On a beautiful fall day with gentle breezes, three major “firsts” highlighted the gala Labor Family Picnic and Tug-O-War held in Forest Park Sept. 28:
• Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 made history – for a second time – by winning both 1st and 2nd places in the Tug contest. Lining up to compete with one another in the first place tug-down, they instead threw down the rope (as they did in 2010 when they won both 1st and 2nd places) and declared everyone the first place winner.
• Steamfitters Local 439 became the first Illinois local to win, placing 4th in this year’s Tug contest. They are the only the second Illinois local to participate although the contest is open to locals on both sides of the river. Illinois Bricklayers Local 8 fielded a team in 2007.
• $5 for the Fight Fund received $13,500 from the event’s charity proceeds, money that will go to help out-of-work union families meet critical financial needs.
Third Place winner was perennial winner, Laborers Local 42, 1st Place winners in 2008 and 2009.
Winner of a $5,000 cash drawing was Bob Fitzgerald, a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562. Mike Nelson, also a Local 562 member, won a beautiful stereo radio donated by BMO Harris Bank; five other names were first drawn, but they had already left.
A hefty 18,589 pounds of pure muscle showed up in the 13 teams that participated: (team’s total weight in parentheses; limited to 1,500 lbs.) Illinois Steamfitter 439 (1,418 lbs.), Iron Workers 396 (1,456), Glaziers 513 (1,478), Graphic Arts/Teamsters 6-505 (1,312), IBEW 1439 (1,427), Sheet Metal Workers 36 (1,485), Gas Workers 11-6 (1,436), Plumbers and Pipefitters 562 (1,473), Elevator Constructors 3 (1,339), and IBEW 1 (1,500). Sprinkler Fitters 268 Team A (1,401) and Team B (1,364); Laborers 42 (1,500).
This year’s donation to $5 for the Fight brings total charitable contributions from the five labor tug-o-war and picnics to $58,500: Shriners Children’s Hospital (two years) $41,000, Rebuilding St. Louis - $1,000 and a previous donation to $5 for the Fight - $3,000.
HONORING TWO SPECIAL MEN
A special ceremony ushered in a new tradition for the Labor Picnic and Tug: the travelling crystal trophy has been dedicated to two stalwart trade unionists who died far too young: IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Greg Booth and Operating Engineers Local 513 veteran Business Representative Dee Spraberry.
Rob Dussold, treasurer of the Tri-County Labor Club (IBEW Local 1 business representative), paid tribute to Booth saying that, “Greg’s devotion to organized labor knew no boundaries… a man who led by example.” Booth was a charter member of the Labor Club and it’s building is named after him.
Rockwood Labor Club President Marty McClimens (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562), who also served as master-of-ceremonies for the day, paid tribute to Spraberry noting “Dee was always there when you needed him, for the union, for his friends. He was a true man of compassion, a true trade unionist.”
Previous Tug-O-War winners were:
2007 – Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562B team weighing in at 1,497 pounds.
2008 – Laborers Local 42’s team weighing in at 1,499 pounds.
2009 – Laborers Local 42 with their team weighing in at 1,490 pounds.
2010 – Sprinkler Fitters 268A weighing in at 1,394 pounds and Sprinkler Fitters 268B team weighing in at 1,486 pounds. In a dramatic turn of events the number 1 and 2 teams did not pull against one another but, as they did this year in repeating this unique feat, they joined hands in solidarity and declared their union the winner!
SOMETHING FOR ALL
The beautiful day saw something for everyone:
• Sponsors booths with lots of free giveaways. A special thanks was offered to picnic sponsors BMO Harris Bank, Trans Canada, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kraftig & Wm. K. Bush Brewing Co. and the American Petroleum Institute.
• Lots of hot dogs and hamburgers (served up by UFCW 655 with food donated by Holton Meats), beer and soft drinks.
• The wonderful singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Brittany Howell, daughter of Plumbers and Pipefitters 562’s Bob Howell.
• All the electrical connections were provided compliments of IBEW Local 1.
• Lively music provided all day by four member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 who have a van full of portable equipment, Scott McKnight, Tim McKnight, Barclay Schindler and Matt Diesner.
• Games of all kinds for the kids including a tug-o-war, a wheelbarrow race and an egg toss for kids over and under eight.
Kid contest winners were:
• Wheelbarrow races: Under eight: 1st – Lola Zurweller, 5 and Scarlett Zurweller, 3; 2nd place – Chase Martin, 7 and Cayden Duncan, 6. Over eight: 1st place - Brendon Davis, 12 and Jake Czerniewski, 16; 2nd place – Tim Summers, 12 and Brian Gray, 12.
• Egg toss: Under eight: 1st - Lola and Scarlett Zurweller; 2nd – Charlie Bailey, 2 and Karlee Bailey, 8. Over eight: 1st - Brendon Davis and Jake Czerniewski.
Winners won either $25 cash or two tickets to an upcoming Rams game.
Sponsors of the event were the Tri-County Labor Club and the Rockwood Labor Club. Compliments to everyone who helped make this an incredible successful event.
‘We’ll have your back:’ Attorney General Chris Koster
“No matter how tough the fight gets, we’ll always have your back.”
That statement brought a roar of approval from the crowd at the Labor Family Picnic last Saturday when Attorney General Chris Koster took a few minutes to welcome everyone and express his appreciation for the quality work union members bring to Missouri’s economy.
Telling the story of a bridge being built between Missouri and Nebraska, Koster noted that Missouri workers on that bridge job earned an average of $31.56 an hour while their counterparts from Nebraska (a right-to-work for less state) earned an average of $8.31.
Yet they all have the same aspirations: earning a living to support their families, sending kids to college, living a solid middle class life. “And yet, in Missouri we value the work a man does with his hands but in Nebraska, they don’t value that work in the same way.
“We are fighting every day to protect the working values and middle class lifestyle we have in Missouri and protecting those values by protecting prevailing wages and fighting against right-to-work (for less). You put everything on the line to make this a better state; we’ll do the same for you,” Koster said to rousing applause.
St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie introduced Koster as a man, who as a legislator and now as attorney general “has fought the cheats, frauds and phonies to protect Missourians everywhere.