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Lewis Reed V. Francis Slay: AFL-CIO Defends Mayor, But Says He Did Upset Some Employees

Thumbnail image for Bob Soutier image.jpg
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Bob Soutier of the AFL-CIO
Yesterday, we reported on a controversy pushed forward by Lewis Reed's mayoral campaign, regarding a new agreement form for city hires that critics say is a part of the most draconian, anti-employee policy in St. Louis history. The staff of Mayor Francis Slay -- who will face off against Reed in the upcoming March primary -- is arguing that his opponent is playing politics and misconstruing the facts here.

Still, in response to all the attention, Slay met with some labor leaders yesterday to discuss this controversial form in question. Daily RFT has since chatted with one of the attendees of the meeting, Bob Soutier, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Is his union satisfied with the mayor's response? And what is Reed's next move?

"He realizes that he may have upset some people," Soutier tells us. "But the mayor has always been good with us."

The AFL-CIO is supporting Slay in his re-election bid.

The document in question, on view below, is a "benefits acknowledgement form" that new city employees have been signing. The part causing controversy says that employees, by signing, are acknowledging that the city can:

modify, amend, reduce or terminate any of the various benefits provided...at any time during the course of employment, including but not limited to pension, health and disability benefits.

The Carpenters Union (backing Reed) and the Reed Campaign jumped on this document on Monday with a press conference slamming the mayor for intimidating employees and forcing them to sign a contract that effectively waives their rights to any benefits -- and union protection -- going forward.

Slay's team, however, says that there is no policy change here whatsoever and that the document exists just to clarify existing policy -- mainly that benefits of new employees are subject to change, which they say is standard practice.

"The meeting went very well," Soutier tells us. "A couple...unions were concerned with the wording.... But [Slay]...has agreed to have one of our lawyers involved in the drafting of the final language."

In response to the backlash, in addition to meeting with labor leaders, Slay has agreed to rework the language in this document so that it is not so harsh, as we reported yesterday.

Soutier says, "Our lawyers will be working with them...to create something that doesn't sound quite as drastic, something that people would be more comfortable with."

Continue for comments from the Lewis Reed campaign and for the full document.


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6 comments
robertj97
robertj97

  after  working  35  years  for  the  city  and  after  seeing  the  note  that  was  given  out  it  is  the  same  that  was  out  to  me  when  i  start  to  work  for  the  city  in  1971.  Also  city  of  do  not  have  contracts  with  the  unions  they  have  M O U S  and  means  can  be  changed  any  time .  But  Federal  has  the  authority  and  all  cases .

Showmegirl
Showmegirl

Actually, it is completely disingenuous of the Reed Campaign to try to paint Mayor Slay as anti-union.  Mayor Slay has a long history of being pro-worker and pro-union.  Mayor Slay is endorsed by not only the AFL-CIO, but SEIU, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, St. Louis City Labor Club, St. Louis Labor Council, the Ironworkers, Electrical Workers, UAW Region 5, AFSCME, UFCW 655, USW 11-6 and 9014, Teamsters Joint Council No.13, etc...The document in question is not a change in policy, simply a an acknowledgement that the employee understands the existing policy to avoid future misunderstanding.  Some people find it offensive, so it will be rewritten.  It is the Reed Camp's fear driven misinformation tactics that are reminiscent of certain Republican campaigns. 

johnson_wa
johnson_wa

How awkward for Mr. Soutier. The candidate you endorsed was exposed as the anti-worker pseudo-Republican that he is and you're faced with a difficult choice. Either recant your endorsement, which would've been the respectable thing to do, or help said candidate devise a face-saving meaculpa and hope the hypocracy isn't too glaring.

jfedorow
jfedorow

@Showmegirl Ma'am please read the memo.

This is clearly a rejection of collective bargaining.... a new policy for the city.

Showmegirl
Showmegirl

@jfedorow @Showmegirl  Sir, I read it several times...it is a new agreement but not a new policy.  It simply requires new employees to acknowledge that they understand the policy has already been in place.  It does not affect the collective bargaining rights of city employees at all.

jfedorow
jfedorow

@Showmegirl 

A) The memo states that this is a new policy.

B) "Unilateral changes in benefits"...  This means no input from employee groups... the very point of collective bargaining and an extension of the first amendment.

C) This policy is so ignorant they stopped implementation.

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