Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Union Pickets Another

The Telegraph
WOOD RIVER - Members of an electrical workers' union picketed Wednesday and passed out leaflets protesting what they call a "raid" on their territory by a big St. Louis area carpenters' union.

"It's union-busting," said Jack Tueth, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 649. "They're wrapping a union flag around it."

He said the Carpenters' District Council based in St. Louis has formed a competing electrical workers' union, Local 57, which threatens to take work away from his members.

The dispute has been simmering on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River for some months, but now a general contractor working on the Godfrey Wal-Mart has hired members of Local 57.

The leaflets being passed out questioned whether the carpenters will stop at forming an electrical workers' union or try to make "raids" on other crafts unions.

Tueth said Terry Nelson, the president of the Carpenters' District Council in St. Louis, has been persuading contractors to hire members of Local 57 at 20 percent less than they would pay under the IBEW contract.

Those contracts often get the low bid on a project, resulting in less work for IBEW members, Tueth said.

That applies to Chicago-based Ledcor Construction Co., which is the general contractor for the Wal-Mart store under construction in Godfrey, Tueth said.

"There is nobody local working on that Wal-Mart job," Tueth said.

He said members of his union have taken the day off work to picket and show their concern about the actions of the St. Louis area carpenters' union. He said the public information effort is part of a nationwide effort to get the public's attention on the issue.

Pickets also were scheduled in St. Louis.

The IBEW members picketed Wednesday morning outside Carpenters' Local 377 in Wood River, but they said they don't have a problem with that local.

"They're just pawns," said Jason Brayton, one of the IBEW picketers.

The leaflets called on all St. Louis building trades members to let the leaders of the Carpenters' District Council, as well as national carpenters' union leaders, know their opinion.

The national president is Doug McCarron.

"Tell Doug McCarron and Terry Nelson: You do your work, we'll do ours," the leaflets read.
"This is way beyond a jurisdictional dispute. It's about stealing work, hurting all tradesmen and women and boosting McCarron's and Nelson's egos," the leaflets continue.

IBEW members are calling Local 57 a "company union." They accuse its leaders of making "sweetheart deals" with contractors, which benefit themselves at the expense of fellow construction workers.

Neither Nelson nor McCarron returned telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday, but Nelson has been quoted in several other publications as saying he is trying to attract development to the St. Louis area and expand opportunities for his members.

He has accused other union members, as well as his own members, of working too little and asking too much, thereby frightening businesses away from the area.

Tueth said Local 57 members "will take anybody." He said their apprenticeship program has encountered problems with the U.S. Department of Labor.

His union, on the other hand, operates a training program that produces highly skilled workers. It takes 4,000 hours of work as an apprentice to become a journeyman electrician, he said.

"It usually takes four long years," Tueth said.


  1. Sounds Like The Carpenters In St. Louis Are Being Competative. I Hope They Capture The Entire Market.

  2. As a business owner we tried to join local one and they where a bunch of crap. They where not even nice too us at all. Local #57 is a good thing for st.louis. I hope local one and their attitudes go under water. #57 is taking on contractors that have been doing electrical work for many years as well as safety and quality. If you want to work #57 is the way to go.


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