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.
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.”
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.
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.