Local 1 electricians upset with Dooley over 911 emergency call center

Union electricians with IBEW Local 1 are picketing at the construction site of the 911 Emergency Call Center in St. Louis County to protest a nonunion electrical contractor doing work on the multi-million dollar project. Union voters helped the county pass a $100 million bond issue in 2009 to pay for the $16 million call center. Ken Landwehr (right), a business representative with Local 1, is encouraging union members to call County Executive Charlie Dooley to let him know how they feel about a nonunion contractor getting the $4 million job. Dooley’s phone number is 314-615-7016. His email is cdooley@stlouisco.com At left is Matt Hopfinger, one of several laid off Local 1 electricians who have been manning pickets at the site. – Labor Tribune photo

St. Louis County—A 911 emergency call center rising on the site of a former county park has union electricians hopping mad and the head of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades council calling foul on County Executive Charlie Dooley and county officials responsible for awarding the contracts on the project.

IBEW Local 1 is picketing the site because St. Louis Electric, a nonunion contractor, is doing the electrical work on the job.

Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, said, “When the county wanted help on the bond issue for this project, they came to labor for support and we gave it to them. We got our members involved in supporting that bond issue and voting to get it passed. We were told the jobs would be union jobs. This is outrageous to have nonunion workers on the job.”

Aboussie said it was  another  reminder that  when proponents of bond issues and other projects come to organized labor for support, “We have to get a firm commitment that the work will be done with union labor before we engage our members to support these causes.”

Aboussie emphasized that Local 1’s picket is a legitimate picket. “No way should anyone think it is not a legal picket. We need to respect a picket.  A picket means something,” he said.

The call center is being built with funds from a $100 million bond issue passed in 2009. It authorized a one-tenth of 1 percent  increase in the county sales tax. It is being  built on the site of the former Howard Ohlendorf  County Park near Big Bend Boulevard and Hanna Road.

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