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A Deeper Look at ‘Shame on Lindbergh Schools’

Rick+Dinnella+%28left%29+and+Chris+Thomson+%28right%29+stand+outside+LHS+in+protest+of+Lindbergh+School+District%E2%80%99s+decision+not+to+hire+IBEW+Local+No.+1+electrical+contractors.+Union+members+aimed+to+get+the+attention+of+both+the+district+and+the+public.
Rick Dinnella (left) and Chris Thomson (right) stand outside LHS in protest of Lindbergh School District’s decision not to hire IBEW Local No. 1 electrical contractors. Union members aimed to get the attention of both the district and the public.

Rick Dinnella (left) and Chris Thomson (right) stand outside LHS in protest of Lindbergh School District’s decision not to hire IBEW Local No. 1 electrical contractors. Union members aimed to get the attention of both the district and the public.

Heidi Budd

Heidi Budd

Rick Dinnella (left) and Chris Thomson (right) stand outside LHS in protest of Lindbergh School District’s decision not to hire IBEW Local No. 1 electrical contractors. Union members aimed to get the attention of both the district and the public.

Heidi Budd, Pilot Editor-in-Chief

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Over the past two months, members of a local electrical workers’ union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 1, have been protesting the Lindbergh School District’s decision to hire non-union electrical contractors. They argue that Lindbergh is paying wages “below area standards.” IBEW members can be found protesting both outside the construction site of the district’s new Administration Building and, most recently, outside of Lindbergh High School.

The IBEW says they began by trying to open a dialogue with Lindbergh administrators but were declined an audience Dr. Simpson, so they took to the streets, posing on the construction sight and LHS lot with their now-familiar ‘Shame on Lindbergh Schools’ sign.

“We felt like we had to do something to get their attention,” Dave Roth (IBEW member) said.

The initial unrest started when the IBEW Local 1 was outbid for the job as Lindbergh’s electrical contractors for the new Administration Building currently under construction on Sappington Rd. The IBEW felt that they deserved more of a right to job access within the Lindbergh community.

“The IBEW was founded in St. Louis in 1891. We represent over 1 million workers, and we are very serious about our work and our livelihoods. We give a lot back to this community and we feel it’s important that we are given access to jobs in Lindbergh. We would like a chance to do the school district’s work,” Roth said.

Dawn Marglous, a taxpayer and member of the Sperreng Flyer family, believes that Lindbergh needs to show a greater commitment to unions.

“I really think it’s wrong that we aren’t using union workers. Many Lindbergh faculty are union workers so why would we not want to use union workers?” Marglous said.

However, the issue is bigger than just a debate over the use of union versus non-union. Beth Johnston (Director of Communications) says that the issue is bigger than just the debate over union or non-union. As a public school district and government entity, Lindbergh’s Board of Education is required by law to take the lowest reasonable bid for work.

“Lindbergh District schools and offices are government entities, and therefore, the School Board has an obligation to take the lowest reasonable bid in order to make sure Lindbergh’s allocated public funds are not being used frivolously. And in a time when Lindbergh’s funds are under close scrutiny by the public following the teacher salary unrest during the 2015-16 school year, Lindbergh’s School Board cannot afford to waste money.

“All Lindbergh construction is funded by taxpayer dollars, and as a government entity, the Board of Education is responsible for selecting the lowest bidder to complete the work. The Board of Education ensures responsible use of taxpayer dollars by accepting the lowest bid for construction on every project,” Johnston said.

Roth says argues that IBEW prices may be higher than competitors, but it is not without good reason.

“The work we do is very difficult and very dangerous. Also, our wages are based on nine months out of the year since we cannot work in extreme conditions. We lost two workers last summer due to overheating. Construction is a very volatile market – you get no vacation and no sick days,” Roth said.

Many, including taxpayers like Marglous and the IBEW, also believe that, while the school district’s funds should not be wasted, Lindbergh should strive to get what they pay for when it comes to building projects. Marglous and the IBEW counter that, while they wouldn’t want the district to waste money, they want Lindbergh to make sure the work they pay for is well done.

“I’m really tired of us not using union workers and getting what we paid for. Things are already falling apart and being redone because we aren’t using good workers which ends up costing us more in the long run,” Marglous said.

Marglous reports that, in the ECE building on the LHS campus, the wall appears to be coming away from the floor. Also, this past year on the LHS campus, a staircase collapsed and was deemed unusable, and the crumbling awning leading from the Math Building to the Commons was torn down.

“There is a reason the ‘other guys’ are always cheap, and there is a reason that we cannot be. Also, the cheap prices don’t end up being as cheap in the end anyway – there are oftentimes ‘extras’ added onto the end that raise the final price. So you end up paying the same price, all that changes is whether you pay it up front or at the end. All we want is for Lindbergh to let us prove ourselves,” Roth said.

 

At the end of the day, it is up to the Lindbergh residents to decide what they value more. And if people want to see change or even to voice satisfaction with the way Lindbergh’s Board of Education is handling situations, it is up to them to make those concerns or praises heard. A School Board cannot act in the interest of its district’s residents if those residents never speak up about what they want to see happen or change.

Lindbergh Board of Education contact information can be found on Lindbergh’s website at https://go.lindberghschools.ws/Page/10094.

 

For any other questions regarding this piece:

Contact Beth Johnston:

Call: 314-729-2400, ext. 8802

Email: bjohnston@lindberghschools.ws

 

Contact IBEW Local 1: http://ibewlocalone.org/

Call: (314) 647-5900

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