With its latest $5 for the Fight donation of $20,000, Laborers Local 110 goes to the head of the class in terms of contributions to help out-of-work union brothers and sisters. To date, Local 110 members and retirees have donated $45,000 over the past two years, $5,000 of that from the Retirees Club.
Close behind are two unions that make automatic deductions for the Fight Fund: Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 ($9,771 plus another $9,771 to the American Red Cross disaster fund and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 ($31,055).
The current total was enhanced substantially with two other major contributions from two firms: $25,000 from the Simmons Law Firm that used their contribution as a matching grant challenge that raised a matching $27,000 from donors and $5,000 from Coventry Health Care, one of the major health care providers for union health and welfare funds.
“We’re a union, that’s what we do, helping members, one another and the community,” said Don Willey, Local 110 business manager. “We’re fortunate enough to have the assets to help our members and our brothers and sisters who are really in need.”
He added: “That need hasn’t lessened in the last few years, so we’ll continue to help as long as we have the funds to do so. Our members are fully supportive of the effort.”
As of press time, a total of $74,100 remained in the Fund, “And every bit is needed because the demand for help is growing,” said Roz Sherman-Voellinger, the United Way’s vice president, Labor Participation and AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison. The United Way reviews all requests for aid sent to it by the St. Louis Labor Council.”
Currently there are 20 pending requests for financial help.
If you are a union member who has come on hard times, you can turn to your St. Louis Labor Movement for help. Keep in mind all services are confidential. Here’s how to get the help you need.
• Step 1– contact you local union who will verify your membership.
• Step 2 – your local will pass on the information to the Labor Council who then submits it to the United Way where requests are processed based on long-standing established criteria.
• Step 3 – once the request is approved, the Labor Council disperses the funds. No money goes directly to an individual member, but rather pays medical, medicine, rent, electricity, etc. bills directly.
In addition to the “$5 for the Fight” funds, the United Way has set aside some monies to help as well. Plus, the United Way can make referrals to other agencies where specific kinds of help and services are available at no cost.
HAS IT HELPED?
“More than you ever realize,” Sherman-Voellinger told the Labor Tribune, recounting recent telephone calls she receives (no names provided as that information is confidential):
• Construction worker: unemployment insurance was about to run out at the end of the month and was one day from having the electric shut off. “He called a number of agencies and couldn’t get help. He turned to the Fight Fund and we were able to pay that bill,” Sherman-Voellinger said.
The construction worker called back after the payment: “If I could just reach over the phone and give you a hug and a kiss, I would.”
• Warehouse worker: out of work because of an injury was about to lose their car. The Fight Fund was able to make that car payment.
“This is such a miracle. I’m so overwhelmed. This is the best news I’ve had in many months. I feel like I’ve been fighting for everything for so long. This is a blessing,” he said, his voice cracking.
• Construction worker: was laid off for over two years, no longer eligible for unemployment insurance, grudgingly took food stamps, was struggling to just keep his house. The Fund was able to help with a partial mortgage payment.
“Just saying you’re going to help me with this has just made my day.”
$$ STILL NEEDED
To date this year, the Fight Fund has raised $92,605 and paid out $60,203 (plus another $15,000 from other sources like the Sheet Metal Workers 36 and Plumbers and Pipefitters donations)to help some 244 union families.
The need continues. You can help, and every little bit counts. There are three ways to donate:
1) Direct contribution – send a check or money order (no cash please), payable to “$5 for the Fight” and mailed to: $5 for the Fight, c/o St. Louis Labor Council, 3301 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044. Be sure to include your union affiliation.
2) On line – go to www.labortribune.com, click “$5 for the Fight Donations” to go to a secure donations page.
3) Automatic continuing deduction from your credit card: go to www.labortribune.com, click “$5 for the Fight Donations” to go to a secure donations page, check the “Automatic monthly deduction” and amount. Each month your designated donation will automatically be deducted from your credit card.
Remember that 100 percent of your donation goes into the “Fight Fund.” All efforts to promote and service the Fight Fund are donated by the Labor Council, the United Way and the Labor Tribune.
CATEGORIES OF GIVING
• Apprentice – $1 to $12/ George Washington Honor Roll
• Journeyman – $13-50/Andrew Jackson Honor Roll
• Steward – $51-$99/ Ulysses S. Grant Honor Roll
• Chief Steward – $100 +/Ben Franklin Honor Roll
• In Memoriam – to honor a loved one or friend or fellow union member.
The Fight Honor Roll is published the first week of each month in the Labor Tribune to acknowledge the kindness and generosity of donors.
Since the $5 for the Labor Council’s Fight Fund was launched in 1996, through 2011, St. Louis workers, unions, companies and friends have donated $614,028.33 to help their brothers and sisters in need.
The original $5 for the Fight campaign was launched in 1996 to support striking Machinists District 837 members at McDonnell Douglas. That campaign raised $160,257.96. When the economy went sour in 2008, the Labor Council’s executive board decided to use what was left to support members and their families who had lost their jobs and were on rough times. Another $453,770.37 was raised after the District 837 campaign, bringing the campaign’s total to $614,028 at the end of 2011.
SHARE YOUR STORY
If you’ve been helped through the $5 for the Fight Fund, the Labor Tribune wants to share your story – anonymously, if you prefer – with our readers who:
• Are experiencing similar hardships and need help but may be too proud to ask, or
• From reader who are wondering whether they should continue to contribute more to the Fund. Donors need to know that their dollars are going to really help.
To share your story, contact Tim Rowden at the Labor Tribune at 314-535-9660 ext. 138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your contact information to Labor Tribune, 505 S. Ewing, St. Louis, MO 63103 and someone will be in touch.