Missouri businessman and political activist Scott Faughn doesn’t try to mask his political leanings.

“I am conservative,” he said. “Extremely conservative.”

But that didn’t stop him from moving his weekly public affairs show to a studio staffed by members of St. Louis Local 4.  If anything, the IBEW affiliation enhanced the studio’s reputation for Faughn, who says being a conservative doesn’t equate to being anti-union.

“I like to be free to run my businesses as I see fit and in Missouri, unions provide significant advantages of skilled workers and an organized group to discuss partnering with,” he said.

Faughn is host of “This Week in Missouri Politics,” which airs on television stations in St. Louis and three other markets. In 2014, an executive from the Gate Way Group, a St. Louis lobbying firm, urged him to check out a studio in the suburb of Brentwood.

Pelopidas, Gate Way’s parent company, had started its own production company called First Rule Broadcasting, which was working out of the facility. Gate Way has mostly conservative clients. But the five production staffers are from Local 4, including Rob Glessner, who runs the studio and serves as a shop steward.

Scott Faughn, the host of “This Week in Missouri Politics,” discusses an upcoming show with St. Louis Local 4 Business Manager Michael Pendergast, left, and Rob Glessner, right, a Local 4 shop steward and the director of First Rule Broadcasting. Faughn recently moved his show from a nonunion shop to one staffed by Local 4 members.
Photo provided by The Labor Tribune.

“I definitely used the fact that we were a union shop as a benefit,” Glessner said. “But once he saw our studios, he realized they were definitely nicer. The union shop was a pretty easy sell.”

Local 4 Business Manager Michael Pendergast agrees it’s an unusual marriage, but one that unions should celebrate. That’s because they need all the friends they can get in Missouri, which has narrowly avoided passing right-to-work legislation in recent years.

Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the state’s General Assembly. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed right-to-work legislation that passed last year and 20 Republican members of the state House crossed party lines and voted no on the override attempt, leaving it 13 votes short. The matter is expected to come up again in this year’s legislative session.

Faughn, however, says he’s against it. The more self-described conservatives like him come out against it, the better the chances it gets beat back again in the legislature, Pendergast said.

“We all know businesses that are really good at creating messages and lobbying groups,” Pendergast said. “For us to find someone with that type of background that isn’t against organized labor is really refreshing.”

“It’s important to bring some recognition to people like this because there’s probably a lot of employers that feel the same way as Scott Faughn, but are reluctant to come out from behind the bushes,” he said.

Glessner said he’s optimistic the addition of Faughn’s show will lead to more work for Local 4 at the studio. Once he sits down with prospective clients, they quickly realize that union workers come at the same price and are better trained, he said.

“It’s important for me to say we’re a union shop and get the word out any way we can,” Glessner said. “We’re going to be competitive in costs and we’re going to give you a quality product.”

For his part, Faughn plays it down the middle during most of his shows, which features in-depth conversations about current events that usually includes two Democrats and two Republicans. He says he’s against right-to-work because it’s another example of big government at work telling someone how to run his or her business.

“My determination was that my previous studio did a great job,” Faughn said. “First Rule has just been better, for a fair price, and yes, I enjoy the confidence in union labor.”