St. Louis Public Library Construction Project Accused of Discrimination

Kevin Killeen

ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Protestors are threatening to “shut down” construction work on the main library building downtown, unless more African Americans are hired for the multi-million dollar project.

Protestors claim they’ve been doing a head count of the job site in recent weeks and have found as many as 90 white construction workers going through the gate per day, but only a few blacks or none at all.

img 2532 St. Louis Public Library Construction Project Accused of Discrimination

construction workers at St. Louis Public Library

“If it doesn’t get any better, the protest is going to be bigger and we’re going to shut it down,” said Makal Ali with the African American Business and Contractors Association.   Ali says because blacks are 50-percent of the population in the city, they should get half of the construction jobs.

The Executive Director of the Library, Waller McGuire, told KMOX by phone that 25-percent of the contractors on the job are “minority-owned” firms, and that ten-percent of the workers are black.

On Monday,  KMOX saw about two dozen workers outside the building during the noon hour.   One black man was present.   The rest were white men.  

The threatened shutdown is planned for noon on Wednesday, organizers say.

Copyright KMOX

  • Robert

    Isn’t it discrimination to hire anyone based on race? If it’s not then we need to get a list of every race and nationality available in the St. Louis area and also make sure they have equal participation also. That would include Bosnian, Greek, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Slovakian, Russian, White, Laotian…. then we could just hire three people of each race and be in perfect harmony. Why do blacks think they are the only ones that should be participating in construction and have 25% or more of the workers on the job when other nationalities are not equally represented?

  • Ed Golterman

    For 20 years our civic center has been a ‘dead zone’ and for 20 years other cities and some towns have raced ahead of us. We are now showing a glimmer of ‘coming back’. which benefits all. Any glitches at all and there could soon be no jobs.

  • Phillip

    It’s discriminatory to exclude potential workers on the basis of race, not to want to expand your workforce so that other races can actually have meaningful participation. The downtown library project, like many other construction projects in the area, have an 80 to 90% caucasian trades workforce. How does it make sense to continually exclude a significant percentage of your population from one of the last vestiges of decent middle class wages? I’m not a big fan of protests and the like but, it is ridiculous to criticize the very legitimate concern over the lack of diversity on a major construction project in a city that is 48% African-American, yet consistently has 10% or less of the construction workforce be African American. This kind of disparity should concern anyone who want to ensure the long term economic viability of the city. The city cannot turn around if the African American population is not allowed to have a meaningful presence in significant projects.


    We need to realize that the construction workforce is not limited to workers within the city limits. It can be any worker in the local union jurisdiction, so this could be the whole metro area ~ 2.8 million population if not more. If you look at RCGA website demographics black population is 18.4 %~ 517,500 and white is 77.7% ~ 2,185,620, 3.9% ~ 110,000 other races. And this is just general population, the workforce demographic could be a little more or less % either direction. I would agree that 10% Black workforce is low for this Project but 50% would be difficult to achieved and plain doesn’t make sense. I believe somewhere between 18 to 25 % would be more achievable.
    Its just sad that we have to take a head count like this.
    I’m a project manager for a construction company and I hire a person by quality of work they produce , their ability and their attitude towards their work. period

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