Jefferson City – Several anti-worker bills were pre-filed for this legislative session, promising more of the same from Missouri’s Republican controlled legislature, Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Mike Louis said.
“We wish the legislators would be serious about creating jobs and doing what’s best for the working families in Missouri in creating good paying jobs and quit playing games with catch phrases like ‘right-to- work’ and paycheck protection and prevailing wage, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the trend in pre-filed bills,” said Louis, the state federation’s lead lobbyist in Jefferson City.
Louis, a former business representative for Machinists District 9, took over the secretary-treasurer’s post this year following the retirement of longtime Secretary-Treasurer Herb Johnson. (See related story at the end of this post.)
Louis said the pre-filed bills include measures addressing “right-to-work” (for less), paycheck deception, a measure repealing all prevailing wage laws, a measure modifying prevailing wage determinations, a measure on workers’ compensation that includes provisions hurtful to workers and a measure barring employers from negotiating closed shop clauses with their unions.
“Making it illegal for employers to negotiate closed shop clauses is really just ‘right-to-work,’ ” Louis said. “What all of these bills are aimed at is weakening the union worker’s voice.”
Much as was the case last year, Louis said the bills put labor leaders “in a position where we end up playing defense and reaching across the aisle to the members of the controlling party in the House and the Senate who understand that organized labor is really the backbone of the middle class. Hopefully, we can maintain those relationships.”
Missouri lawmakers returned Jan. 9 to the state Capitol for a session that runs through mid-May. Republicans expanded their majority in the state House in the November election, and a unified GOP caucus now can override a gubernatorial veto without Democratic support.
With that in mind, and with anti-worker legislation already in the pipeline, Louis said, “We just have to shore up our first- and second-tier friends who sit on the side of the aisle with the majority and hope that they continue to understand that if it weren’t for organized labor, the tax base itself would continue to erode.”
New Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer ready for the challenge
Jefferson City – Mike Louis is facing a new challenge in his career as a union leader.
Louis, who recently took over as Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, following the retirement of longtime Secretary-Treasurer Herb Johnson, will spend his first legislative session here battling a flurry of anti-worker legislation pre-filed before the session had even begun.
Missouri lawmakers returned Jan. 9 to the state Capitol for a session that runs through mid-May.
“I’m feeling challenged, but I don’t think it’s a challenge that organized labor can’t overcome to protect our members,” Louis said.
RAISED IN A UNION FAMILY
Louis was raised in a union family. His father, Harold, was recording secretary and past local president of United Cement Lime and Gympsum Workers Local 36. His mother, Ruth, was a Democratic precinct woman and an activist in the Democratic Party in the St Ferdinand Township of North St. Louis County.
CAREER WITH THE MACHINISTS
Louis began his career with the Machinists Union in 1973, when he was initiated into District 9 as an apprentice. In 1977 he became a journeyman automotive and truck mechanic belonging to Local 777 of the International Association of Machinists District 9.
Louis was first elected as a shop steward and to the negotiating committee in 1981. In 1984 he was elected as a local lodge officer and to his first International Convention and has been an elected delegate to every International Convention since.
On January 1, 1987 he joined the full time staff of District 9 as a Business Representative.
In 1990, Louis was elected a delegate to the Missouri State Council of Machinist, which serves as the political arm of the Machinist Union.
In 2000, he was appointed as the legislative chairman of the State Council and served there until elected president of the State Council in 2004, an office which he still holds.
Over the years Louis has served as the St Charles County Chairman for Governor Bob Holden’s first and second campaigns, a founding member and past president of the St Charles County Young Democtrats, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1992, president of the St Charles County Democratic Club and a member of the first executive board of the Tri-County Labor Legislative Club, of which he is still a member.
“I’m looking forward to serving the many members of organized labor in the state of Missouri, as well as all working families in their struggles to build and maintain a quality life during and beyond their working years,” Louis said.
Louis and his wife Susan have a blended family of five children and nine grandchildren. Of their five children, four are members of labor unions, including Laborers Local 42, Francis Howell Teachers Union, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 and Machinists Local 777.