By ED FINKELSTEIN
Helen Fitzgerald’s pledges to use union contractors, taken off list
A conscientious political candidate who believes in the benefits of being union refused a totally free fundraising effort for her campaign at a We Do Not Patronize restaurant and as a result was able to encourage ownership to come back into the union fold.
Erica Hoffman, a 2020 Democratic candidate for state representative in Missouri’s 96th District, was offered a totally free fund-raising party at Helen Fitzgerald’s Irish Grill and Pub, a popular restaurant and watering hole at 3650 S. Lindbergh. But, as a faithful Labor Tribune reader, she knew the restaurant was on the St. Louis Building Trades Council’s “We Do Not Patronize” list and graciously refused the offer.
Hoffman made a previous bid for the 96th in 2018 and received Labor’s endorsement.
When she explained to management of Helen Fitzgerald’s, part of the Syberg’s Family Restaurants, why she couldn’t hold her fundraiser there, they expressed surprise at learning they were on the “Do Not Patronize” list and agreed to sign a letter of intent with the Building Trades pledging to only use union labor in the future. As a result, the Council has taken Helen Fitzgerald’s off the Do Not Patronize list.
The Syberg’s Family Restaurants include nine establishments – seven Syberg’s locations in St. Louis, Arnold, Chesterfield, Maryland Heights, St. Peters and O’Fallon, Ill., the Twisted Tree in Sunset Hills and Helen Fitzgerald’s, also in Sunset Hills.
Although popular restaurants, the family has a spotty history of hiring non-union contractors for remodeling work at various locations. The Syberg’s restaurant at 7802 Gravois remains on the Do Not Patronize list.
‘A STAND OF PRINCIPLE’
“We appreciate Erica’s efforts to support our unions and our working guys and gals,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the Building & Construction Trades Council. “We’ve tried to deal with the Syberg family before with little luck. It took a stand of principle by Erica to raise the issue here and get it resolved.”
Hoffman lost her race last November to “right-to-work” backing Republican incumbent David Gregory, but has been asked to run again. She will have a campaign kickoff fundraiser at Helen Fitzgerald’s at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
A mom, former history teacher in the Lindbergh School District, member of the National Education Association, and committed community volunteer, Hoffman was recently appointed to the St. Louis County Council’s Advisory Board for the Parks and Recreation.
In addition to her own union membership, her father-in-law was a union member. She understands, and appreciates, the value of unions.
Erica Hoffman campaign kickoff fundraiser Dec. 4
Help show your appreciation for Democratic state rep. candidate Erica Hoffman’s stand for union building trades members by attending her campaign kickoff fundraising event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Helen Fitzgerald’s Irish Grill and Pub, 3650 S. Lindbergh.
This is Hoffman’s second attempt to unseat Republican “right-to-work” backing incumbent David Gregory in the 96th House district in south St. Louis County.