ST. LOUIS — The PRIDE (Productivity, Responsibility, Increased Development and Employment) Labor-Management honored some of their members at an annual luncheon ceremony today at the headquarters and training facility of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 in St. Louis.
PRIDE was formed with the purpose of bringing together labor unions, management and owners in the construction field to improve overall relations, and to increase productivity and work quality
Jim LaMantina, Executive Director for PRIDE, said the organization had “defended and upheld” its mission since its inception in 1972, and as a result St. Louis has some of the best-trained union sheet metal workers and construction workers in the country.
“In St. Louis, when you have to build, you build union, and everyone here knows that,” LaMantina said. “That’s not true for many other places in the country. When I go to Boston and talk to people there who say only about 50 percent of the building is union, I’m grateful for PRIDE and what it has done.”
The luncheon honored Hugh McVey, President of the Missouri AFL-CIO, Butch Welsch, owner and founder of Welsch Heating and Cooling, Steve Sobo, director of design and construction at Washington University School of Medicine, and the Boeing Corporation.
McVey received the Dick LaMantina Labor Award. Dick LaMantina was a co-founder of PRIDE and the award is meant to honor individuals who “strive to stand up for labor and improve their communities through good practices,” according to Jim LaMantina.
McVey spoke at length at the event and at several times had to pause for laughter as the crowd responded to an anecdote about a fly stuck in a car during a long road trip. McVey also used his speech to recognize several elected officials in the crowd including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Minority Leader Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, and Sen. Gina Walsh, D-North St. Louis County.
“Things are tough, tough, tough, for labor right now,” McVey said. “And the people in this room, our elected officials in Jefferson City who came here today to stand alongside labor and management, they need your help too. We need to stand up to right to work and paycheck protection and prevailing wage and any other nonsense that’s going to hurt our communities and our organizations and our families.”
Hummel echoed McVey’s sentiment. A longtime member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Hummel said he was elected to Jefferson City for the very reasons McVey and his counterparts discussed: protecting labor.
“This is why I was sent to do this job,” Hummel said. “This is what we talk about when we talk about this in the Capitol, that labor and management cooperation will lead us to better innovation, more jobs, and better communities. They keep us on the forefront of construction and development and I’m going to continue to defend the organizations that help better this city and this state.”
McVey is a well-known face around the Capitol. Republicans like Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence, said that while he didn’t always agree with McVey, he was one of the most straightforward voices in the building.
“You always know where you stand with Hugh,” Torpey said. “Which is something I greatly appreciate, whether it’s good or bad or indifferent.”