As UAW strike drags on, funds desperately needed for $5 for Fight to help union families

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138 families have turned to the Fund for help; please donate what you can

UAW MEMBER FAMILIES are increasingly turning to the St. Louis Labor Council’s $5 for the Fight Fund for assistance as their strike against General Motors drags on. Donations to the “$5 for the Fight” Fund can be made by check or online. 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. Or, you can make a donation online by visiting labortribune.com/5-for-the-fight.

The $5 for the Fight Fund is sorely in need of funds as a result of a surge in calls from striking UAW members facing financial hardship as they take a stand against the corporate greed of General Motors.

Despite a recent generous $25,000 donation from the Simmons Hanley Conroy law firm, the growing desperate circumstances of UAW members, along with the regular calls for help from union families facing hardship due to medical expenses, layoffs or other reasons, is placing an increasing burden on the Fight Fund.

Prior to the Simmons donation, there was only $6,856 left in the Fight Fund. Its donation helped tremendously, but it is quickly being depleted.

Since the UAW strike began Sept. 15, some 61 UAW families have called for help, said Sonja Gholston-Byrd, director of Labor Engagement for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, which administers the Fund for the St. Louis Labor Council. In addition, Gholston-Byrd said, the Fund has received 77 recent calls for help from other area union families.

“Even with the continuing support of the Simmons Hanley Conroy firm, the Fund can hardly keep up,” said Labor Council President Pat White. “There are always families out there facing expenses or setbacks they didn’t count on, but with the UAW on strike, the need has nearly doubled.”

234 FAMILIES HELPED THIS YEAR, SO FAR
So far this year, the Fund – officially known as the Robert J. Kelley Memorial $5 for the Fight Fund – has:

  • Staved off crisis for 234 union families, providing $43,549 for medical and hospital bills, food, rent, mortgage payments and other assistance.
  • 24 new cases pending – which will easily deplete the $32,000 in the Fund following the Simmons donation.
  • Seen a dramatic increase in weekly requests for help, according to Gholston-Byrd.
YOU CAN HELP union members in need by making a donation to the St. Louis Labor Council’s Robert J. Kelley Memorial “$5 for the Fight” Fund. One hundred percent of every donation goes to the Fight Fund, and 100 percent of the money in the Fund goes to help working families in need. Mail a check or money order to “$5 for the Fight,” c/o St. Louis Labor Council, 3301 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044. Or you can make an online donation by visiting labortribune.com/5-for-the-fight/

CAN OTHER FIRMS, COMPANIES HELP?
While praising the Simmons Hanley Conroy, which has contributed more than $175,000 to the Fight Fund over the past seven years, White expressed hope that others will step up to help.

“I’m hopeful that other law firms like Simmons Hanley Conroy, as well as companies and organizations concerned about the welfare of our UAW brothers and sisters, as well as other working families in need of help, will consider supporting the Fight Fund.”

SPECIAL PRAISE FOR INDIVIDUAL DONORS
White especially praised Labor Tribune readers and local unions for consistently supporting the Fight Fund, many with automatic weekly donations.

“We’ve helped thousands of families thanks to your generosity,” White said. “Please, continue to do what you can. There’s still so much we need to do for our fellow union brothers and sisters.”

HOW TO DONATE
Donations to the “$5 for the Fight” Fund can be made by check or online.

  • 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 labortribune.com/5-for-the-fight/. An option to create a reoccurring automated donation is also available.

One hundred percent of every donation goes to the Fight Fund, and 100 percent of the money in the fund goes to help working families in need.

Union members who turn to the fund do not receive the funds directly. Instead, following confirmation of union membership and an evaluation interview with a Labor liaison at the United Way, the Fund contacts creditors, landlords, mortgage lenders, hospitals, etc. and makes payments directly to those creditors on the union members’ behalf.

Efforts to promote and service the Fund are donated by the Labor Council, United Way and the Labor Tribune.

Emergency financial help for union families

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. or other United Way resources.

• 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, hospital, etc.


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