Union families can make a difference in Aug. 5 primary battle
A politician keeping his word was the emphasis of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council and IBEW Local 1’s fund raising barbecue May 28 for County Councilman Steve Stenger, who is challenging incumbent Charlie Dooley for St. Louis County Executive in the Aug. 5 primary.
Describing Stenger as a “breath of fresh air” in county government, veteran St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said Stenger would bring fairness to county government in contrast to the current county executive who “dumps on people…. (even) his friends” and the working union people who have given him so much support over the years.
“This is an incredibly important election,” McCulloch said, and union families need to turn out.
LABOR SAVED DOOLEY’S RE-ELECTION
Saying that Dooley had abandoned his friends in the labor movement, Building Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie reminded the overflow crowd at Local 1’s meeting hall how three weeks before the last election Dooley’s campaign called him and several other labor leaders pleading for help because Dooley was behind in the polls.
“We went to work,” Aboussie said.
“The North and South County Labor Clubs rallied more than 250 volunteers to knock on doors, work phone banks and on Election Day put Dooley’s re-election over the top. You made a difference,” Aboussie said.
THEN HE TURNED HIS BACK
Shortly thereafter, Aboussie said, “We saw the relationship deteriorate” and major country projects began going non-union.
“Once he won, he felt he didn’t have to deal with our needs anymore” even though many members were without work.
Since then, the county has let more work non-union, Aboussie said, and taxpayers are suffering because some of that work has to be redone.
“Electing Steve Stenger will set us on a new path,” Aboussie said. “He has a proven record of being a friend of working people, a friend of Labor. He won’t do it by words alone, but by his actions.”
Stenger received a standing ovation when he said, “I will absolutely never forget who my friends are.”
He complimented the unions for their quality work, which saves taxpayers money because the projects are done right the first time, with quality that lasts.
He also complimented McCulloch, County Councilmen Pat Dolan (President of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268) and Mike O’Mara (UA International Representative and member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562) for the courage they have show in supporting his candidacy.
“It takes real courage for them to step out front,” Stenger said.
RAISED IN A UNION FAMILY
Stenger grew up in a union family. His father was a CWA lineman for Southwestern Bell for 42 years.
As a child, Stenger said he grew up understanding the importance of the union in helping his family put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
“I went door-to-door with him in 1978 handing out flyers against right-to-work. I understand your issues,” he said, adding, “You as union members are the engine of our economy.”
Stenger pledged to be the opposite of Dooley who, he said, “works against your best interests.”
Stenger noted how Dooley attempted to appoint Republican right-to-work advocate and 2012 gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence to the county’s Police Board. (Spence later withdrew his name from consideration citing problems with a county ordinance requiring nominees to submit to background and credit checks.)
Stenger received another standing ovation when he said: “I will support projects being built union because they offer the taxpayers the best return on their investment.”
About 80,000 people are expected to vote in the Democratic primary.
Stenger asked union members to get their families, friends and working buddies to turn out to vote.
“If you do that, I’ll win…and you’ll have a strong friend in the county executive’s office that doesn’t take his friends for granted,” Stenger said.