’s potential, and that brings the total man-hours to 3.6 million.
The dollar contribution from each union is based on the number of hours each trade has in building the home. The actual dollars will come from either from the local’s treasury, their local or national market recovery programs, or from their industry market recovery programs.
TESTAMENT TO RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOMEBUILDERS, UNIONS
“This program is a testament to the relationship between St. Louis’ leading home builders and its union partners,” said John F. Eilermann Jr., chairman and CEO, McBride & Son Companies.
“And most importantly,” Eilermann added, “It shows that working together is the best way to stimulate our local economy and get experienced, talented trades men and women back to work doing what they do best, building quality homes, fulfilling our program’s theme, ‘Working Together to Keep St. Louis Working.’”
CASH IN ADDITION TO BUILDERS’ BEST DEAL
“It’s real cash for use at closing and it’s in addition to St. Louis Union Homebuilding Partnership builders’ best deal,” stated Jim Brennan, president, McKelvey Homes. “It’s really an amazing deal for buyers.”
“Our local unions are truly putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to keeping people working,” said Ken Kruse, president, Payne Family Homes. “They have committed $1 million for use at closing to home buyers. That really says a lot.”
Added John Fischer, Fischer & Frichtel Homes: “This program is about neighbors coming together to make a difference. That fact is when union trades people are working they are buying other goods and services and the economy grows.”
For more information on the Neighborhoods Built By Your Neighbors stimulus program, visit stlunionhomebuilders.com.
Memo to Jefferson City lawmakers who can’t see the forest for the trees
Unions re-invest in community, stimulate local economies
As Missouri legislators consider 155 bills to strangle and kill unions – including a number of bills targeting the building trades – they completely overlook programs like Neighborhoods Built By Your Neighbors where unions are re-investing in communities throughout the state to build local economies.
Last year, a Labor Tribune survey showed St. Louis area unions donated over $2,027,438 in free work and volunteer services to 482 charities, churches, civic groups, schools and non-profits. In the past five years of our survey, responding unions donated $9.3 million in free services and dollars.
“The efforts of legislators in Jefferson City to castrate our unions is hurting their own constituents, many of whom are the beneficiaries of the volunteer services our unions provide, but they don’t care,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades Council.
And why don’t they care? “Because their business funders, out-of-state interests and dark money groups are pouring millions into their re-election campaigns to keep them compliant,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council.
“Day in and day out a union is helping someone, some group in their communities, but some legislators can’t see the forest for the trees,” Stiffler added.
“Cripple our unions and you’ll cripple ALL the working families of Missouri and our state’s economy,” White added.