By MARY ANN O'TOOLE HOLLEY
Reuben Gill, an apprentice member of Bricklayers Local 1 of Missouri who served as Missouri’s voice in nominating Vice President Joe Biden for president during the Democratic National Convention, said he didn’t realize the scope of the simple political endorsement video he was asked to make.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize it was such a big thing at the time,” Gill said. “I didn’t realize I was speaking on behalf of the entire state, shown at the virtual Democratic Convention. Then, the next day my phone was blowing up with calls telling me what a great job I did.”
Gill, who works for John J. Smith Masonry, doesn’t count himself among politicos that follow a candidate’s every move. He makes a practice of never discussing religion or politics on the job. But he says he does his own research, and his comments made during the rollcall vote were genuine.
“I love walking around this city and seeing the contributions that my brothers and sisters have made. I love my job and appreciate that I’m helping rebuild the city,” Gill said in the video. “We stand ready to build our nation’s infrastructure and with Joe Biden’s leadership we’ll create millions of new jobs –
building Back Better. Missouri casts 28 votes for Bernie Sanders and 50 votes for our next president, Joe Biden.”
Gill said it was left up to him to decide what to say, with the approval of the Democratic National Committee.
“I was able to choose my own words, so that’s why I spoke of my pride with the Bricklayers Union. I’m proud to be a union bricklayer apprentice,” Gill said. “I just spoke from the heart.”
CHOSEN FOR HIS WORK ETHIC
Bricklayers & Allied Craftsworkers District Council of Eastern Missouri Director Brian Jennewein said as an officer on the District Council he was asked to make the video, but he believed the video would be better served if one of the young bricklayers did it. He said Gill was chosen for his “unbelievable work ethic and dedication to the union.”
Reuben was organized from a non-union contractor by Bricklayers Business Representative Mark Savage, and came into the Local 1 apprenticeship program as a Pointer Caulker Cleaner (PCC tuckpointer). He completed that apprenticeship, then he decided he wanted to be a bricklayer, despite taking a pay cut and having to complete a second apprentice program, Jennewein said.
Gill and his wife have a newborn son, Troy Gill, born on Aug. 23.
“Reuben has a wife and family and that says a lot about a person willing to drop back in pay so he can learn more about our trade,” Jennewein said.
“That showed an unbelievable work ethic that represents us very well. That’s the kind of guy we’re looking at with Reuben. The young people always get such flack for their work ethic, but Rueben is quite the opposite..”
Jennewein explained to Gill that the video would likely be seen around the world, representing not only the Bricklayers’ union but the state of Missouri. Union officials and Gill then spent about five hours on a Sunday recording the statement.
““Reuben did an awesome job,” Jennewein said. “He’s excelling as a bricklayer. We’re very proud of him.”