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St. Louis labor leader ‘honored’ to represent wide range of workers

  

Pat White is ready to bring people together this weekend. 

A former Spire employee, White is the president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council — part of the AFL-CIO — and represents about 85,000 union members from St. Charles to south of Jefferson County. 

“I love my job, and every day I get up, and it’s an honor for me to represent anybody from teachers to firemen to policemen to our linemen going to Florida to help with the hurricane,” White told The Missouri Times. “All the men and women out there every day who are working, I feel very honored to be able to get up and represent them.” 

Pat White, Greater St. Louis Labor Council president

White has led the council for five years and views his work with unions and the upcoming parade in St. Louis as a family affair. In fact, the parade is something he’s been involved with his whole life thanks to his late father, also a union member. 

“I’ve been coming to [the parades] since I was a kid. Even after I was an adult and got a job and belonged to a union, I knew my dad would be down here with his union,” White said. “You’ve got different folks in different trades who go downtown; they may not see each other on the job, but they see each other on Labor Day.” 

The parade gives workers a chance to show solidarity with one another, spend time with friends and family, and shake the hands of elected officials, such as the mayor. 

“It’s a way for our folks to sit back and say, ‘This day is because of our organization — not just my organization, but the organization as a whole,’” he said. 

Before leading the Greater St. Louis Labor Council as its president, White served on the executive board. But when it came time to find a new president, his family ties to unions and his sweeping knowledge of politics in Jefferson City made him the candidate of choice. 

And White says he is proud to represent workers in Missouri, especially after voters rejected a law last year that would have barred compulsory union fees. 

“In Missouri, we’ve actually bucked the trend. Last year, we actually gained membership … where the rest of the country, they’re actually losing [members],” he said. 

Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) Director Ann Hui was in Springfield Friday to celebrate the holiday with Holloway America plant workers. 

“As we celebrate Labor Day, it is a time to reflect on the progress that has been made in both protecting and investing in our workers,” Hui said in a statement. “Today, companies like Holloway America represent the best of Missouri, not only for producing products for which their workers should be justifiably proud, but also for their commitment to their workers.”