Painters Cry Foul on MLB Team

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The St. Louis Cardinals may have a storied history of winning, but when some union painters cried foul, the team was handed a legal loss shortly before the shortened 2020 season. Painting for the team's stadium is a sought-after job, and many painters will quit other painting jobs to take advantage of the opportunity.

When the longtime painting foreman retired, several stadium painters complained that the new foreman had too much involvement in non-union painting activities and should not have been given the job. Upon investigation, IUPAT District Council 58, based across the river from the stadium in Collinsville, Illinois, found some validity to the complain. While it kept the new foreman in the position, it fined him for those activities. The painters who lodged the complaint were not rehired for the ensuing season – since they had those jobs for a long time (one for almost ten years), they said, it was tantamount to being fired.

The painters alleged that the new foreman, in league with the team, was illegally retaliating against them. The team responded that the foreman could hire whoever he wanted and that “actions have consequences” which was interpreted that the painters who reported his activities lost their jobs due to their filing the union grievance. While the rulings were in favor of the painters, NLRB was required to consider the team’s allegations of shoddy work and on-the-job marijuana use by the painters involved.

Before this year’s season started, a judge ruled that the Cardinals violated federal labor law when they didn’t rehire the painters, that the team was guilty of discrimination and would be responsible for reinstating them along with providing back pay for time missed. One of the painters was rehired, but with COVID-19 in play, his job along with many stadium jobs were placed on hiatus.

The dispute has not been fully resolved as the team keeps appealing the rulings, confounding the union painters who want their jobs back.

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