Labor leader Dick Mantia, co-chair of PRIDE, former head of St. Louis Building & Construction Trades, has died

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DICK MANTIA
DICK MANTIA

(UPDATED WITH FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS)

One of St. Louis’s most respected and effective labor leaders, Dick Mantia died Wednesday, June 4, 2014. He was 82

Visitation will be Sunday, June 8 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Schrader Funeral Home, 14960 Manchester Rd. at Holloway in Ballwin, MO.

A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, June 9, at The Cathedral Basilica, 4431 Lindell Boulevard in St. Louis.

Visitation at the Cathedral will be held 9 a.m. to 10 prior to the funeral mass

There will be no cemetery service.

Mantia is survived by his wife, Toni, of St. Louis; a son, Rocky Mantia, and daughter, Michelle Scarfino, both of Wildwood; a sister, Joyce Manning of south St. Louis County; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Please share your memories, sympathies and thoughts on Mantia’s passing in the comments section at the bottom of this story, or by emailing tim@labortribune.com.

A LONG AND STORIED CAREER

Mantia had a 53-year career serving the members of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1 as an executive board member, business representative and business manager, served as secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council for 20 years, and served as international representative and organizer of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators. He retired five years ago.

PRIDE OF ST. LOUIS

Mantia may best be remembered for what he did to bring the area’s building trades unions and contractors to the same table.

In 1972, just as he was taking over as full-time chief executive of the Building Trades Council, Mantia was tapped to become the next labor co-chairman of PRIDE, St. Louis’ fledgling construction industry labor-management group committed to making St. Louis the best union construction town in America.

PRIDE stands for Productivity and Responsibility Increase Development and Employment. It was the first group of its kind and propelled Mantia onto the national labor scene.

Working with his management co-partner, the late Al Fleischer, chairman of Fleischer-Seeger Construction Co., Mantia worked tirelessly to resolve local construction issues through open communications.

NATIONAL RECOGNITION

Mantia’s and Fleischer’s successes became legendary: strikes were avoided, hundreds of unproductive work rules were eliminated, cost overruns disappeared and jurisdictional disputes all but evaporated. For the first time, architects, engineers, suppliers and owners working with the building trades and the union construction firms and local organizations through PRIDE were able to reach a level of cooperation never before heard of in St. Louis – once known for being a “tough” labor town that major companies avoided.

The concept was so novel that in 1973 U.S. News and World Report featured PRIDE in a special article, extensively quoting Mantia about the changes being made in St. Louis construction. In 1981, Fortune Magazine did a seven-page spread on PRIDE’s accomplishments.

Before PRIDE, there was 35 percent unemployment in the construction trades. Once PRIDE was launched and took hold, union construction boomed and Building Trades unemployment dropped to about six percent. St. Louis turned from being one of the most expensive construction towns in America to one, if not the, most productive.

In 1982, the U.S. Labor Department recognized PRIDE as the finest example of labor-management cooperation in America and cited Mantia’s and Fleischer’s leadership as one of the prime reasons. Forbes Magazine did a major feature article on the organization and its leaders.

Mantia served as labor co-chair of PRIDE for 20 years, until 1992 when he was named the international representative and organizer of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1.

In 2007, Mantia returned to PRIDE as board member emeritus, offering his leadership and expertise in the areas of productivity, safety and diversity.

WIDELY RECOGNIZED

Numerous entities named Mantia “Man of the Year” over the years in recognition of his personal and professional achievements, including City of Hope (1974), the Engineering News Record (1976), the St. Louis Construction News & Review (1977), the St. Louis Port Council (1981), the U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1985) and the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council (1998).

Today, PRIDE gives an annual labor award in Mantia’s name.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES

Share your memories, sympathies and thoughts on Mantia’s passing in the comments section at the bottom of this story, or by emailing tim@labortribune.com.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Dick was one of the nicest guys I ever met in the labor movement. He was the perfect union man as the former general president of the painters union he helped me many times over the years I worked with him in the 80’s in Philly and he helped me out in Iowa god bless him

  2. So sorry for this loss , Dick was so good for the Laborers.Condolences to his Family ,and Heaven has truely Gained another Angel!We are a “Laborer Family” and appreciate his Good Work we will also Miss your company at Sports Cafe your seat can never be filled. The Courtois Family Laborers Local 110.

  3. One of the best union men ever born in this country. Great Local #1 Pipecover, Business Manager, and Leader. Will be sadly missed by many brothers and sisters in the labor movement. And if anyone in heaven has any lost golf balls…….. Better get ready because “eagle eye Dickie” is on the way.

  4. We were privileged to know Dick for the last few years. Sending our love to dear Toni and his wonderful family, our hearts are with you.

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