Labor lawyer extraordinaire Cary Hammond remembered

Cary Hammond



Two Cardinal baseball greats died within days of each other.

One was THE great Cardinal player: Stan Musial.

One was a great Cardinal fan: attorney Cary Hammond.

Both were greatly loved, admired, respected.

More than enough has been said about Stan the Man.

Not enough has been said about Cary the Lawyer.


Cary Hammond, 65, one of the founding partners and president of Hammond Shinners Attorneys-at-Law (originally Diekemper, Hammond & Shinners), was, in the finest sense, a workers’ lawyer.

Oh, he was a lawyer’s lawyer to be sure, whose legal mind was up there with the best of them, but he was first and foremost a lawyer who believed in the labor movement, what it stands for, and how it works to protect workers and their families.

And he was so much more.

At his funeral service Sat., Jan. 26, an overflow crowd at the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood mourned the loss of their husband, father, mentor, partner, friend.

His partner of 34 years, Rick Shinners summed up everyone’s feelings:

“Cary was a man of unbounded intellect, unparalleled eloquence, uncanny and unnerving humor, undaunted courage and fiercely loyal to his family first, his friends and his lifelong cause – the Labor Movement and, of course, the people who the unions represent.

“For all of us who knew Cary, life will simply no longer be the same,” he said, recalling that when they first met in law school some 40 years ago and Cary announced to him that they were going to be law partners, “I thought to myself that I had never met anyone like him before. It’s now 40 years later and my feeling is the same today as it was then: I have still never met anyone like Cary Hammond.”

Joe Larrew, a partner of 30 years, pointed out why almost every labor leader in St. Louis was at the funeral mass or attended the wake: “Cary’s heart and soul was with working class people and he know that their plight and fight would always be an uphill battle.”


Pointing out that had Cary worked for the “other side” he could have made a great deal more money, Larrew said, “But he made a decision and a commitment to represent and champion labor and workers. As a result, many men and women and their families have enjoyed better, safer lives.

One of his early clients was the St. Louis Labor Council. “Cary was a good lawyer, a great fan, a great dad, and a super friend,” said council president emeritus Bob Kelley.

“I met Cary over 30 years ago, when he and two of his colleagues became my lawyers. They had just formed their practice. I often teased Cary that the reason they grew in size and stature was that I kept getting in trouble,” Kelley said with a twist on the humor that Cary was known to have for everyone. “He embraced his duty to represent his client with vigor and responsibility.”

Cary was a tireless advocate for collective bargaining, both in and out of the courts, and consistently stressed the importance of constructive labor—management partnerships.  In his first case in federal court he represented 26 unions, labor leaders and members in a lawsuit stemming from the unions’ victorious 1978 defeat of the phony Right-to-Work (for less) campaign. All the defendants were exonerated on all counts.

More than just a lawyer, Cary was a confidant to many union leaders, offering advice when asked on any number of issues, legal and personal.

A true Democrat from the day of his birth, Cary loved his politics almost as much as he loved the law.


Hammond represented dozens of labor unions as well as multi-employer benefit plans in Missouri and Illinois for more than 35 years. Among his many clients were two major central bodies, the Greater St. Louis Labor Council and Teamsters Joint Council 13.

He was continuously listed in the Best Lawyers of America since 1993 and last year, the publication named him the Outstanding Union Labor Lawyer in the St. Louis area, and that’s a singular accomplishment considering how many great labor lawyers there are here.

And while he was always busy, Cary found time to be involved with the community. He served as a board member and chair for the Productive Living Board of St. Louis County, was the chair of the St. Louis County Reapportionment Commission in 1991 and was a member of the University of Missouri Advisory Committee on the 21st Century.

Cary was the beloved husband of Leigh E. Hammond (nee Hearnes); father of Clayton and Catherine Hammond; brother of Kathy (Dennis) Thiele and Craig (Judy) Hammond; son of the late Lester and Virginia Hammond; dear son-in-law of Betty C. and the late Governor Warren E. Hearnes; brother-in-law of Julie (Dr. Dan) Sindelar and the late Lynn C. Hearnes.

He was buried Jan. 26 at Oak Hill Cemetery.


A graduate of Normandy High School (1966), Cary received a B.A. with honors from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 1970 and in 1975 his law degree, again with honors, from the St. Louis University School of Law. He was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1975 and practiced in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Missouri, the 7th and 8th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Missouri.

He and his two friends and partners, Jerry Diekemper and Rick Shinners, launched their own law firm – Diekemper, Hammond & Shinners- in 1979. Diekemper withdrew from Hammond & Shinners in 2006 to pursue mediation and arbitration full-time, and the firm was renamed Hammond & Shinners.

As a show of the respect held for him nationally, he was selected to be a member of the AFL-CIO’s Lawyers Coordinating Committee, and often was a presenter at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

He was a member of the St. Louis County Bar Association, American Bar Association, the Lawyers Association of St. Louis, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and the Labor and Employment Relations Association, Gateway Chapter.


Memorial donations may be made to either Action for Autism, 15834 Clayton Road, Ellisville, Mo. 63022 or “$5 for the Fight,” % St. Louis Labor Council, 3301 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044.

Anyone wishing to share a thought or condolences can do so by going to

The Labor Tribune, on behalf of the entire labor movement, expresses its condolences to his family and friends. May Cary’s Soul Rest In Peace.



Friends, clients speak of Cary Hammond’s life

That he fought for workers from so many unions in St. Louis, or supported other lawyers who were in some complicated union-oriented litigation, labor leadership wanted to pay their final tribute to attorney Cary Hammond who died Jan. 21 of cancer.

Bob Kelley, president emeritus, Greater St. Louis Labor Council: “Many of us enjoy jokes about lawyers. Most of the time the stories are demeaning to the legal profession, and often lawyers come off as heartless. Nothing could be further from the truth when it came to Cary Hammond. Cary was an advocate, defender, and an interpreter of principle. He embraced his duty to represent his clients with vigor and responsibility…. Cary was all of the virtues his profession strives to achieve.”

Bob Soutier, president, St. Louis Labor Council: “Cary Hammond was one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to the labor movement here. For 35 years I’ve known him, his knowledge and skill, not only as a labor lawyer, but in the highly specialized area of benefit plans, was second to none. He worked with huge pension and welfare funds of our unions protected thousands and thousands of members who were never denied benefits because of Cary’s input.”

Dave Cook, president, UFCW Local 655: “Cary Hammond was a visionary for the future. His undying belief in working people was indescribable. You know, when it comes to labor law, Taft-Hartley fund law, lawyers can learn that in college.  What they can’t teach is the ability to see the Big Picture and Cary was THE master at that. When it came to relating politics to workers’ issues, he was a genius. He knew that the labor movement and the middle class had to survive if America is to survive, and he was always thinking about how to help make that happen. On top of all that, he was a caring, compassionate person whose central focus was working people, especially union members and their families. We lost a giant when we lost Cary.”

Tony Rippeto, directing business representative, Machinists District 9: “District 9 was his first client. We knew him well, he was an important, trusted advisor to our leadership and our locals. The fact is he was a great friend to labor in general. When I took the leadership reins, he was one of the key people I would turn to for counsel. He always gave trusted advice. He will be sorely missed.”

Gary Elliott, business manager, Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council: “We are losing a good soldier in the fight for workers’ rights. Where so many people look for the quick fix, Cary looked long term and was able to relate labor’s past history to the challenges of the future. I’ve never known someone as insightful as Cary Hammond. He was a great man, in his family life and his work life. He never tried to play one leader against the other. He was fair. He was always looking out for the working man.”

Marvin Kropp, president, Teamsters Joint Council 13: ”Cary Hammond has always been a staunch advocate for organized labor and our causes. Not only was he one of the most respected labor lawyers that I had the privilege to meet in my 28 years as an officer, he was even a better person. There wasn’t any time day or night that Cary wouldn’t answer his phone to discuss a Teamster issue. All Teamster locals in Joint Council 13 will miss him dearly; we lost a true friend.”

Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer, St. Louis Building Trades Council: “Here was a man that never had a mean bone in his body. Labor was his passion, and that he was able to earn a reasonable living was secondary. For him it was not the money, it was the cause. His advice, his insight, his knowledge on critical issues like right-to-work (for less) was invaluable. He would always end any conversation: ‘Let me know how I can help.’ That was the mark of the man.”

• Tim Luebbert, International Vice President, Missouri Director UNITE-HERE: “To me personally, Cary’s death was one of the biggest losses since my father. When I took office 20 years ago with Local 74, I wanted the greatest labor mind available, and it was Cary Hammond. I hired him on my first day in office. Never regretted that decision. If anyone in the labor movement needed help for their members, Cary was the first one to go to for advice. Our general president called Cary one of the smartest labor minds he’s met anywhere in the country.”

• Keith Linderer, business manager, Operating Engineers 148: Cary was a true champion of the labor movement. He was the most courageous attorney I’ve ever known. We fought a lot of battles together against a lot of good company legal minds, but he bested them all! He had an incredible drive. He would call me late at night or on weekends to discuss an arbitration we were working. He was not only a great attorney, he was a good friend. He’ll be sorely missed.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: One interesting aspect that kept coming up over and over during these interviews: that Cary could have earned a lot more money working for “the other side,” but he made a conscientious decision to work with labor unions and help union families. This is a lasting tribute to a fine human being and great labor lawyer.


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