With hundreds of members, their children and grandchildren cheering, VIPs galore, face painting and balloon sculpting for the kids, plenty of food and attendance prizes, Laborers Local 42 christened its new offices in a gala Open House on June 20.
Even the weather cooperated as the sun came out after a week of rain to allow for the traditional ribbon-cutting in front of the newly remodeled office at 301 S. Ewing Ave., the former home of Sheet Metal Workers (SMART) Local 36.
“We are beginning a new chapter in our storied history,” said Local 42 Business Manager Brandon Flinn in welcoming everyone to the spacious meeting hall in the building’s lower level. He thanked everyone who made the new facilities possible, with special praise for Local 36 and Business Manager David Zimmermann who worked with the union “to ensure this incredible building stayed in union hands.”
President Rich McLaughlin served as Master of Ceremonies
FOR MEMBERS, FAMILIES
“Everything we do is for our members and their families,” said Midwest Region Manager and LIUNA Vice President John Penn, who brought congratulations from Laborers International Union (LIUNA) President Terry O’Sullivan.
Penn praised the retirees and veterans in the audience for “handing off to your local leaders a great union,” pointing out the hardships they went through in the early years of building the union.
“Wages at $1.50 an hour, strikes over nickel-and-dime raises, being the victim of Mother Nature which often meant months without work – those were their hardships that created our unions today,” he said, urging everyone to “be proud of the union card you carry in your wallet.”
Pointing out that the Local 42 has 98 percent market share in this community, more than all the jurisdictions in Illinois combined except Chicago, he congratulated Flinn and the union’s officers for their diligence in ensuring their work jurisdiction was protected, no matter how small the job. He noted that the union will have some 500 apprentices this year; an indication of how good work is and will be for the foreseeable future.
“You have good leadership, a good local, a bright future,” Penn said proudly.
VIPs ON HAND
On hand to congratulate the union were St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed.
“Local 42 is a true example of what unions are, and mean to our region,” Stenger said, noting that while the local is active in every aspect of the community, members should be especially proud of the incredible charitable work they do for organizations everywhere.
Reed noted that unions set a standard for non-union employers as well. “Point out to your neighbors and friends that when they get a good paycheck, a vacation, holidays and sick days, it’s because of the unions,” he said.
A unique feature in the new facilities is an incredible series of eight mounted displays that depict Local 42’s history by decades from its beginnings in January, 1933. Each of the displays depicts highlights of the decade in photos, Labor Tribune articles and collected memorabilia from the union’s files and from donations of others. Each display is mounted behind Plexiglas presenting a solid overview of the decade.
In 2010, Police & Public Employees Local 1032 merged to form Local 42’s Law Enforcement Division and earlier this year Local 53 merged with Local 42.
Included in the day’s festivities were face-painting, a balloon artist making balloon creations for a lot of happy children and a grand buffet luncheon that had plenty of great food for everyone.