By CARL GREEN
Collinsville – Fairmount Park Race Track has traditionally been a reliable source of union work, but lately that’s changed, and it resulted in union painters setting up an informational picket at the track.
Members of Painters District Council 58 carried signs and handed out leaflets at the two main entrances from Illinois 203 to the track at noon, June 9, just before the track began its daily racing.
Track officials insisted that the Painters stay off track property, and Collinsville Police were called to the scene. The Painters agreed to stay just across the line, alongside the street, and police officers were satisfied with that.
The flier handed out by the Painters said a non-union contractor from Kansas had been hired to repaint the main building, a job of two or three weeks.
RAT WITH AROLLER
Decorated with a cartoon rat holding a paint roller, the flier stated:
“CA Painting LLC, an out-of-state contractor, is lowering our local wage and work standards. Help maintain the area wage and work standards as established through our community by refusing to patronize Fairmount Park Racetrack for hiring CA Painting LLC. Please do your part in supporting our community wages and work standards.”
Allen Marley, business rep for the Painters, said he had tried to talk to the CA painters but found that they could not speak English, and their designated translator could not, either. “They don’t even know what I’m talking about,” he said.
It was the second informational picket at the racetrack this spring. On March 31, members of Roofers Local 2 set up an informational picket line because Fairmount had hired Allstate Roofing, another non-union contractor from Kansas, for some repairs.
That day, other unions chose to honor the picket line, including members of Laborers Local 44, Teamsters Local 525 and IBEW Local 309. That forced the track to close for the day and cancel a slate of eight races. The track finally had the roofers work at night to prevent further picketing.
The Painters on Tuesday said they weren’t trying to close the track but just wanted to get the word out about Fairmount’s latest non-union hiring.
DEAL IN WORKS
Fairmount in recent years has been battling competition from casinos, and it could soon be under new ownership in a deal in which the Casino Queen would acquire the track if the state allows the track to add slot machines.
The track is now owned by Bill Stiritz, former CEO of Ralston-Purina, while Casino Queen is owned by a group of its employees, called CQ Holdings. The current track managers would be retained in the deal.