Christmas year round in 2017: $2,027,438 in services, $$ to 482 groups in 11 months

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Union charitable giving is unseen but vital; $9,392,792 over past 5 years; it will be negatively impacted by RTW

By ED FINKELSTEIN
Publisher

Despite the threats facing all working families, our union members, families, retirees and apprentices in the Greater St. Louis union community continue to open their hearts and their wallets/pocketbooks to help the most vulnerable among us making the point: that for union giving, it’s Christmas year round!

An in-progress survey by the Labor Tribune to determine the extent of those hearts reveals that during the past 11 months (as of Dec. 1) 36 unions have donated $2,027,438 in free services and actual cash to 482 charities, religious and service organizations, schools, non-profit and other civic groups. And that’s from only 36 of more than 200 unions in our region!

Incredibly, since the Labor Tribune began the survey four years ago in 2013, the unions responding to the survey (average of 35 unions per year) over the past five years contributed $9,392,792 in free services and actual donated $$!

Additionally, union offices – their staffs and officers – have donated $198,124 in 2017 to the United Way and a total of $840,248 over the past five years. These donations are separate and apart from those union members give to the United Way either during the annual fund campaign or via payroll deduction year around.

This brings total union charity donations from responding unions over the past five years to $9,392,792 in free services and cash donations.

And this total does NOT include efforts by our southern Illinois unions who are not part of this survey, but who respond in kind to cries for help from their local communities as well, as several stories in this special section point out.

WHY? IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO

Why? Certainly not for publicity as few people outside of the Labor Tribune readership and those who directly benefit even know of the on-going services our unions give their organizations.

Our unions do it simple because it’s the right thing to do. Giving back is in our unions’ DNA. It’s that simple. When there’s a need, there’s a union and union members to help.

That’s why this special supplement has been created — to showcase many of the stories we’ve published this past year highlightng the true heart and soul of our union members and leadership.

DARK CLOUDS HOVER

As everyone prepares to celebrate the most joyous season of the year, there are two hovering dark clouds on our horizon:

• The impending vote next year to free workers from the terrible burden of the phony “right-to-work (for less)” law passed by the Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature, funded by out-of-state billionaires. If it’s not rejected by Missouri voters, it could bring union charitable efforts to a crawl, if not a screeching halt. When workers aren’t working, they can’t be giving. And the stats are clear: RTW negatively impacts jobs and workers’ wages.

• The continuing cry for help from unemployed and underemployed working families turning to the $5 for the Fight Fund and the United Way for critical financial support to stave off foreclosure of homes, buy vital medicines, keep utilities turned on, put food on the table.

At press time, 566 families had received $5 for the Fight and United Way help; more than two dozen are still waiting, a number that will change dramatically as a result of the strike at Christian Care Home.

BUT THE FIGHT CONTINUES

And so the fight will continue despite the dark clouds.

• PUTTING RTW DOWN: That more than 310,000 Missourians signed petitions to put the RTW issue on next year’s ballot is a positive sign that this anti-worker law can be defeated.

They know, and we’ll help the rest of Missouri voters understand, that the so-called “right-to-work is wage slavery for all working Missourians” because it deprives workers of the freedom to earn a decent living through collective bargaining free of government interference.

• RAISING WORKERS UP: The $5 for the Fight Fund will continue its support of union families in need. Despite being close to broke because of the huge demand for help, the latest appeals have begun to resonate and you are responding: as of presstime, there was $14,928 in the Fight Fund, up from the meager $420 left in late November.

But much more is needed.

Please, make a donation of any size. Every bit is a helping hand to a brother or sister.

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