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Politically Speaking: State Sen. Hummel on labor’s future, charter school expansion pushback

Sen. Jake Hummel, March 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Missouri state Sen. Jake Hummel to the show for the fourth time.


The St. Louis Democrat represents the 4th District, which takes in parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. He won a special election for the seat late last year.


Hummel is one of the top officials for the Missouri branch of the AFL-CIO. The union electrician was elected to the Missouri House in 2008 and ultimately served as the House Minority Leader for about four years.


Organized labor in Missouri experienced a major setback with the election of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, as the legislature quickly passed “right to work,” which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. The GOP-controlled General Assembly appears poised to pass more bills aimed at blunting union power, including curtailing prevailing wage laws that boosts pay for public projects in rural areas.

Here's what Hummel had to say during the show:

  • Some members of labor unions weren’t paying close attention to the fact that Greitens promised to sign the right-to-work bill if he was elected: “We have a lot of people that do not follow the news on a daily basis. When I stopped working in the field, I can tell you that I was the only one with a newspaper and everybody got one or two things from social media and that was it.”
  • Hummel and other union leaders are seeking to put “right to work” up for a vote. He says he’s confident organized labor groups can get the necessary signatures to make the referendum happen.
  • Senators will likely consider a bill allowing charter schools to open in more rural parts of the state instead of just St. Louis and Kansas City. Hummel opposes the legislation and says some Republican senators have misgivings about supporting it. “The comments that I’ve seen on some of the ones that voted for this proposal were pretty brutal,” he said, referring to rural House Republicans who supported the legislation. “And I think you’re going to find that a lot of these people made a terrible mistake in their own districts.”
  • He has not yet met with Greitens, who is the first chief executive from the city of St. Louis in decades. “The impression out there is that the legislature is run by outstate rural Republicans,” he said. “And I think that’s true. But now you have a governor who has at least been living in St. Louis city and hopefully understands the problems that are unique to St. Louis.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum


Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies


Follow Jake Hummel on Twitter: @jacobhummel


Music: “The No Seatbelt Song” & “The Shower Scene” by Brand New


Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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