Tuesday night the St. Louis County Council passed a new ordinance that in part requires contractors have a U.S. Department of Labor approved apprentice program.
That provision drew criticism from some civil rights groups who said it was unfairly pro-union.
“You know there are any number of minority owned contractors who are not union contractors,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis branch of the NAACP. “We’ve fought this fight a hundred times about this language and how it excludes them simply because they’re not tied to the union.”
But County Executive Charlie Dooley said after the meeting that those criticisms are unfair.
“We look at everything that we do,” Dooley said. “If there’s something we missed we’ll go back and look at it. The ordinance that we have now, we’re going to see how it works. If something needs to be tweaked we’ll do that, but right now, this is what the council voted on.”
The new rule applies to contracts with the county of $25,000 or more.
A representative for Republican Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, Tim Jones, told the council that the ordinance placed non-union contractors at a competitive disadvantage.
The ordinance also requires contractors have drug testing policies in place and provide for Occupational Safety and Health Administration training.
The new ordinance passed along party lines, with five Democrats voting for it and two Republicans voting against it.
Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd