$5 for the Fight at Christmas 2018: A ‘good news, bad news’ story

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THE BAD NEWS

Despite the great work of our unions individually, the $5 for the Fight Fund and the United Way support, the needs of out-of-work union families is still great. As of Dec. 11, the Fight Fund only had $19,672 remaining while the United Way, which administers the fund, still had more than 20 requests for help that were being reviewed, with more coming in daily.

As of Dec. 11, the $5 for the Fight Fund and the United Way Labor Assistance Fund have helped 468 union families from 44 different unions, distributing $80,662 in emergency assistance. But the need continues.

Some recent pleas for help:

• No money for electric bill. It takes two incomes to pay the monthly bills for this union family of seven. Dad is an out-of-work tradesman and Mom is on unpaid leave. They have a shut-off notice for their electrical service and do not have the money to pay the past-due bill. The family’s service will be disconnected once the temperature goes above 32 degrees.

• At risk of losing medical coverage. A recent widow of tradesman has been treated for a very serious illness. She was told that her medical coverage would soon end as she does not have the funds to pay the monthly premium. She will lose her survivor healthcare benefits and possibly the doctor currently treating her.

• Eviction notice pending. A union member is out of work due to the closing of her store. She has applied for unemployment benefits but is waiting on approval. The member lives check-to-check and does not have enough to pay her rent. Eviction proceedings will soon start if the rent is not paid in full.

Cutting off family water supply. A construction tradesman’s wages have dropped due to lack of work. He is the sole provider for his family of four, which includes a one-year old grandchild for whom he has full custody. His water will be shut off soon as he will not have the money to pay the bill before the disconnection date.

• Off work fighting cancer. A tradeswoman has been off work fighting cancer and is the sole provider for her two school-age children. Her short-term disability check does not pay all the monthly bills. She is also several months behind on her car payments and in danger of repossession.

Please, as you consider your year-end/holiday giving, add a check to the Fight Fund. Anything you can give will help our brothers and sisters and their families in crisis.

(See stories below for a variety of ways you can make your contribution and how to ask for help.)

THE GOOD NEWS

While the need of union families out-of-work for financial help is still strong (despite the misleadingly low unemployment rate) you, our readers, union brothers and sisters and locals across the region, have made a major, positive impact on thousands of lives.

The latest figures on payouts from the $5 for the Fight Fund to union families needing help show that since the Fund launched in 1996 through Dec. 11, 2018 a total of $1,355,323 has been paid out to help union families in their time of need.

From the thousands of union families helped, ‘THANK YOU’ for your generous support.

This year, $80,662 went to help 468 union families from 44 different unions. In 2017, emergency assistance totaled $103,699. In 2016, it was $96,391.

In 2015 the Fund surpassed the $1 million mark, when the Fund payouts hit $1,074,57 to help union families.

CAN YOU GIVE A LITTLE MORE? EVERY BIT HELPS

“Our members have a heart of gold and are willing to help, that’s what union solidarity is all about,” said Labor Council President Pat White. “I can’t begin to say how proud I am of our union members and locals for their incredible support and how much it has meant in the lives of so many union families. Hopefully, we can all dig a little deeper this year and send another donation.”

John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades Council, added, “We can’t rest on our laurels…. While the reported numbers of new jobs being created is high, so many are low paying jobs that it often takes two or more jobs just to make ends meet, especially if you have a family.

Multiple ways to donate to the $5 for the Fight Fund

Donations to the “$5 for the Fight” Fund can be made by check, online or through the Schnucks eScrip program. Here’s how to donate:

• Mail a check or money order to “$5 for the Fight,” c/o St. Louis Labor Council, 3301 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044. Please include your union affiliation.

• To make an online donation, visit the $5 For the Fight donation page. There is an option to create a Reoccurring Automated Donation.

• The Schnucks eScrip program is “free money” for the Fight Fund; it doesn’t cost you a penny to participate. Just pick up a free eScrip card at your local Schnucks. When you show it at checkout, Schnucks will donate a percentage of your purchase to the Fight Fund. The amount varies with your monthly purchases: one percent for the first $300; two percent from $301-$600; and three percent from $601- $999.

If you already have a Schnucks eScrip Card, you can add the Fight Fund to your existing card by calling 1-800-931-6258 and adding “St. Louis Labor Council-5 for the Fight” to the organizations you want to support. You can designate up to three organizations to get the funding as long as the group is registered with Schnucks to participate.

This is easy money for the Fight Fund, and it won’t cost you a dime. In 2018, though November, $3,120.49 has been raised for the Fight Fund from the eScrip program.

There are nine 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.

• Job Foreman – $500+ / William McKinley Honor Roll.

• General Foreman – $1,000 +/ Grover Cleveland Honor Roll.

• Major Donors – $2,500 +

• In Memoriam – to honor a loved one or friend or fellow union member.

• Organizations/Companies

If your gift moves you from one category to another, your name will automatically move into the appropriate honor roll.

One hundred percent of each donation goes to the “Fight Fund.” All efforts to promote and service the Fund are donated by the Labor Council, the United Way and the Labor Tribune.

Need help? Don’t be too proud to ask

If you are in need of emergency financial help, please don’t be too proud to ask for assistance. Getting help from the $5 for the Fight Fund is as easy as picking up the phone. Here’s how it works:

Call the Labor Participation Department at United Way and leave a message on the Labor Assistance Line at 314-539-4189.

Confirm your membership – As part of the initial conversation, the United Way Labor Liaison may ask you to call your union and ask your union representative to call Labor Liaisons to confirm that you are a union member in good standing. In some cases, certain unions prefer that the Labor Liaison call them to confirm union membership.

Assessment – Once your union membership is confirmed and your needs have been assessed, the Labor Liaison will research available resources and determine whether assistance is needed from the Fight Fund.

Payment – If assistance is appropriate, the Labor Liaison will request a payment from the St. Louis Labor Council’s $5 For the Fight Fund made directly to the union member’s mortgage company, landlord or utility companies, etc.  to prevent further action.

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