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July 2020

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St. Louis Member, Former Lawmaker
is New Head of Missouri AFL-CIO

Jake Hummel has been a longtime successful advocate for Missouri's working people, so it came as no surprise when he was asked to assume the top post in the state's labor movement.

A former legislator and key figure in the fight that squashed a proposed Missouri right-to-work law, the St. Louis Local 1 member and journeyman inside wireman took over as president of the Missouri AFL-CIO on July 1 following the retirement of current president Mike Louis. Hummel has served as the group's secretary-treasurer since 2014.

"This is something of a natural progression but I'm really pleased by the confidence shown by our executive board," he said. "I was approved unanimously and I truly appreciate that."

Hummel served nearly 10 years in the state Legislature and joined with his Democratic colleagues and a handful of Republican members to fight proposed right-to-work legislation. But they were overwhelmed after the GOP won the governor's office and huge majorities in the House and Senate during the 2016 election. A right-to-work law was passed and signed soon after the Legislature began its 2017 session.

The battle was far from over, however. The Missouri constitution allows for a referendum on statewide legislation if approximately 100,000 voters across the state's eight congressional districts sign a petition requesting one. Opponents of the right-to-work law gathered more than three times that, setting up an election in August 2018.

By a 2-1 margin, voters said "no" to Proposition A, which repealed the law passed by the Legislature.

"I was so impressed by Jake when I joined him and other friends knocking on doors for the right-to-work referendum, asking voters to side with working families," International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. "He not only has a passion for the IBEW and the rest of the labor movement but also knows how to build alliances and get things done. He's well-suited for this new responsibility and I'm thrilled for him and all our brothers and sisters in Missouri."

Hummel noted Missouri also has not done away with prevailing wage laws or successfully implemented so-called paycheck protection laws — two other favorite targets in GOP-dominated states. The percentage of Missouri workers belonging to a union also has increased during the last two years.

Prevailing wage laws, commonly called Davis-Bacon laws on the federal level, guarantee workers a higher wage on projects receiving public financing. Paycheck protection laws, on the other hand, are an attempt to weaken unions by requiring workers to re-sign cards to verify their membership more often, usually on an annual basis.

"When we beat right-to-work, we had a majority of both Republican and Democratic voters come out and vote with us," Hummel said. "I think that when you put an individual issue before the people, the party lines fade away. When you can show them how something affects the bottom line for them and their families, they start to think about things a little differently."

Hummel, 44, was first elected to the state House in 2008 and served four terms, rising to the rank of floor leader. In 2016, he won a special election to finish out the term of a state senator who had resigned in a district that includes parts of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

Despite the success in helping to beat back right-to-work, Hummel was defeated in the Democratic primary for the seat in 2018. He stayed active in state affairs, however, through his work with the AFL-CIO.

"I wanted to stay in Jefferson City [the state capital] and stay active in politics and keep working for working people," he said.

A top priority for him and others at the state AFL-CIO is convincing Missouri voters — and even some union voters — who are against issues like right-to-work not to vote for politicians who consistently support them.

Even after the referendum vote, some state legislators said they would like to pass the legislation again. Missouri used to be a swing state on the national level with Democrats controlling the state lawmaking bodies, but that has changed significantly in the last two decades. The GOP has supermajorities in both the state House and Senate and controls all the statewide offices except one.

"That is a problem nationally for the entire labor movement," Hummel said. "Workers are with us on the issues. We have to find a way to connect them with the people that support us. That's been a struggle."

Eleventh District Vice President Mark Hager also congratulated Hummel on his appointment.

"Local 1 is so well respected throughout Missouri that it's fitting someone of Jake's ability and character has this position," Hager said. "He and others have shown we can win even in a state where the odds are stacked against us. I'm just so proud of him and join with all our members in wishing him the best."


St. Louis Local 1 member Jake Hummel, new president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

IBEW, AFL-CIO Announce Earth Day Initiative
to Plot Future of the Energy Industry

The IBEW and the AFL-CIO in April announced an innovative partnership with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz aimed at protecting jobs while moving the U.S. toward a carbon-free energy future.

The arrangement, called the Labor Energy Partnership, will bring together Moniz's Energy Futures Initiatives with the AFL-CIO's more than 12.5 million working men and women to develop policy proposals for a 21st century energy system that creates and preserves quality jobs while addressing the climate crisis.

"As the vice-chair of the AFL-CIO's Energy Committee, I'm thrilled to be a part of this new effort to find solutions to one of the greatest challenges of our time," said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.

"At the IBEW, we represent tens of thousands of members who depend on low-carbon natural gas and zero-carbon nuclear energy, and Secretary Moniz understands that climate solutions that don't take into account the jobs and communities that depend on those fuel sources are unrealistic and shortsighted."

Announced on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the initiative will focus on "all of the above" energy solutions that make preserving jobs its guiding principle.

"The energy sector is a key driver of the American economy, providing good jobs across a wide range of technologies," said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in announcing the LEP. "As we look at how to return to work safely and begin to recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, one of our most important responses should be significant federal support for high-quality energy jobs."

The partnership will focus on the future of energy issues, including but not limited to: offshore wind; carbon-capture and sequestration; the viability of existing nuclear generation and the rollout of next-generation nuclear; hurdles to new electricity transmission projects; the expansion of energy efficiency technologies; the production of minerals and materials necessary for domestic production of low-carbon technologies, including rare earths and other essential minerals; and a roadmap for implementing carbon dioxide removal at scale.

"The IBEW has always been a leader in the energy industry, and this initiative, together with Secretary Moniz and our sisters and brothers at the AFL-CIO, will help to ensure that we remain leaders in our industry for many years to come," Stephenson said. "We're proud to be a part of it and look forward to contributing to solutions that preserve and create jobs while protecting our planet for our kids and future generations."


Wind power will be a key component of the 21st Century energy portfolio, but a new partnership between the IBEW, the AFL-CIO and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will explore ways to preserve quality jobs in nuclear and natural gas while working toward a zero-carbon energy future.