Bi-partisan political approach critical to working families’

The wisdom of the Missouri labor movement taking a bi-partisan approach to helping protect union members and their families – all workers – was highlighted at a recent meeting of UFCW Local 655 shop stewards.

Dave cook

“Are we going to let a handful of wing- nuts decide who is in charge of our state and country?”

Republican State Representa
tive Anne Zerr and Democratic Representative Jeff Roorda applauded the efforts of labor
 unions to help Missouri grow while lambasting the efforts of some of their colleagues for their anti-union stance
on issues.

“I’ve tried
 that working with Labor is good business,” Zerr told the some 100 shop stewards. “Positive labor-management relationships are good for business and trying to screw one another makes no sense.

She noted that over the years, when the economy is in difficult times, union workers have been willing to make major concessions to help their companies survive. “The unions get it.”

Zerr noted that the unions provide skilled labor, training workers that “do a great job.” As for her Republican colleagues, she said, “We need to help them understand labor, that you fight for decent wages and safe working conditions, which is something we all want. Too many people died in the past fighting for these issues; people need to understand that.”

She urged Local 655 and all of the labor movement to continue to work with – and educate –Republicans about the value of a strong labor movement, not only for their members, but also for everyone who works for a living.

“Some of my colleagues don’t get it,” she added, “They think that getting rid of unions will improve Missouri’s economy. That’s just wrong. We need to be offering incentives to get people back to work, that’s how we improve our economy.”

Noting that she was a utility worker member of Laborers Local 110, and her husband is a hod carrier member of Laborers Local 660, she made the point: “We raised our kids on union wages, and did it without a college education. I was happy to have someone there to negotiate for me, to stand with us when it was needed.”

anne zerr

“Do we want to end up like Alabama?!” -Rep. Anne Zerr (R) talking about right-to-work (for less) legislation

As for the anti-worker right-to-work for less, Zerr said that it “is not good for Missouri. Wages will go down. Do we want to be like Alabama?!”

LET THE ‘WINGNUTS’ CONTROL US?

Speaking from the Democrat’s view, State Representative Jeff Roorda, introduced by Cook as a “man who has our back,” said that it’s up to workers, all Missourians, to make a clear decision: “Are we going to let a handful of wing- nuts decide who is in charge of our state and country?”

“We need to create a turnaround” and change the composition of the Missouri Legislature if working Missourians want a climate that creates jobs and economic growth.

He pointed out that while there are some Republicans who understand and support working people and unions because it’s the smart thing to do, others “say” they are pro-labor but then turn on workers after being elected.

Senator John Lamping (R-Ladue),
“a wolf
in sheep’s clothing” who said he was pro-worker in his campaign, and widely touted that concept when elected with Labor’s support, “kicked sand in your face.” Lamping has voted for almost every anti-worker proposal in the legislature.

Representative Paul Wieland (R-House Springs), who boasted of being pro-labor, when two local unions did not support him, he told the presidents of those unions he wished he could single out their members for retribution.

roorda

“Your fights are my fights” -Rep. Jeff Roorda and candidate for 22nd district State Senate speaking about labor union issues.

Local 655’s Cook confirmed that threat: “We were one of the unions that had a conservation with him. We went to Rep. Wieland to talk about working together in the future and his words were, ‘If I could screw Local 655’s members, I would.’”

“When these anti-worker Republicans talk about a ‘friendly business climate those are code words for busting unions,” Roorda said bluntly.

KEY RACES TO SUPPORT

In no uncertain words, Roorda urged the shop stewards to get involved in their local political races to ensure worker-friendly candidates are elected. Some of those key races that can impact the Missouri Senate and get worker- friendly supporters are:

State Representative Jill Schupp (D- Creve Coeur), running for the Senate seat now occupied by Republican John Lamping

State Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Jefferson County) running for the term-limited friend of labor, Senator Ryan McKenna (D- Crystal City).

State Representative Ed Schieffer (D-St. Charles), running for
 the Senate
 seat now 
occupied
 by Senator
 Scott Rupp.

“Your
 fights are
 my fights.
 When I believe in a cause, I put my heart and soul into it. And I believe in what you stand for,” Roorda said to wild applause.

Roorda is the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association Lodge 58.

 

 

 

 

 

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Local 655 Proudly Supports Faces of Our Children

The entire labor community is invited to a community Bar-B-Que fundraiser this Saturday, Aug. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to raise funds for Sickle Cell research, a disease that currently has no cure and effects one in every twelve African Americans.

The Bar-B-Que will be held at the Schnucks City Plaza, 3431 Union and will feature rib tips, burgers, hotdogs, attendance prizes and more. Additionally, the NAACP will have a voter registration booth to register residents.

All proceeds will go to Faces of Our Children, an organization dedicated to raising awareness, support, research and funding for the fight against sickle cell disease worldwide.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Sickle Cell Committee of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 655 in cooperation with Schnucks Markets and Holten Meats who are providing products for the event; eight other community organizations are serving as co-sponsors.

This is the third Sickle Cell fund raiser sponsored by Local 655.

“We invite everyone of our union brothers and sisters to join with us to raise funds for this critical effort,” said David Cook, UFCW Local 655 president, the event’s main co-sponsor.

Other co-sponsors are the NAACP (city and county chapters), the Urban League, 100 Black Men, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Organization for Black Struggle, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Missouri Health Care For All and the law firm of Hammond & Shinners.

A number of religious organizations in the community are partnering with Local 655 to spread the word in to their congregations to support the fundraiser. To date, they include: New Horizon 7th day Christian Church, Mount Airy MB Baptist Church, The Ahmadiyya Community, River of Life Christian Ministries, New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church, Lane Tabernacle CME Church, New Sunny Mount Missionary Baptist Church, Northern Missionary Baptist Church, the Ethical Society of St. Louis and the United Way.

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Stewards to Assume Greater Role in Helping Grow UFCW Local 655

Annual Shop Stewards meeting sees largest turnout of political leaders

Burns.Roorda2574

HEARING stewards’ concerns, State Reps. Bob Burns (standing) and Jeff Roorda (seated) listen as stewards make key points about pending legislation. Roorda will be running for the Missouri Senate next year. — Labor Tribune photo

As soon as current food contract negotiations are over, Local 655 will do a major reallocation of our internal resources in an effort to enhance the lives of our members and their families over the long term, President David Cook reported to almost 200 shop stewards attending the annual All Stewards meeting at the union hall.

To make that reallocation work will take a renewed effort and extended engagement by our union’s shop stewards, President Cook said, reiterating the union’s #1 goal: obtain the best possible contracts to provide our current members and families with a high quality of life as well as our members of the future.

Contract negotiations are going slowly, Cook said, because of the health care issue. He criticized the Obama Administration for postponing implementation for a year a key component of the new Health Care Act, requiring large employers to provide health care or face major fines.

“That means we are subsidizing Walmart,” one of the stewards said, with President Cook adding, “That’s absolutely right…you and your employers are helping pay the health care costs of Walmart employees who, in the majority, have no health insurance, go to the emergency rooms and that cost gets passed off to us in terms of higher insurance premiums.”

He added that the new law is already working because premium increases which used to be double digit year are not two and three percent. While we support the new law, it needs revisions, he added.

The largest turnout of political leaders yet attending a stewards meeting, both Democrats and Republicans, were on hand to meet and talk with our stewards. President Cook said that if it were not for a number of right-thinking Republicans, and certainly our Democratic friends, we’d have the phony, anti-worker right-to-work (for less) law in Missouri today.

Schupp.2577

URGING Rep. Jill Schupp (at left) to run for the Missouri senate next year, Local
655 shop stewards know that Schupp has always been a voice for working
Missourians and will stand with us in our fights in Jefferson City. — Labor Tribune photo

Referring to the just-completed session of the Missouri Legislature where major anti-worker attempts were batted down, President Cook warned that “It’s not over yet,” noting that a veto session will come up soon and everyone will have to work hard to sustain Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes of the bad laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

To fulfill the “Union Proud” direction of Local 655, President Cook said it hinges on three concepts:

• Better communication with member and the public. He urged the stewards to take the union’s message to both audiences to help grow the union, which will help protect and improve the contracts we now have.

• Re-allocation of the union staff’s time to strengthen our organizing efforts to grow the union and enhance our political involvement to protect workers’ rights and contracts. He pointed out that to do this will take a renewed commitment from shop stewards to serve as the union’s representative in the work place.

• Build partnerships throughout the community and the politicians, both “right-thinking” Democrats and Republicans, to enhance the effectiveness of the union’s efforts. He noted Local 655’s recent involvement in the Gay Pride celebration and the immigration rally as two key examples of Local 655’s outreach to support groups who in turn will be our allies in our fights for workers’ rights.

“We need partnerships if we’re going to build a better America, a better St. Louis, a better union, as a counterbalance to the massive corporate greed that’s taken ahold of our nation,” President Cook stressed.

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Supporters of Immigration Reform Rally in Forest Park

immigration rally

Our members handing out water at the rally to push for Immigration Refom

More than 500 people turned out in support of immigration reform Sunday at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park-and UFCW Local 655 was there helping to keep participants hydrated with free bottled water.

“As strong advocates of immigration reform and considering our diverse membership, it was important for us to show our support,” Secretary-Treasurer Dave Politte said.

One keynote speaker, Bob Soutier, president of the St. Louis Labor Council, said if immigration Supporters of Immigration Reform rally in Forest Park Local 655’s ‘Rainbow Connection’ reform passes, it will be the biggest decision of our generation.

The measure calls for pathways to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States. It also potentially provides for a 13-year path to citizenship, a 10-year process for workers to receive a green card, a new visa program and new border security measures.

The bill is spearheaded by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” comprised of senators from both sides of the aisle.

Visit our Facebook Page to view event photos…

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