April 20, 2014

New state labor director hopes to promote respect (AUDIO)

The new director of the state Department of Labor is taking over an agency  facing a discrimination complaint from one of its former division directors and allegations that one of his predecessors created a negative and hostile work environment.

Governor Nixon has appointed now-former state senator Ryan McKenna to head the department.  McKenna’s has moved from managing an office staff of two to an agency with about one-thousand employees.  One of the divisions of the department, the Human Rights Commission, is handling a wrongful-dismissal complaint from the ousted director of another division–Employment Security. 

McKenna says he’s going to take things slowly, show an interest in what his people do, and let them know he respects their work. “The temperament that I think I’ve brought…I want to bring that over to this department and show people that you will be treated with respect,” he says.

McKenna is young for a department director; he’s 40.  But he comes from a family of public servants. His grandfather and his father both served in the legislature.  McKanna  had served eight years in the House and seven in the Senate, which will have to confirm him in his new position. He would have been term-limited out of the General Assembly after the 2014 session.

AUDIO: McKenna interview 13:13