‘Outrageous;’ ‘disgraceful;’ ‘bizarre;’ ‘illegal’
By ED FINKELSTEIN
At least 100 Missouri workers will lose three years of work because the State of Missouri will not allow three qualified St. Louis firms to bid on a $30 million Capitol renovation project.
That’s the estimate of contractor Dan Staat of Staat Tuckpointing, a union contractor who last year successfully completed work on another project at the Capitol, speaking to KMOV reporter Matt Sczesny who broke the story on Nov. 6 on Channel 4.
Two other highly experienced union firms are also being shut out of the bidding: Heitkamp Masonry in Ellisville and Superior Waterproofing and Restoration in St. Louis.
LOST MISSOURI JOBS
Meanwhile, the state has approved three out-of-state contractors to bid (two from Chicago and one from Michigan that has a Kansas City post office box) with no explanation.
Staat says the state still hasn’t given him a detailed reason as to why his company was rejected. All he knows is that his 100 Missouri workers won’t have a shot at working on the State Capitol project. “Not a lot of it makes sense at all.”
“This is outrageous,” said St. Louis Building Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler.
“Gov. Greitens is always talking about creating good Missouri jobs and here his own Department of Administration is only allowing out-of-state contractors to bid! How ironic is that?”
Stiffler said that something “sounds fishy” about this. “How can Greitens in all good conscious allow this to happen? His administration is talking out of both sides of their mouths.”
“Governor Grietens and his administration continue to turn their backs on Missouri workers,” said Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.
“Governor Grietens campaigned on bringing jobs to Missouri. Now he has disqualified Missouri companies from doing work on the people’s State Capital in favor of out-of-state companies and workers. It is disgraceful that he and his cronies continue to turn their backs on Missouri workers.”
‘BIZARRE, ILLEGAL, EVEN CRIMINAL’
State Representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), a retired Teamster, called the action “bizarre, illegal and even criminal.
“When you intentionally shut out contractors who have successfully worked for the state before, that’s bid rigging,” Burns said. “It’s illegal, and it’s wrong.”
He accused the governor of playing politics with the lives and paychecks of Missouri workers. “That ought to be an impeachable offense.”
Burns notes that while the governor is saying he had nothing to do with the decision, that it’s his Office of Administration’s decision, the department is headed by a Greitens’ appointee, Sarah Steelman. (Editor’s note: As a legislator, Steelman was a rabid anti-union conservative.)
“Greitens signed the phony ‘right-to-work’ law with the excuse that we need it to bring jobs to Missouri workers. Now he’s doing just the opposite,” Burns said.
MEETING LAST WEEK
State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), president of the Missouri State Building Trades Council and a retired Insulators Local 1 member, said she planned to meet with the Office of Administration on Nov. 15 to try to get some answers.
“When there are capable contractors in Missouri that can do the work they need done, the state should NOT be looking outside Missouri,” she stressed.
In a response at press time to the Labor Tribune’s inquiry, Ryan Burns, the Office of Administration’s director of communications, said that of the seven bidders, only four were pre-qualified and only one is a Missouri firm, but did not name that firm.
However, in what we’ve perceived as a confusing contradiction, she added:
“The pre-qualification of any non-Missouri firm to bid as the General Contractor and Stonemason does not preclude any eventual successful bidder from employing Missouri workers.”
The Labor Tribune has asked for a clarification as to how a firm allegedly NOT qualified enough to meet the bid specs can then be hired as a subcontractor for the same job?
Details to follow when we get a response.