To succeed retiring Bob Soutier Jan. 1
By ED FINKELSTEIN
Pat White, the president-elect of the St. Louis Labor Council by unanimous vote of council delegates July 15, is no stranger to the ways of unions because his life is immersed in labor union culture and work.
From his first day on the job as an insulator permit worker right out of high school, Brother White has been a union member, and he loves it.
White is currently business representative for Gas Workers Local 11-6. He has been a union member for 26 years. He will take office as the Labor Council’s new chief executive on Jan. 1, 2015 when President Bob Soutier retires after nine years as council president and 43 years as a machinist, 35 of them as an organizer and business representative for Machinist District 9.
“We have big challenges ahead of us,” White said in a recent interview with the Labor Tribune. “The biggest is helping non-union workers, political and business leaders and the community-at-large understand who we really are and how unions and union members play an essential role in the viability of our communities, our state and our nation.
“That, in itself, will not be an easy task,” he added.
“Immediately, we still have the challenge of right-to-work that so many wealthy, out-of-state special interest groups want to force down our throats without the public realizing how badly it will hurt all workers and the state’s economy. That will drive what we do in Jefferson City for several years to come.”
STRONG UNION FAMILY
White, 46, could not help but love the labor movement.
Born and raised in North St. Louis, his entire family and friends have been union members, leaders and committed trade unionists. You could say, without contradiction, White has been involved in labor unions since birth.
His father, Pat Sr. was a foreman in Insulators and Allied Trades Local 1 where Pat went to work as a permit worker on a Monday two days after graduating high school. His first experience as a union member was a short stint as a member of UFCW Local 655 while working at Schnucks in high school.
After three years as an Insulators permit worker, he joined Laclede Gas as a service man, now a member of Local 11-6 (then Gas Workers Local 6). After five years on the job, his skills and savvy were recognized and he was elected shop steward for the union, representing some 800 Laclede Gas workers.
During his 12 years as a shop steward, he served as a trustee for three years and then was elected the local’s president for three years until 2006 when he was elected the union’s full-time business representative and political director, the position he’s held for the last eight years.
Brother White’s upbringing was all union.
Pat Sr. was a St. Louis fire fighter for 22 years, a member of Fire Fighters Local 73. Before his retirement in his early 50’s, he served as the local’s secretary-treasurer.
However, Pat Sr. wasn’t ready to retire. He joined Insulators Local 1 and for the next 13 years worked insulating powerhouses.
Brother White’s mother was a member of UFCW Local 655 working a various Schnucks and National Food stores. At one time or another, the majority of his five of his sisters were union members.
His late uncles, Jack and Jimmy, were Local 11-6 president and business representative respectively.
He has uncles who are Local 1 and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 members and other relatives are ironworkers, gas workers, electricians, retail clerks, stagehands and insulators.
ALWAYS UNION, ALL THE TIME
“Even when we watch sports, we’re always talking union,” White said with a smile.
Brother White is married to Maggie Murphy-White, a life-long north county resident who is a social worker for the Alzheimer’s Association. They’ve known each other for 29 years and have been married for 19. The have two sons, Patrick III, 17, and Danny, 14, both of whom attend CBC.
COMMITTED TRADE UNIONIST
Brother White is currently a trustee and vice president of the Labor Council, and an executive board member of the North County and Tri-County Labor Clubs. He is also an active lobbyist for Local 11-6 and the Missouri AFL-CIO when the state legislature is in session.
He previously served two terms on the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District board of directors.
The Whites are parishioners at Immaculate Conception Dardenne Parish.
In what free time he can carve out of his busy union career, he coaches his sons’ baseball and basketball teams. He is, when time allows, an avid golfer.