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Awardees and officers of the St. Louis Port Council pose under a replica of the city’s famed Gateway Arch which was constructed by union members. From the left are George ”Butch” Welsch, PMC Vice President Jack Martorelli, MTD President Michael Sacco, SMWIA 36 President/Business Manager David Zimmermann, PMC President Richard Mantia, US Senator Clair McCaskill and PMC Secretary/Treasurer Becky Sleeper.

MTD President Michael Sacco (center) greets St. Louis Port Council President Richard Mantia (left) and Vice President Jack Martorelli.

Several hundred union members, their families and friends honored three community leaders at the Greater St. Louis Area and Vicinity Port Council’s 32ndAnnual Dinner on May 5.

Brother David Zimmermann of Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) Local 36 received the Labor Man of the Year Award. George “Butch” Welsch was recognized as Management Man of the Year. The council presented U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) with its Joe Sacco Friend of Labor Award.

Zimmermann serves as the president and business manager of SMWIA Local 36, where the dinner was held. He started his career with the local as an apprentice in 1973. He is a third generation member of the Sheet Metal Workers, and noted his uncle received the same award years ago. Zimmermann saluted the way the unions, industry and community work together in St. Louis because “without their ongoing support, I wouldn’t be standing here this evening.”

In introducing Welsch, PMC Secretary-Treasurer Becky Sleeper said he “may be management on paper but he’s union at heart.” He serves as president of the 117-year-old Welsch Heating and Cooling Company, where he has worked for more than 50 years. The workers at Welsch are members of SMWIA Local 36.

“I believe our two organizations have shown the way how things were done in the past and should be done,” Welsch said of his company and the union. “Our enemy is the competition, not each other. Together, we can do it better.”

McCaskill declared her being recognized with the Joe Sacco Friend of Labor: “This is a big deal to me. I understand what the port council is. Your unions represent thousands of workers who want their voices heard.

“Some yahoos want to say the problem is the workers who work every day for a living wage. We know the problem is not the fire fighters, the police officers, the teachers and the men and women who belong to your unions.”

The senator concluded by stating she is proud “to stand up for the working men and women of this state.”

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