Brandon Flinn, one of the most respected union leaders in the St Louis area and throughout the state of Missouri, was recently elected business manager of The Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council (EMLDC) by a vote of council delegates. Flinn replaces Gary Elliott who served on the District Council for 11 years.
Flinn now leads the nine Laborers locals, covering 62 counties and the city of St. Louis under the EMLDC umbrella. Membership includes over 9,000 journeymen and apprentices.
Flinn became business manager of Local 42 in 2007 after previously serving as auditor (2001-2002), executive board and field representative (2002-2006) and recording secretary (2006). He has been a member of Local 42 for 23 years.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA – liuna.org) is one of the most progressive and strongest unions in the country. With more than 500,000 members nationwide, LIUNA is the eighth largest Labor organization in America, representing a skilled and diverse workforce. Laborers are construction workers, government workers, health care providers, industrial employees, service workers, and educators.
LABORERS’ ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
“My major goal is to improve our visibility, within the community. To highlight LIUNA’s role as an asset to the community,” Flinn said. “Our members are youth coaches, church parishioners and are very positive forces within the communities they live.”
The Laborers’ Union has long supported area charities and members volunteer their time and talents when charities ask, from donating funds for Children’s Hospital programs to members donating their skills and labor for worthwhile causes.
“We are actively involved in our communities and place a great deal of importance on service and helping those in need,” Flinn said.
INFLUENCING PUBLIC POLICY
Flinn also wants the Laborers Union to take a larger role in influencing public policy.
The Laborers were heavily involved in the campaign last summer to defeat so-called “right-to-work” (Prop A), providing meeting and office space and a large contingent of volunteers for canvassing and phone banking efforts that helped lead to the overwhelming defeat of the anti-union, anti-worker measure on Aug. 7.
The Laborers also provided support and volunteers, along with other unions, in promoting Proposition D, the proposed motor fuels tax increase to help fund needed improvements to the state’s highways and bridges. Though voters rejected the increase –– most likely because of the confusing ballot language –– the involvement of the Laborers and other unions in the campaign helped focus attention on the desperate need for road construction and bridge improvements, something that could help win the support of voters if lawmakers float another proposal.
“Although Prop D was recently voted down, we will continue to support legislation that puts LIUNA members to work and makes Missouri more attractive to development,” he said.
STRENGTH OF DIVERSE MEMBERSHIP
The Laborers Union has had a proud, diverse membership since its inception. Maintaining and growing that diversity, Flinn said, is one of the strengths of the EMLDC.
“We are a union formed by immigrants,” he said. “I’m proud of what we have done in hiring, and outreach within the minority community, a large percentage of our apprentices are minorities.”
ORGANIZING AND ENGAGEMENT
The benefits of a union workforce – quality work done on time and under budget – are self-evident to union signatory contractors. Lesser known to the general public, are the union’s efforts to protect and grow that union contractor base to ensure fair competition and establish quality benchmarks across the building sector. Organizing and contractor engagement are key to those efforts, Flinn said.
“We protect signatory contractors through diligent pursuit of non-union competition, while also cultivating relationships with nonunion contractors to market the trained, productive and safe workers of LIUNA,” Flinn said.
The Laborers’ Midwest Region Organizing Committee (mrocnow.org), in conjunction with EMLDC, helps bring new members throughout eastern Missouri into the Laborers Union, helping workers achieve the benefits of collective bargaining and union representation.
BENEFITS FOR UNION MEMBERS
“We are constantly working to build our membership and consider more creative ways to invest our pension and general funds for projects that employ LIUNA members, the union crafts and help to facilitate development,” Flinn said.
“We are an asset to our signatory contractor partners and the business community, and reinvest in the communities that employ our members,” he said.
“All of these programs and effort are aimed at improving the lives of LIUNA members and their families,” Flinn said. “That’s my main goal — always.”
MEMBER BENEFITS OF
In addition to better wages and safer working conditions, members also benefit from the Laborers’ from the Labor/management collaboration in LIUNA’s Tri-Funds backed and promoted by the EMLDC:
• Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund.
• Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust.
• Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.
The Laborers have a state-of-the-art training center in High Hill, MO (laborers-highhill.org), funded through the Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund that educates Laborers in basic and specialized construction skills. The Training Center also administers the union’s Apprenticeship Program for new members.
“The Laborers’ Union is on the cutting edge of training,” Flinn said. “We want our members to keep improving their skills to improve their job availability and provide the tools to make that possible.”
The Midwest Region Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund (mrlhsf.org) was created in 1999 to protect the health and welfare of Laborers through education, training, and promotion of personal health and job safety that protects both members and contractors.