Some find giant rat placed at South County funeral home disrespectful

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Some people think a local union crossed line and was disrespectful to the dead and their families.

A giant inflatable rat was placed in front of the Kutis Funeral Home in south St. Louis County to protest non-union work while funeral services were going on inside.

Chuck Grace saw the protestors and the rat. “It was a big old rat 10-12 foot tall,” Grace said.

He said it happened on Lemay Ferry Tuesday.  Grace, a former union member, was working across the street at some apartments when he saw protestors and the big inflatable rat. Grace said, “Disrespectful just not only to the dead folks but the folks coming here too.  They got family and they got feelings too. The last thing they want to see how would you like it if it was you.”

People with the Kutis declined to be interviewed on camera but said after reviewing several bids, it did select a non-union paving company to do work on the parking lot because of price and quality of work.  Plus, there was a personal connection between the Kutis family and the company.  Kutis also said since the 1940’s they’ve employed union embalmers and drivers. The funeral home owner thought the protest and inflatable rat were tasteless and tacky.

Reporter Roche Madden went to Laborers Union Local 110 to find out what business manager Don Willey had to say about the protest and the rat.

Madden asked, “What’s your response to the people who thought it was disrespectful to the dead and their families?”

Willey answered, “How does it disrespect the dead and their families?”

He said the giant rat and protest were used to educate people that Kutis hired non-union workers and to encourage the public not to do business with the funeral home. No one seemed to disagree the union has a right to protest. Margie Simon’s late father worked for Kutis and was a union member.

Simon said, “I mean it’s just tasteless I wouldn’t want a giant rat at my loved one’s funeral even my father being a union member.  That would upset me terribly to have a big rat outside the funeral home.”

Willey said they may return to protest again because work on the parking lot is not finished. Will they return with the rat? Willey replied, “I didn’t say that.” He added his members get funeral benefits and he wants them to know about Kutis hiring the non-union workers. Kutis also said their customers thought the whole thing was inappropriate. Readers and viewer should know, in full disclosure, Madden is a member of a union.

53 comments

  • Jim

    Well, I for one found the protest quite effective, I will from this point on think about whether or not the businesses I patron utilize union workers…and I will try to patronize those who dont…

  • Johnny

    I work in a union shop. We had one upstanding individual who was constantly late or absent. He finally missed enough time to get fired. The union got his job back for him. Wonder of wonders he still couldn’t make it to work but now he was on FMLA so he had a free pass on his attendance. Then he blew hot on a drug test. He was so drunk he couldn’t be allowed to him drive himself home. The union got him his job back again. Six week later he failed another drug test. It took over a year to get rid of this dead beat from the first time he was fired.

    Yea unions are great.

  • Rick Casson

    If anyone has ever been interviewed by the news media they know that the news media picks and chooses what they want to say. The reporter FORGOT to state that there was NO funeral at the time the rat was up. One should be aware that most wakes start at 4PM. The rat was taken down a little after 2PM. The son of a deceased union carpenter (that was laid out that day) talked to me personally at 1:50PM and agreed with what the union stands for and asked that we take the rat down. The rat was taken down a little after 2PM. I am a proud member and elected union official with Laborers’ Local 110. As elected officials there are many tough decisions to make. We want to stick up for our union contractors and their employees as this is our job. This was not the first time Kutis had the rat put up on them (no story then). Thank you for the comments but there is always two sides to every story. Rick Casson Secretary-Treasurer Laborers’ Local 110

    • Shamus

      Oy, the reporter is a union member, you have to forgive her incompetence. If I saw your “rat” while I was at a funeral, both it and you could be swept up by city sanitation workers. At least they are union, right? DB.

    • Jo

      And apparently union officials pick in choose what they report as well. Just a quick scan of the obituaries shows that at least one funeral went out at 12:00 which meant the family was there all morning. They got to see your rat! How many families came in to make funeral arrangements and had to see your rat?

  • allen

    Here we go again union people thinking they own the world and think no one else is aloud to work that isn’t part of there brotherhood

  • Bruno

    I would have to agree with Rick Cassons. We are in an age were we have to stick up for our paychecks.Do not blame the unions. Most (not all) Republicans have waged war on the working middle class.

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