St. Louis Port Council honors Labor, business leaders
By TIM ROWDEN
Chesterfield, MO – “We are at a time where Organized Labor finds ourselves in a position that we have not been in for a very, very long time,” State Senator Jake Hummel, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said at the St. Louis Port Council Golf Tournament and Awards dinner at The Landings at Spirit Golf Club. “We are coming off a monumental victory, and it’s up to us to decide where we go from here.”
A member of IBEW Local 1, Hummel was, of course, referring to the historic defeat of Proposition A (“right-to-work”) in the Aug. 7 election. “‘Right-to-work’ has never been defeated anywhere in this country at the ballot box except here in Missouri 40 years ago,” Hummel said, referring to the 1978 RTW vote. “The Labor Movement has been focused on Missouri like never before, but it’s up to us to capitalize on it.
“We have 67 percent of the electorate in this state that voted to support us and our right to collectively bargain and we have to go out there and start organizing people. Because workers in this country and this state especially have seen the value in what union membership means to them and raising wages and raising a higher standard of living. We owe it to them to go out and organize the unorganized and make sure that we start growing our numbers instead of relying on what we have.
“The wind is at our backs,” Hummel said. “Union membership is on the rise. We organized over 250,000 new union members across the country last year. We’re on the up. We are at a 25-year high in approval of union membership, of unions in general, whether you’re in a union or not. This is our time.
“We won a fight that nobody has won for 40 years, and everybody in this room deserves a round of applause,” Hummel said. “Now we’ve got to take the fight back out there on the streets.”
Hummel received the Port Council’s Able Helmsman Award at the Sept. 7 awards dinner, a fundraiser for the Port Council’s PAC.
“The Able Helmsman isn’t the guy in charge of the ship,” said Dan Duncan, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Maritime Trades Department who traveled to St. Louis to present the award. “The Able Helmsman makes sure the ship steers a true course, and that is what Jake Hummel did with Proposition A that let you guys come out as winners.”
LABOR MAN OF THE YEAR
The Able Helmsman isn’t the captain, Duncan said. The captain in the Prop A fight was Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis (Machinists District 9), who received the 2018 Dick Mantia Labor Man of the Year award.
Hummel said it was Louis who, shortly after being elected president of the Federation in 2014, had the foresight to recognize the majority shift coming to the Missouri Legislature that would allow passage of “right-to-work” legislation and began organizing to defeat it.
“Mike knew we were going to have this fight eventually and that it was going to be before us in a few years,” Hummel said. “And he worked hard for four years to put us in a position where we spent money where we were supposed to on messaging and making sure that we had an internal organization ready for this fight when it did happen.
“I will tell you right now, no matter what all of us did in this room for Proposition A, we wouldn’t have beat it if it wasn’t for Mike having that foresight,” Hummel said.
“Mike, thank you from all of us, because we would not be in this position were it not for you.”
Louis was brief and gracious in his remarks.
“Defeating RTW was not about Mike Louis. Defeating RTW was about the staff that I had working here” – Hummel and the staff in the Prop A fight – AFL-CIO senior field representatives Ryan Burke, who led the We Are MO campaign; Luke Canfora, who led the national AFL-CIO plan; Missouri AFL-CIO Political Director Merri Berry and Louis’ own Chief of Staff Julie Dominique.
“It was a long, hard fight, but they were incredible,” Louis said.
“And to my partner, Jake Hummel, ‘Thank you.’”
Louis also thanked his family, his wife Susan and their family of five children and 13 grandchildren.
“There are a lot of union leaders in this room,” Louis said, fighting back emotion. “And you know that your family puts up with a lot because you’re gone all the time. Especially to my wife, ‘Thank you.’”
Jeremy Deutsch, president of Standard Machine & Manufacturing, received the Management Man of the Year Award.
Founded in 1940, Standard Machine has historically worked closely with Machinists District 9’s leadership, knowing the value the union provides to the company and its employees, most recently in the development of an apprenticeship program.
The award was accepted on Deutsch’s behalf by Standard Machine’s Production Manager David Yuill.
“On behalf of Jeremy Deutsch and Standard Machine & Manufacturing, I’d like to thank you for this award,” Yuill said. “I’d also like to recognize Machinists Dist. 9 Business Representative Kevin Broemmer and Missouri AFL-CIO Apprentice Coordinator Pat Dolan for helping us start our apprenticeship program, which is allowing our employees to get the skills and training they need to be successful in the machinists’ field and allowing Standard Machine to be more competitive. It’s a true joint venture between the AFL-CIO, District 9 and Standard Machine.”