By TIM ROWDEN
Déjà Vu Café II and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) St. Louis Chapter are continuing their tireless effort to provide meals as a sign of appreciation for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, May 8, CBTU and Déjà Vu Café II owner Gerald “Pee Wee” Johnson provided hot meals for nurses and doctors treating COVID-19 patients at John Cochran Veterans Hospital at 915 North Grand in St. Louis.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Johnson wore his uniform hat and saluted the nurses who came out to collect the meals.
“I’ve been doing this for a while now,” Johnson told them. “I’m a veteran, and the veterans hospital took care of me. I had a triple bypass. If it’s wasn’t for the VA, I wouldn’t be here.”
Johnson has been getting help along the way from Lew Moye, president emeritus of the CBTU St. Louis Chapter, and Reggie Cavitt, the chapter’s treasurer, both of whom are also veterans.
Moye is a U.S. Army veteran and Cavitt served in the U.S. Navy.
“We are here to support all of the frontline nurses and doctors, and all of the frontline workers,” Moye said. “We just appreciate all of the hard work you’re doing, not just here, but all over the city.”
Moye also used the opportunity to express CBTU’s concerns about the Trump Administration’s attacks on VA employees and their union, the American Federation of Government Employees.
“They’re under fierce attack, trying to take away their union,” Moye said. “We wanted to let them know we’re here to support them.”
REACHING OUT TO ALL THE FRONTLINE WORKERS
CBTU and Déjà Vu previously donated meals to doctors and nurses at Christian Northeast Hospital on Dunn Road, union bus drivers at the Metro Transit’s North County Transit Center on Pershall Road in Ferguson and UFCW Local 655 members working at the Grandview Plaza Schnucks store.
On April 28, they delivered lunchtime salads to bus drivers at Metro’s Forest Park-DeBaliviere Transit Center at 250 DeBaliviere Ave. in St. Louis
“This means everything just that somebody would take the time out to say ‘Hey, we see you,’ because bus drivers tend to get left out of this thing and they’re on the front lines,” said Catina Wilson, vice president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788, which represents MetroBus drivers.
Wilson, who worked as a MetroBus driver for many years before becoming a union officer, said it’s a tough job. And during a pandemic like COVID-19, and especially dangerous one.
“They’re out there working hard, and they don’t have the protection of everybody,” Wilson said adding, “They don’t have the foresight of knowing you’re calling for a ride because you’re sick. They don’t know who’s behind their heads.
“I just want thank Déjà Vu and I thank CBTU for just taking the time to think about us, because this is a hard job to do on a normal basis, once you put this pandemic in this equation, this is an extremely hard job to do.”