State Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), the first woman to go through the apprenticeship program of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1, has achieved another historic first by becoming the first woman elected president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
Walsh was elected unanimously.
The Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council provides coordination and support to the work of its affiliated unions giving organized construction workers a powerful voice in government, bargaining and their communities.
“My voice will be the voice of the working men and women of this state,” Walsh said. “I’m really honored to have been elected to this position because my passion is supporting the people that do the heavy lifting in our state.”
Walsh replaces former president Tim Green, a veteran legislator and rank-and-file electrician, who recently resigned the building trades post to become director of political, public and community relations for the St. Louis Electrical Connection, the association of union electrical contractors in the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and IBEW Local 1.
Like Green, Walsh will provide a much-needed voice for labor in the halls of the legislature.
“We look forward to Gina continuing to always champion the cause of the building trades as she has done throughout her career as a legislator,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council .
That Walsh is a legislator is critical, Aboussie said, for the influence and access she’ll be able to provide.
“That position has always been held by a legislator as long as I can remember,” he said. “That position of a legislator is critical because they have the ability to get into rooms and open doors that sometimes our people don’t have relationships with. When you have to talk about legislative issues and talk about initiatives and talk about infrastructure and funding mechanisms that promote jobs, that’s key.”
That’s especially true in this session, with right-to-work (for less), paycheck deception and anti-prevailing wage measures all winding their way through the General Assembly.
Walsh said her goal was to stop such measures, but also to ensure that the rights and interests of union members in both Missouri’s rural and metropolitan areas are protected.
“I understand that when I’m working on something like prevailing wage, what might be good for St. Louis and Kansas City, might completely annihilate the working men and women in the rural areas,” Walsh said. “We’ve got to keep everybody in mind and make sure it’s good for all of us. If we don’t, labor’s going to languish.”