St. Louis County – The Greater St. Louis Labor Council told Democratic County Executive Charlie Dooley that it won’t endorse his re-election next year.
“We don’t see Charlie as the ally that he once was,” said Jeff Aboussie, secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council and vice president of the Labor Council.
“We just felt like our relationship was eroding and drifting apart,” Aboussie said. “It was time to do something different.”
The decision was approved by the Labor Council’s Executive Board at its meeting on Sept. 16.
Aboussie, Labor Council President Bob Soutier and Earline Jones, retired president of CWA 6377, informed Dooley of the board’s decision later that day.
“We’re disappointed by some of the things that he’s done in office,” Soutier said, noting that no single incident had prompted the board’s decision. Rather, he said, it was a culmination of actions including, but not limited to, the recent appointment of Republican Dave Spence to the county’s Police Board.
Spence, as the 2012 Republican candidate for governor, supported right-to-work (for less), which would bar unions or employers from collecting dues from all workers in a union shop, even though federal law requires unions to represent all workers in a union shop, whether they are dues paying members or not.
Last year, Dooley came under fire from union electricians from IBEW Local 1 and the Building and Construction Trades Council when a non-union contractor was awarded the electrical contract on the 911 Emergency Call Center in St. Louis County. Union voters helped the county pass a $100 million bond issue in 2009 to pay for the $16 million call center.
Dooley’s loss of union support is significant, and could be devastating if he has a strong Democratic rival – such County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton – in next year’s primary. Stenger has not formally announced his candidacy, but has been rumored for months to be preparing to run.
Labor unions have long been a key bloc for Dooley and other area Democrats, providing volunteers, financial support and votes.
Dooley’s previous elections in 2004, 2006 and 2010 involved substantial union involvement.
Without that support and boots on the ground for door-to-door campaigning, Dooley could find himself wanting going into the primary.
Dooley offered no apologies in response to the Labor Council’s decision.
“Nobody agrees on anything 100 percent of the time, but I will put my record of support for labor up against anyone’s,” Dooley said in a statement. “I am proud of my long history with labor, and this won’t change that.”