Dooley crosses picket line undeterred
By TIM ROWDEN
As though any more proof were needed that Charlie Dooley has turned his back on labor, the incumbent St. Louis County executive drove straight past an picket line at the topping out ceremony for the Lemay Community and Aquatic Center July 10 without so much as slowing down to find out what the picket was about.
Dooley is facing a challenge from COPE endorsed 6th District County Councilman Steve Stenger in the Democratic primary election Aug. 5.
IBEW Local 1 picketed the July 9 ceremony to draw attention to the fact that general contractor Wright Construction Services Inc. subcontracting Reinhold Electric, a Local 57 contractor, for the electrical work on the project.
Local 57 is a non-AFL-CIO electricians union within the Carpenters’ District Council.
The $12 million Community and Aquatic Center is located in Jefferson Barracks Park, at 305 Greg Rd.
The project is being developed by the St. Louis County Port Authority, in conjunction with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and the St. Louis County Parks Department.
IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs said Reinhold is paying prevailing wage on the project – as required by law on public works construction projects in Missouri, such as bridges, roads, and government buildings – but pays below area standard wages and benefits on its other jobs.
“Reinhold does not pay the area standard wages and benefits package,” Jacobs said. “Even though this is a prevailing wage project, this contractor does not pay the prevailing wage on all their projects.”
FLIMSY ARGUMENT FOLLOWED BY CALL TO POLICE
Wright tried to run Local 1 off by claiming that they were picketing at the wrong gate.
When pressed for where the correct gate might be, Wright Project Manager Nathan Bibb said the whole park – all of Jefferson Barracks Park – was part of the company’s construction site.
Jacobs replied that Local 1 would need a map of the construction site with all of the gates marked sent to his office.
Bibb emailed a file that couldn’t be opened, but not before calling in park rangers, who called the St. Louis County Police, who explained that Local 1 was well within its legal rights.
Bibb and his bosses did not take kindly to Local 1 casting a shadow over the topping out ceremony, particularly when invited guests, such as state representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), and delivery drivers hauling concrete and materials refused to cross the picket line.
“I didn’t know this was up,” said Burns, a retired member of Teamsters Local 600, after getting out of his car to talk and shake hands with Local 1 members. “I’m not crossing.”
That was the same response from Joe Coco, a member of Teamsters Local 682 and driver for Atlas Supply Co., who said Wright could either send someone down to the gate to unload his truck, or he would bring it back the next day.
“If that’s what I have to do, that’s what I have to do,” Coco said. “I’m not crossing.”
A driver for Riley Ready Mix and Materials had the same response and turned around at the gate.
That’s when Bibb marched back down to the gate and complained to Jacobs “You’re costing us money!”
Bibb added that hiring Reinhold was “a little thing.”
To which Jacobs replied: “Little? Really? I’ve got 800 men out of work that would love to come down and work on this project.”
Bibb had no reply for that, and instead, opened another gate to bring his guests in.