Imo’s Pizza, the greed beyond compare

Managing Editor

PAINTERS DISTRICT COUNCIL 58 business agents (from left) Otto Schoenberg (Local 115) and Wendell Harris (Local 2341) recently handbilled outside the Imo’s Pizza location at 9417 Gravois Rd. in Affton to let customers know the venerated pizza chain is using low cost, low-wage non-union labor to paint its franchise locations. – Labor Tribune photo

Imo’s Pizza is a St. Louis institution with its original St. Louis-style square-cut pizza advertised as “The square beyond compare!”

But Painters District Council 58 Business Agent Otto Schoenberg (Local 115) says Imo’s convoluted use of union painters on large corporate projects – like its new headquarters location on N. 17th Street in downtown St. Louis – but routine use of non-union painters for its restaurant franchise locations should earn the venerated pizza chain the moniker “The greed beyond compare!” among members of the St. Louis building trades and other unions.

District Council 58 recently added the Imo’s restaurant locations at 9417 Gravois Road in Affton, 721 Lemay Ferry Road in Lemay and the Imo’s Distribution Warehouse at 5851 Elizabeth Ave., to the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council’s “We Do Not Patronize” list for using non-union painting contractors at those locations.

Schoenberg said the Imo’s location at Jefferson Avenue and Cherokee Street recently used a non-union painting contractor at that location as well.

“We appreciate Imo’s letting us work on the big jobs because the contractors they hire for the restaurants can’t handle them, but we don’t get to work on any of their restaurant locations,” Schoenberg said. “They don’t even get bids from our contractors.”

Schoenberg and Local 2341 Business Agent Wendell Harris recently distributed handbills at the Affton and Lemay Imo’s locations to let customers know what the company is doing and urge them to call the company’s corporate office.

One of the handbills bore the headline: “IMO’S… THE GREED BEYOND COMPARE!!!”

Another had pictures of the Imo’s logo, a rat and a slice of pizza and carried the message:

A RAT is a company that exploits its workers, and RATS ARE RUNNING RAMPANT AT IMO’S!

Imo’s wants us to pay TOP DOLLAR for their pizza, but chooses to use a contractor that does not pay the established area wages & benefits when building their new locations.

The handbill urged customers to call Imo’s and “ask them to stop destroying our community standards for THEIR OWN GREED AND BOTTOM LINE!!”

In discussions with Imo’s President Carl Imo, Schoenberg said Imo placed the blame on the franchisees for hiring non-union painting contractors – much like McDonald’s and other fast-food chains hide behind their franchisees to explain away low wages and employment decisions at its restaurants.

“You’re from St. Louis, you’re a St. Louis institution but you don’t want to use union labor,” Schoenberg said of Imo’s. “You sell the best product but you don’t want to use the best product. You go with the cheapest.

“We want to work with Imo’s and paint their franchises. We appreciate the big job downtown that they’re working with us on, but we want to be included on the franchises. Should we eat at Imo’s while we’re working downtown but not anywhere else?” Schoenberg asked. “Because that’s what we’re talking about.”

The phone number to call Imo’s and tell them to stop using non-union painters is 314-822-0443.


One Comment

  • Imo’s corporate tried to bully the original food supplier to turn over recipes. Imo Meat co. refused (due to a one sided contract) and are struggling to survive. Corporate tried to imitate the sausage, roast beef, meatball, Salsiccia etc. Long time customers know something has changed but corporate has said nothing.
    Anyone who misses the old time flavors should visit “Charlie Imo’s Market & Deli”on the Hill. Authentic, Origional!


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