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Missouri AFL-CIO picks Jake Hummel as next president


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Former state Sen. Jake Hummel was unanimously elected to lead the Missouri AFL-CIO as its next president Tuesday. 

Hummel, the labor union’s secretary-treasurer, will replace Mike Louis after he retires on June 30. 

“We’re going to continue to try to elevate the lives of our members,” Hummel told The Missouri Times. “That’s our goal: to make sure that we’re protecting the interests [and] livelihoods of our union members and to promote organizing workers on all levels.” 

Along with Hummel, Merri Berry was elected Tuesday to serve as the next secretary-treasurer.

“Together, Jake and Merri are ready to lead labor into an exciting new chapter,” Kansas City Labor Council President Pat Dujakovich said in a statement. “We have a lot of challenges in Missouri, but Hummel and Berry are up to the task. I am confident that with their leadership, the Missouri AFL-CIO will continue to be a strong voice for working families in our state.” 

And St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White said: “Hummel and Berry will represent all working men and women with class and integrity.” 

An electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local One, Hummel is a former state senator and Democratic floor leader in the House. He also helped start a labor club in the city of St. Louis in 2008.

During his time in the legislature, Hummel said he learned the importance of cultivating relationships — a tool he plans to continue to utilize as the Missouri AFL-CIO’s president. 

“I’ve learned so many things can be worked out by having a conversation,” Hummel said. 

Hummel has served as the secretary-treasurer for the state’s labor union since 2014. He was integral in the effort to defeat Prop A, a “right-to-work” initiative, in 2018, something he is “extraordinarily proud” of — although he says Louis deserves the “lion’s share of the credit.” 

Louis is retiring from the helm of the Missouri AFL-CIO on June 30 after having served in that position since 2014. Louis, too, worked to defeat Prop A and grew membership by 46,000 members in 2019, the Missouri AFL-CIO said. 

“President Louis has been a true advocate for Missouri labor,” Hummel said. “While he’s earned his retirement, he’ll be greatly missed.” 

Aside from Hummel and Berry, Reggie Thomas will continue to serve as the Missouri AFL-CIO’s vice president — making up the three elected offices of the labor union. Berry, who is the political director for the Missouri AFL-CIO, is the first woman to be elected to a state-level officer position in the organization’s history.