By TIM ROWDEN
Tishaura O. Jones made history April 6 when she was elected the first Black woman mayor of the City of St. Louis, an historic win that also promises to be good for Labor.
Jones has appointed Nancy Cross, former vice-president of SEIU Local 1, to her transition team, plans to establish a Labor liaison position in the mayor’s office, and has proposed working with Labor to expand apprenticeship programs.
“Unions don’t just create jobs,” Jones said prior to the election, “they create futures.”
Jones was not directly endorsed by the Labor Council because both she and her opponent, 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer, have been reliable friends of Labor. However, Jones was endorsed by AFGE Locals 96, 2192 and 3445, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), CWA locals 6355 and 6300, the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality, Service Employees (SEIU) Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare-Missouri, UAW Midwest States CAP and United Here Local 74, which represents hotel and restaurant workers.
‘ARM-IN-ARM WITH WORKERS’
“They have both been good, reliable friends of Labor and working families,” said Labor Council President Pat White. “That said, this is a historic victory, and we wholeheartedly congratulate Mayor-elect Jones. She has stood up for working families throughout her career. When there has been a fight for higher wages, for health and safety protocols, for dignity in the workplace, she has been there with us, arm-in-arm with workers to ensure they are treated with fairness and respect.”
John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, said Jones’ commitment to making sure Labor is represented in the mayor’s office, and her desire to work with Labor to expand apprenticeship opportunities, bodes well for union training programs and for city residents.
“Union jobs change lives,” Stiffler said. “We’ve known that for years. And our Building Union Diversity (BUD) program has proven that time and again by helping people who might not have thought a career in the trades was possible to get started in rewarding, good-paying, lifelong careers.
“Our trained union workers do the best job, with the best benefits and protections of anyone in the country, and I look forward to working with Mayor-elect Jones to expand those opportunities to others,” Stiffler said.
HISTORY OF SUPPORT
As Treasurer, Jones raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour for employees in her office and she has promised to push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage throughout the city.
She has stood with campus workers and housekeepers as they fought to win a path to $15/hour at Washington University and union janitors fighting for the same at downtown St. Louis office buildings. She stood with Postal Workers fighting to save the post office from draconian cuts imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and with healthcare workers demanding a $15 minimum wage and health protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the run-up to the election, she joined members of SEIU Healthcare Missouri in a rally outside Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing, where workers have been fighting for a fair contract for more than six months and joined Teamsters Local 618 members on strike at the Valvoline plant in St. Louis.
“I have always, and will always stand with you,” Jones said in a pre-election speech before the Labor Council. “I am a fighter for our working families. I will work with regional and state leaders like St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and (Kansas City) Mayor Clinton Lucas to stand up to the Missouri Legislature and I’m ready to be the champion that our working people need.
“The truth is the fight to protect and expand Organized Labor and the rights of workers in our city is far from over. We have so much work to do, and the attacks on unions from the state capitol are not going to stop. You know that, and I know that. We have to stay ready, so we don’t have to get ready.”
Nancy Cross appointed to mayor-elect’s transition team
St. Louis mayor-elect Tishaura O. Jones took another important step last week in committing to the needs of working families by appointing a former union officer to her 12-member transition team.
Nancy Cross, former vice president of Service Employees Local 1 in St. Louis and former member of the St. Louis Labor Council’s executive board, was appointed to the transition committee last week. The Jones administration has only until next Tuesday, April 20, to prepare for assuming control of the city’s operations.
“We are happy to see mayor-elect Jones having a worker-oriented union person like Nancy Cross at the table as she puts together her new administration, ensuring the needs of working men and women are considered,” said Pat White, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council.
Stressing the important role Organized Labor plays in the community, Jones has committed to appointing a Labor liaison in the mayor’s office. The Labor Council and Building & Construction Trades Council are expected to make recommendations to fill the role.