150 Missouri workers to lose millions in payroll; only out-state bidders allowed for $30 million Capitol renovation
By ED FINKELSTEIN
In a bizarre twist, two of the Missouri masonry contractors not allowed to bid on a $30 million masonry rehab at the state Capitol actually created the budget for the project!
Both firms, Staat Tuckpointing and Heitkamp Masonry, which have done extensive work at the Capitol, were asked by the State Department of Administration’s project consultant Bill Ahal to create the budget for the renovation project they were then deemed unqualified to bid on!
“There’s no logical explanation, none,” Heitkamp Vice President Dan Grass told the Labor Tribune. Heitkamp and Staat were joint venturing the project and between them have 88 years of masonry experience including renovations at the Capitol, Chase Park Plaza, Art Museum, Arcade Building, several buildings at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Busch Stadium and Ameristar Hotel to name just a few.
MISSOURI WORKERS LOSE
As a result of the state Department of Administration’s decision to exclude three Missouri contractors — the third was Superior Restoration with 38 years of experience –– some 100 to 150 Missouri workers will lose three years of employment because only out-of-state contractors are being allowed to bid. The one expected to win is a Detroit company with a Kansas City post office box address. They plan on bringing in their own workforce.
MISSOURI TAXPAYERS TO LOSE
“The way this is being done will cost the taxpayers of Missouri a lot more than the $30 million projected budget,” said Bricklayers Local 1 President Brian Jennewien.
He pointed out that the local companies already have staff in mid-Missouri but the out-of-state contractors will have to pay per diem and travel costs to bring in several hundred workers, and that’s going to be costly over three years.
“All three local contractors are extremely well qualified, have excellent track records of bringing projects in on time and on budget, and employ local workers. There’s something terribly fishy about their being excluded from the process.”
In addition, Grass said, only 25 percent of the building was actually inspected by the architects to determine the work that would be needed. That was the basis for the overall project’s estimated cost then multiplied by four.
“Who knows what they’ll find when the work begins, and then with out-of-state workers, and all that extra time and expense from expected change orders, Missouri taxpayers are going to foot the bill, and it won’t even be going to Missouri workers,” Grass added.
OK TO SUB, BUT NOT BE THE GENERAL
Brian Hodge, project manager at Staat Tuckpointing, stressed that this work is exactly “our kind of work” that both Staat and Heitkamp have incredible experience doing.
He also revealed that the joint venture was told they could not appeal the state’s decision but, to add insult to injury, they could work on the job as subcontractors to the out-of-state contractor selected.
“That is absurd,” Hodge said.
He added that at the pre-bid conference, they were all but ignored; the state refused to answer their questions, and they had plenty.
Missouri official stonewalls
The state of Missouri has refused to provide three local masonry contractors with the reasons for their not being allowed to bid on the $30 million Capitol masonry renovation project, State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), president of the Missouri State Building Trades Council, told the Labor Tribune after a recent meeting with state officials.
Her efforts to introduce reason into the state bidding process, or at least get a full explanation of why qualified Missouri contractors were being shutout, fell on the deaf ears of Cathy Brown, director of Facilities Management, Design and Construction for the state’s Office of Administration.
“It’s bizarre, not fair and yet another example of this administration allowing Missouri money go to out-of-state contractors instead of Missouri workers who are highly qualified to do the work,” Walsh said.
When I asked for specific reasons the local contractors were not allowed to bid, all she would say is that “they didn’t qualify,” Walsh added. “No other explanation.”