Lack of jobs for new bridge frustrates some in East St. Louis

Belleville News-DemocratAugust 16, 2011 

EAST ST. LOUIS -- Elliott Reliford has 13 years experience as a laborer and says he's frustrated that people are coming from towns and cities far away from East St. Louis and are being allowed to work on the new Mississippi River bridge while he is still out of work.

Reliford was at a meeting in the City Council chambers that was held for people to voice their concern over a lack of jobs for residents, particularly on the Mississippi River bridge.

The meeting was held just prior to city leaders getting together at a closed meeting with IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider and a federal mediator in Mayor Alvin Parks' office.

"I just want to work." Reliford said. "I am about to lose my house. I can't look my children in the eyes. My wife is paying all of the bills now, but how long do you think that'll last? I am a man. It feels like they took my manhood away. I can't provide for my family."

For four months, he's been driving to the union hall early in the morning and sitting there for several hours, only to be told there's no work.

"I go home and come back and do the same thing over and over with the same result," he said. " It costs me gas money. I have to have a car and it has to be maintained. I pay $25 a month to be in the union and I am not getting work. It's very frustrating. What can you do, though?"

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