By TIM ROWDEN
Bob Soutier is retiring as president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council.
Soutier, 62, announced his decision June 18 at the council’s monthly delegate meeting.
“It’s been really, really good,” Soutier said. “I just want to say ‘Thank you.’ I hope you’ve enjoyed having me as your president as much as I’ve enjoyed you and working for the labor movement.”
Soutier (Machinists District 9) has served as council president since 2005, when he replaced longtime Council President Robert Kelley, who held the post for 26 years. Soutier has previously served as secretary-treasurer of the council.
NOMINATIONS AND ELECTION
The council’s executive board has tapped Gas Workers Local 11-6 Business Representative Pat White to replace Soutier pending a special election to fill the remainder of Soutier’s term through December 2015.
Nominations will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tuesday, July 15 delegate meeting at IBEW, Local 1 Hall, 5850 Elizabeth Ave.
If an election is needed, voting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 delegate meeting.
‘TOUGHER THAN EVER’
Soutier will step down as president on December 31, but will stay on as a special advisor through April 1, 2015, so as not to leave his successor flat-footed going into the next legislative session, when right-to-work and other anti-worker measures are expected to resurface in the Republican-controlled House and Senate.
“The issues that we face today are tougher than they’ve ever been,” Soutier said, referring to this year’s legislative battles over right-to-work, paycheck deception, anti-prevailing wage measures, attacks on teachers and public sector workers and other anti-worker measures, all of which are expected to continue unabated next year.
Soutier noted that labor unity and bipartisan outreach and the grassroots efforts of union members visiting, calling and writing to their representatives on both sides of the aisle, helped forestall those attacks this year, but the battle is not over.
“Over the last three years, as we have grown as a movement, we’ve gone to Jefferson City and talked to those ‘terrible Republicans,’ and found that some of them aren’t that terrible. But it’s a different culture,” Soutier said.
“We’re not taking this lightly,” he said. “Because the lives of the members we represent can be changed with the stroke of a pen.”