Unions stepping up to fill the gap. Can you donate, too?
By TIM ROWDEN
St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White sees trouble on the horizon.
With the $600 weekly unemployment insurance supplement from the CARES Act having lapsed at the end of July and the Republican-majority Senate dragging its feet on the HEROES Act – the next round of pandemic response and relief funding to help hospitals, schools, businesses and the more than 16 million unemployed Americans – he anticipates calls for assistance from the Council’s Robert J. Kelley $5 for the Fight Fund that helps union families in need to increase dramatically in the coming weeks.
The Fund is in relatively good shape now, White says, but as the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation it has wrought on the economy rage on, the challenges facing working families are mounting.
“We’ve got locals out there that are just starving,” White said. “Folks in our entertainment industry, our Stagehands, the Decorators, the folks that work at the Convention Center, the folks that work at the Stadium, they’re just starving, and they’ve been starving since March.
LOCAL UNIONS STEP IN
Fortunately, our local unions and union members are stepping in to help.
At last week’s Labor Council delegates’ meeting:
- St. Louis Utility Workers (UWUA) Local 335 President Allan Bathon presented a check for $1,000 to help the Fight Fund.
- Union Label and Service Trades Council Financial Secretary/Treasurer Fritz Uhle presented a check for $250.
The next day, John Ebeling, secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Council of Newspaper Unions, announced that the Council was donating the entire balance of its treasury – $1,710.39 – to the Fight Fund.
The Council of Newspaper Unions represents unions at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and several smaller area papers, including the Labor Tribune. But as the newspaper industry has contracted, a number of the Council’s member unions have fallen by the wayside.
“We haven’t spent any money in several years. Half of the unions are gone,” said Ebeling, retired longtime St. Louis Labor Council vice president and CWA Print & Media Sector vice president. “The money was there, and with the virus and so many union members that are being hurt, unions that are with us made the decision that we should put that money to good use to help union members that are struggling during this virus.”
NEEDED NOW, MORE THAN EVER
White thanked the unions and the council for their donations, stressing that the funds are going to be needed now more than ever.
“With the CARES Act running out, and these folks in D.C. dragging their feet on the HEROES Act, and the eviction and the utility shut-off moratoriums starting to run out, these donations will really help,” White said. “I think that once the politicians decide whatever they want to do with the HEROES Act, we’re really going to get swamped with calls for $5 for the Fight.”
Details are still in the works, but White said a virtual fundraiser for the Fight Fund is being planned for the Tuesday after Labor Day. The Labor Tribune will provide details on the fundraiser once the specifics are finalized.
You can help the Fight Fund prepare for the coming tsunami of need by making a donation, no matter how small, to help union families in need.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Donations to the $5 for the Fight Fund can be made by check or online. One hundred percent of each donation goes directly to the Fund. You can donate in these ways:
- 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.
- Online – Visit https://labortribune.com/5-for-the-fight to make a secure one-time donation or an “automatic monthly deduction.”
- Schnucks eScrip program – This is “free money,” as Schnucks donates a percentage of your purchase to the Fight Fund. It doesn’t cost you a thing. You can pick up an eScrip card at your local Schnucks store.
Efforts to promote and service the Fight Fund are donated by the Labor Council, United Way and the Labor Tribune.