Aug. 16--Art Martin, who died Saturday (Aug. 11, 2012) at age 64, was a nationally known labor lawyer, who often represented low-paid employees working in health care. He lived in University City.
As a young man, he was a union factory worker. He became a union organizer before deciding he could win more fights as a lawyer.
Last year, he was the only witness to testify for unions before a Republican-dominated U.S. House committee investigating whether labor laws are unfair to business.
Arthur Joseph Martin died Saturday after a morning bicycle trip near Fredericktown, Mo., with his wife, Janine Martin, also a labor attorney. Doctors later found that he had suffered a heart attack, she said Wednesday.
Mr. Martin was one of the relatively few labor lawyers here or elsewhere who represent workers.
"Unions simply cannot pay that kind of hourly rate," said Mike Wolff, a professor at St. Louis University School of Law.
Mr. Martin, who graduated from the law school in 1984, was a research assistant for Wolff.
"Art could have chosen to work at any corporate firm or in any field, but he chose the career he wanted because of his lifelong commitment to worker rights and the underdog," said Wolff, a former judge on the Missouri Supreme Court.
Mr. Martin was the eldest of seven children, whose parents owned a small insurance business in Greenville, Ill. After graduating from Quincy College in 1969, he joined VISTA and worked in native American communities in Nebraska.
After that, he did factory work in Greenville, joined a union and became a shop steward. He worked as a labor organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union, AFL-CIO.
He left that work for law school in St. Louis. He clerked for the late 8th Circuit Judge Theodore McMillian and the late U.S. District Judge William Hungate.
He was in his mid-30s when he became a lawyer and joined Schucat, Cook & Werner, which represents unions.
After Chris Schildroth was fired by a St. Louis firm, he hired Mr. Martin, who won an arbitration that got Schildroth his job back.
"Art impressed me with his zealous and passionate representation of the working man," Schildroth said.
In 2008, Missouri voters approved a ballot issue permitting low-wage home care workers paid with state funds to engage in collective bargaining. Mr. Martin won the case before the Court of Appeals after industry representatives challenged the vote.
The case is pending before the state Supreme Court.
Mr. Martin won a 2005 case in federal court against Anheuser-Busch Cos., which he accused of violating federal labor law by using hidden cameras to spy on employees.
The case affirmed the long-standing rule that employers must bargain with unions over changes in working conditions, in this case the hidden cameras.
But the National Labor Relations Board later said the company could still fire the employees, who were caught on camera sleeping, leaving their posts or smoking marijuana.
Mr. Martin said that was an example of how the NLRB often doesn't favor unions.
He repeated that message in testimony last September before the House Education and Workforce Committee.
It was investigating the NLRB for what its Republican members called a "culture of union favoritism."
Mr. Martin was the sole Democratic witness, according to Craig Becker, general counsel of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Martin used his own experience to rebut claims that the NLRB hamstrings business and costs jobs.
Rep. George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat, this week called Mr. Martin "a real champion for working people."
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Friday at Lupton Chapel, 7233 Delmar Boulevard, University City. A funeral Mass will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Christ the King Catholic Church, 7324 Balson Avenue, University City. The body will be cremated.
Survivors, in addition to his wife of 18 years, include two daughters, Alexia Cheek of St. Louis and Ariel Roukaerts of Cornwall, England; two sons, Joe Martin and Frankie Martin, both at home; four brothers, Lawrence Martin of Greenville, James Martin of Minneapolis, Anthony Martin of St. Charles and John Martin of St. Louis County; two sisters, Molly Martin of St. Louis County and Mary Helen Anderson of Edwardsville; and one granddaughter.
(c)2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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