Determined pickets win return of Dierbergs work

JOE KNOTT (left) and Jim Renick, both business agents for Cement Masons Local 527, stand picket in front of a massive new Dierbergs store being built on Ronald Reagan Drive in Lake St. Louis. – Labor Tribune photo

Lake St. Louis – Union Cement Masons and Laborers in this St. Charles County municipality were dismayed recently to find non-union Rainieri Construction employees working on the parking lot of a new Dierbergs supermarket being built.

Dierbergs is known for using union contractors on its projects and has used union labor on other parts of the Lake St. Louis job.

So on Monday, Sept. 13, Cement Masons Local 527 Business Agents Jim Renick and Joe Knott stood out in the sun for hours at the far north end of the construction site on Ronald Reagan Drive near Interstate 70 and Interstate 64.

“Normally, Dierbergs is good, and everything else on this site has been good, except for these guys, so we had to do something,” Renick said at the time. “The Laborers (Local 660) were out here last week and this morning until nine.”

It was a mystery. They weren’t hearing anything from Dierbergs, so on Wednesday, two days later, the unions moved their picket site up the hill and right next to the building – instead of the far end of the future parking lot. They and the Laborers and some Teamsters members kept the pickets up all week. Other trades noticed the picket line and honored it, Renick said.

Things changed. Dierbergs officials took note and stepped in, opening talks with a union contractor, Concrete Strategies, to take over the work, and by Sept. 17, Renick said it looked like union members would get the work after all, plus some roadways on the Dierbergs property.

“It will be a nice win for us,” he said. “Once in a while we actually win one.”

The union members had been told Raineri was working directly for the city, but that seemed odd, and some Raineri workers told the Masons they were indeed working for Dierbergs.

“The city isn’t going to pay to put all this in for Dierbergs,” Renick said at the time. “They’re going to make them put it in, and then they maintain it.”

Dierbergs broke ground on the 71,000-foot store in December 2020, next to Lowe’s in the Shoppes of Hawk Ridge development. It is expected to open with 150 employees later this year.

Knott said their original small picket line way out on Ronald Reagan Drive received a big reception from supporters passing by.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Lots and lots of people.”



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