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.