A tug-of-war between union and non-union factions is evident at the intersection of Marietta and Marshall avenues in Maplewood this week.
The City of Maplewood hired Raineri Construction to rebuild Marietta Avenue. The Raineri employees are non-union, and the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ Council, Local 110 doesn’t like it, so union laborer Doug Hindle is picketing the site.
Hindle, 50, said he's been out of work since last August and the union pays him $75 a day to picket. He’s collecting unemployment from IL, but it’s about to run out.
“I’ve got to get back to work somehow,” he said.
“These guys are just happy to be working. I feel for them,” he said. “It’s hot, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Gary Elliott, president of the Local 110, said union workers have pension, health and welfare, and they’re paid the prevailing wage.
“All that gets bypassed by a non-signatory contractor,” he said. “Each hour one of our guys works, money gets paid into the training fund by the contractor. Nobody knows how to do that kind of work without some kind of training.”
He said the union levels the playing field, and it comes down to who can do the work the best.
Kevin Miller, director of concrete construction for Raineri, said the work is a government job, and the pay is set by the state.
“Everyone has to get the amount predetermined by law for this job, whether you’re union or non-union,” he said.
He said it's not like it was 40 years ago.
“The old age of sweat factories is gone,” he said.
Miller said it was different when he returned from Desert Storm as a Marine and started working as an operator.
“I was a non-union guy, and had two different union BAs (union business agents) throw me off the job, but that was the very end of the days when the BAs were guys with scars on their fists.”
Miller said his workers are “happy as a Lark.” He said what the union would have received doesn’t come out of their checks. “They make more money on a prevailing wage job than if they were union.”
Maplewood Director of Public Works Director Anthony Traxler isn't concerned about whether a company hired by the city is union or not.
“Raineri submitted the low bid for street reconstruction and their bid met our specifications,” he said.
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