The St. Louis Labor Council has taken an “Open” position on the St. Louis Mayor’s race with City Treasurer Tishaura Jones is facing off against 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer for the city’s top slot.
The Labor Council chose to remain open on the race because Jones and Spencer both have a record of standing up for Labor and workers’ rights. The Council’s open status on the race frees affiliated unions to endorse the candidate of their choice
Jones and Spencer both spoke last week at a first of its kind joint session of the executive boards of the St. Louis Labor Council and St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council.
Both have promised to establish a Labor liaison in the mayor’s office to ensure Organized Labor and working families have a seat at the table.
Spencer has a record of standing with workers on issues. She fought to increase the minimum wage in the city to $10/hour (a change that was later reversed by the Missouri Legislature), joined with construction and building trades unions to raise the alarm over public safety issues in the long-delayed redevelopment of the Jefferson Arms building in downtown St. Louis, and opposed efforts to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, a change that would threaten the security of union jobs at the airport.
More recently, Spencer supported a union-backed pension measure overwhelmingly approved by the Board of Aldermen but vetoed by Mayor Lyda Krewson last month to return supervision of all city Fire Department pensions to a fire fighter-controlled board.
“I am a friend of Labor; I have been, and I will continue to be,” Spencer said.
Responding to the recent news that the City of St. Louis had been selected as a Stimulus Command Center, receiving approximately $500 million in direct financial assistance from the American Rescue Plan, Spencer said: “This is an enormous opportunity, a once in a century opportunity for the city of St. Louis and the region to turn around decades of disinvestment and put our community on the path for growth…
“I will stand on the right side of Labor when we’re looking at investing an unprecedented amount of funds from the federal government in the city of St. Louis.
“I look forward to working with you all. It’s important to have each and every one of you at the table when we’re making these decisions and I am committed to having a Labor liaison not just at City Hall but in the mayor’s office to put you at the table when we’re making all of these decisions across the board.”
Jones raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour for employees in the Treasurer’s office and has promised to push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage throughout the city if elected.
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 has also stood with Postal Workers fighting to save the post office from draconian cuts imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and healthcare workers demanding a $15 minimum wage and health protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, 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. (See related story on this Page 1.)
“I have always, and will always stand with you,” Jones said. “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.”
In addition to instating a Labor liaison in the mayor’s office, Jones has proposed working with Labor to expand apprenticeship programs.
“Unions don’t just create jobs – they create futures,” Jones said. “And that is what is at stake in this race: the future of our city.”