Dooley and Organized Labor Drifting Apart
ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Some local union leaders tell St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley he’s officially on the outs with organized labor.
“We told him that support for his re-election effort doesn’t appear to be there at this particular time,” said Bob Soutier, President of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO.
Also in the meeting was Earline Jones of the Communication Workers of America and Jeff Abousie, Secretary Treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council.
“We just feel that we have fundamental differences with the County Executive in his relationship with organized labor,” Abousie said, “We’re choosing to do something different, and we’re not going to be supporting him.”
Soutier says a majority of the Labor Council’s executive board voted Monday morning to send a delegation informing Dooley of its withdrawal of support. Prompting the vote, Soutier says, was a feeling that labor unions have been under-represented on various county boards and that more county contracts are going to non-union contractors. The uproar began in August when Dooley nominated Republican Dave Spence to serve on the police board.
In recent weeks the Carpenters Union made a similar announcement that it would not support Dooley’s plans for re-election. Carpenters Union President Terry Nelson said the ongoing FBI investigation into contracts on the police board made Dooley’s credibility “tarnished beyond repair.”
With the primary almost a full year away, Soutier was asked if it’s possible for Dooley to regain the support of organized labor.
“I would never say never,” Soutier said, “There certainly could be a reconciliation, but at this point, I don’t see it happening,” Soutier said.
Abousie was asked the same question.
“I think it would be highly unlikely that there would be a change of heart at this time,” Abousie said.
Dooley is expected to face opposition in the Democratic primary, although no candidate has formally stepped forward.
Dooley’s office released a statement in response to the story:
“Labor has had no better friend than Charlie A. Dooley. Nobody agrees on anything 100 percent of the time but I will put my record of support for labor up against anyone’s. I am proud of my long history with labor and this won’t change that.
”I will not be deterred from doing the things I’ve been doing to create jobs and economic opportunity for the thousands of working men and women who represent the union membership.
”St. Louis County is recovering from a devastating recession and I will continue to do my best to make sure members of labor get back to work and are stronger than ever.
”We have more than $1 billion construction projects slated to get underway this year with more business expansion and job creation ready to launch over the next two years. Our labor community will benefit from our efforts to create those opportunities. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I will continue to do.”