Effort to discredit unions over 12-year-old incident dragged out to impede petition drive

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TELLING THE SAME OLD STORY, St. Louis Paving CEO Paul Munsch appeared on FOX News in 2013 complaining about a union organizing drive as though it had just happened, when in fact it was in 2005 and the unions involved were exercising their free speech rights to advertise to the public that his company was non-union. His opinion piece in the June 27 Post-Dispatch failed to mention that it happened 12 years ago. – FOX News screen capture

By ED FINKELSTEIN

Publisher

A virulent anti-union opinion piece that appeared June 27 on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Opinion Page, designed to impeach unions, is in fact the work of a man who has become an on-call mouthpiece for the anti-union movement.

Paul Munsch, CEO of St. Louis Paving Co., has been dragged out repeatedly over the past 12 years to tell his slanted side of an incident that happened in 2005.

In his opinion piece, Munsch makes it appear as though the incident happened this past April.

In addition, a quote Munsch uses that appears to have a UAW international officer supporting RTW has been discredited many times over.

MOUTHPIECE OVER AND OVER

A quick Google search shows that Munsch, a board member of the non-union ABC construction group, has told this exact same story about the building trades multiple times: in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013 on Fox News, America’s Radio News, a right wing website, the St. Louis Business Journal and last week in the Post-Dispatch, each time carefully omitting the fact that it happened over a decade ago and nothing like it has happened since.

TIMING NO ACCIDENT

“The timing of this article is not an accident,” said St. Louis Building Trades Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler. “With the Citizens’ Referendum petition drive under way across the state to allow a public vote on the recently enacted phony ‘right-to-work’ law, the right wing wants to do everything it can to trick voters into not signing the petition. They won’t be successful.

“Rest assured, we’ll see more efforts like this, including the recent spate of TV ads and postcards being mailed into homes spouting lie after lie in an effort to support the phony ‘right-to-work,’ which they are afraid to let go to a vote of the public.”

PROPAGANDA

“There’s no question that Munsch is a mouthpiece for someone,” said St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White. “I’ve seen that same statement verbatim over at least the past dozen years. Whenever the right wants to drag out an anti-union guy, they drag him out, over and over again. He’s been on TV, radio, in print. I’m surprised the Post-Dispatch didn’t realize that he’s nothing more than a propaganda prop before they published him and his misinformation continuation.”

WHAT HAPPENED?

Munsch’s story revolves around the efforts of the Operating Engineers and the Laborers to organize him. When he refused to talk with them, they began an information campaign to inform the public that he was non-union, a free speech right protected by the Constitution. The campaign included picketing and the use of the inflatable scab rat often seen at the site of picketing.

Munsch continues to be non-union to this day, and obviously is being encouraged, if not directed, by someone or some group to get him out front with his story to try to discredit unions.

In the 2007 article in the St. Louis Business Journal, Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council Business Manager Gary Elliott pointed out they had been trying to meet with Munsch for two years, as part of their effort to organize small paving contractors. Munsch refused to even meet. The union then exercised its free speech rights to publicize St. Louis Paving’s status.

UAW ACCUSATION DISCREDITED

In the same opinion piece, Munsch used what appears to be a quote from United Auto Workers National Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel in which he allegedly supports RTW. The alleged quote comes from a July 2014 Washington Post story that referred to an earlier February meeting where the remark was supposed to have been made; however, there was no source for the alleged statement, something quite unusual for the Washington Post.

“The item was taken out of context many years ago by anti-labor advocates and has been used repeatedly, although it is not a true characterization of what was said,” said Brian Rothenberg, senior communications advisor for the UAW. “The UAW has clarified that this has been misconstrued many times over the years.

“Be certain that the UAW International Union position is not changed and opposes RTW very actively around the country and in your state,” he added.

In fact, in several publications, Casteel has pointed out that despite RTW laws in the south, “… our UAW local unions are not going to let anti-labor laws block our forward momentum…In places where these policies exist, we are dealing with them – and we are succeeding, despite the laws.” That is a factual quote.

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