For the first time in 18 years, the Missouri AFL-CIO has all new leadership at the top. And both new leaders are from the St. Louis area.
New president Mike Louis of St. Charles says renewed energy will be needed to block “relentess’’ attacks against labor unions and the middle class by some conservative Missouri legislators.
“It’s a new day,’’ said Louis, 60, in an interview Tuesday, just hours after his official election by the state labor union’s executive board.
“It is time to stop the agenda of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and other well-funded special-interest groups that would damage our education, fair taxation and limit worker’s rights. I look forward to working with all of labor, responsible employers and the legislators who share in our concerns for preserving the middle class here in Missouri."
The state AFL-CIO’s number two person is state Rep. Jake Hummel of St. Louis, head of the House Minority Caucus, who now is the state union’s secretary/treasurer.
Hummel said in a statement that he is "very proud to be part of this organization and looking forward to the challenge. Working together as a labor movement is the only way we can stand up to the extremists who put our middle class at risk to reward the CEOs who have been shipping Missouri jobs overseas.”
The fact that Louis and Hummel are both from the St. Louis area highlights the region's continued clout in the labor movement.
Louis praised the 18-year tenure of Hugh McVey as head of the state AFL-CIO, who had followed in the footsteps of his predecessor and uncle, Duke McVey.
“It is a great honor to follow President McVey and those others who have come before me in this fight to empower the workers of Missouri to get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” Louis said. “That is all that the working people of this state want.”
Louis has been a member of the Machinists union since 1973, and joined the fulltime staff in 1987 as a business representative. He has been president since 2004 of the Machinists’ state council, which is the union’s political arm.
Louis also has been active in Democratic politics, serving as president of the St. Charles County Democratic Club and decades ago as the founding member and president of the St. Charles County Young Democrats. He also was a Missouri delegate to the Democratic presidential convention in 1992 in New York, and served as St. Charles County campaign chairman for then-Gov. Bob Holden.