By TIM ROWDEN
St. Louis – Four major Labor unions joined with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) last week announcing their opposition to plans to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
Communications Workers of America Locals 6300 and 655, the American Federation of Teachers Local 420 (representing St. Louis Public Schools teachers), the American Postal Workers Union St. Louis Gateway District 8 and UNITE HERE Local 74 came out against alternate privatization proposals submitted by a petition group and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, joining the growing movement against the Rex Sinquefield-backed effort.
The unions and Labor organizations, together with Service Employees International Union Local 1, which previously announced its opposition to the privatization effort, represent more than 14,000 working people across St. Louis including nearly 550 at Lambert.
“This rigged airport deal only benefits wealthy special interests and the well-connected,” said Lew Moye, president emeritus of CBTU. “Working families in North City are sick of these empty promises; our neighborhoods need real investment, and airport privatization is not the way to do it.”
LOWER WAGES, WORSE BENEFITS
“Privatization means lower wages and worse benefits when working families are already struggling to make ends meet,” said UNITE HERE Local 74 President Kevin McNatt. Local 74 represents nearly 450 working people at Lambert and approximately 3,500 workers across the region.
“Privatizing Lambert would harm working people across our entire city,” he said.
The unions announced their opposition to the proposal at a press conference Monday, July 13, in Kiener Plaza, joined by Alderwoman Megan Green (15th Ward) and Alderwoman Cara Spencer (20th Ward ) ahead of an expected vote on the issue this week.
Green noted that Reed has moved airport privatization legislation, (BB71), through City Hall at lightning speed, with the Board of Aldermen scheduled to meet in a special session Tuesday, July 14, for a possible final vote on the measure.
A similar privatization effort, financially backed by a dark money organization tied to billionaire Rex Sinquefield and connected to Reed, is on track for the November ballot. Both would benefit Sinquefield and connected consultants who are set for a $44 million payout should Lambert be privatized.
The unions are urging elected officials to reject privatization schemes both at City Hall and at the ballot box, and they and the affiliated Labor groups say they are ready to educate their members and communities about the dangers of privatizing the city’s most important asset.
Should the initiative appear on the ballot in the fall, the coalition of unions say they will work to mobilize voters against the initiative through digital and other organizing methods in line with CDC COVID-19 guidelines.
WORKING PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER
“Working people are coming together, across different backgrounds, to oppose this scheme for our city,” said Communications Workers of America Local 6355 President Natashia Pickens. “We’ll see who stands with St. Louis working families and who stands with the billionaires pushing this bad deal.”
When public assets are privatized, wages and benefits for the working people who keep them running are often the first things wealthy special interests cut. Declining standards at Lambert would hurt working families across the region by lowering wages and benefits in the long run. St. Louis Lambert Airport should be an economic engine by creating good-paying jobs for working people across our region to help lift up the communities that need it most.
UNIONS, GROUPS SUPPORTING AIRPORT PRIVATIZATION
Unions and organizations that have come out in support of the privatization effort include the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, the St. Louis NAACP and the MoKAN Business and Educational Center, which assists minority contractors.