The St. Paul Regional Labor Federation will have new leadership in the coming new year.

After a decade in office, RLF President Bobby Kasper will retire at the end of December, a decision he made official at the federation’s delegate meeting Dec. 11. Kasper, a “proud” member of LIUNA Laborers Local 563, has served as RLF president since October 2009.

Delegates unanimously elected RLF Political Director Kera Peterson to succeed Kasper as president. She will be sworn into a four-year term in January.

“I want to thank our federation’s delegates for their trust and confidence in electing me to represent them and their powerful unions,” Peterson said. “We’ve accomplished a lot together over the years, but there’s still much to do. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves with all of you.”

Kasper began his union career in New York, where he was a member of Laborers Local 66, Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and UNITE HERE’s New York affiliate. After moving to Minnesota, he joined St. Paul-based Laborers Local 132.

Kasper worked as the local’s business agent before running for president of the St. Paul RLF. Previously, he served as secretary-treasurer of the RLF’s forerunner, the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly, and he has been secretary-treasurer of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council for 15 years.

“In the last 11 years, we’ve grown the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation by building new relationships with unions in our area, and our local labor movement is stronger and more unified as a result,” Kasper said. “We’ve set a high bar for ourselves when it comes building power for working people, whether it’s at the Capitol or at the bargaining table.

“Kera’s leadership has been a big part of that success, and I know she will only set the bar higher in the future.”

Peterson is a member of Machinists Local Lodge 459, and she has been on the RLF political staff since 2008. Previously, she served as an AFL-CIO Community Services liaison with the St. Paul RLF’s nonprofit organization, the St. Paul Labor Studies and Resource Center, and with the St. Croix Valley Central Labor Council.

Peterson signed her first union card in 1997, when she took a job as a living-skills instructor at a mental-health facility at a Minneapolis, joining SEIU Local 113 (now SEIU Healthcare Minnesota).

She currently serves as vice president of her local lodge, vice president of Machinists District Council 77 and second vice president of the State Council of Machinists.

During her time on staff with the St. Paul RLF, Peterson has worked closely with labor assemblies in Chisago, Ramsey and Washington counties, helping establish local support for labor campaigns in those areas. She has directed efforts to elect more labor-endorsed candidates in the east metro’s swing legislative districts. And she has represented the federation in coalitions working to raise the statewide minimum wage and establish new local labor standards in St. Paul.

The St. Paul RLF unites over 100 affiliate unions. Together, they represent more than 50,000 people who live or work in Chisago, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties. The federation is part of the nation’s largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO.

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