Rev. Pulido to serve as labor liaison for our unions
In what is probably one of the most progressive, if not the first of its kind, efforts in the U.S. to strengthen the bonds between the area’s faith community and the labor movement, the Greater St. Louis Labor Council has enlisted the help of Rev. Rudy Pulido, a Baptist minister with a strong labor family background, to serve as its official liaison to the faith community.
Following on the heels of the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council that initiated the concept with Rev. Pulido a year ago, Rev. Pulido will work with the labor movement to help faith leaders of all denominations understand the critical issues facing working people in Missouri, issues being pushed by the radical elements in the Republican leadership in the Missouri Legislature to strip unions and working people of their ability to maintain a middle class lifestyle in this state.
This is the second major initiative to strengthen labor ties with the faith community. In 2012, Jobs with Justice and the Labor Council formed the Faith/Labor Alliance that now meets for breakfast the last Thursday of every month at Maggie O’Briens to support efforts between the two communities.
“It’s a needed and well-timed step in helping to reconnect the clergy with our unions just as they were in decades past when labor and the clergy fought together for issues protecting working families,” said Rev. Pulido.
“This task will be educational and relational to help clergy understand matters important to organized labor and helping organized labor understand matters important to religious leaders. I’m looking forward to the challenge and extending the efforts we started with the Laborers District Council.”
WHEN IT BEGAN
In his efforts with the Laborers District Council, Rev. Pulido visited with numerous religious groups of many faiths to explain both the RTW and the paycheck deception issues, both of which failed this year.
As part of that effort, earlier this year, with the cooperation of the University of Missouri Extension Division, he organized a seminar for clergy designed to help them understand unions and the collective bargaining process. (See ‘Moral Factor’ Op/Ed on Page 2.)
“In the golden years of labor unions in the United States a strong bond existed between labor and clergy. In subsequent years the relationship eroded. Both had other pressing issues thus causing their mutual concerns to fade,” Rev. Pulido’s Op/Ed points out.
“Now with the economic gap between workers and management widening to historic heights and an evaporating middle class, clergy are awakening to the moral dimension found in contemporary labor issues.”
Rev. Pulido will be focusing his efforts in helping clergy understand the issue of the so-called right-to-work (for less) effort that key Republicans, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and Missouri House of Representatives leader Tim Jones, have said will be a priority in the 2014 session of the Missouri Legislature after it failed to gain traction this year.
“Rev. Pulido is a strong believer in workers’ rights, in fairness and justice. He will provide positive input to our faith communities on the pressing issues workers in Missouri face today. We need another voice of reason in this state – and his efforts with the clergy can help accomplish that,” said Bob Soutier, president, Greater St. Louis Labor Council.
“We are confident he will have an immediate impact in helping the faith community understand what’s really happening in Missouri and how it impacts the working families in their own congregations.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“I firmly believe Rev. Pulido is making a difference in the way the clergy are viewing our issues, particularly the phony right-to-work issue,” said Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council Business Manager Gary Elliott.
“Too many pastors did not tie RTW to unfair worker treatment. He opened their eyes to the fact that you can’t simply expect workers to become martyrs and accept unfair treatment but rather that they have an obligation to stand for what’s right and to fight to ensure that all workers are treated as human beings. After all, we are all created in God’s image.”
Rev. Pulido comes by his beliefs in unions honestly. After World War II, his family moved from Texas to Detroit where his father got a job in an auto plant and became a member of the United Auto Workers. “It was a time in our country when the middle class emerged and with it families like ours prospered,” Rev. Pulido said.
He recounts three major events impacted by organized labor that are vivid memories:
• “When father came home and showed me his first $100 a week paycheck. As a depression child he never conceived of a time when he would be making that much money. He owed it to what Walter Ruther, UAW president, had won for the working man.”
• The second involved his father being in an auto accident, forcing him out of work for six months. The union’s health benefits were crucial to their financial survival. “And when he was able to work again, his job was there for him.”
• The retirement of his father early because of a heart condition. “He was able to go into retirement enjoying the benefits again won for him by organized labor.”
“ Working with organized labor is, in a manner of speaking, payback for the contribution labor made to me and my family. I truly believe my long deceased father would take joy in that fact,” Rev. Pulido said.
AN ACCOMPLISHED PASTOR
A 1965 graduate from the Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Mo, he earned his BA degree from Mississippi College, Clinton, Miss., and his doctorate from Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Since then, he has served as pastor for four congregations, the latest as interim pastor for the First Baptist Church, Belleville, IL.
In addition to his direct service at the pulpit, his denominational service in the community includes services with the board of directors for the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Baptist General Convention of Missouri representative to the St. Louis Interfaith Partnership Cabinet, executive board and nominating committee of the Missouri Baptist Convention, trustee for the St. Louis Metro Association for Baptist Charities and Missouri Baptist University.
His community service has included: St. Louis Workers Right Board, National Council of Jewish Women Micro-financing Advisory Board, member of the Interfaith Partnership St. Louis, St. Louis Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
He has also served on the United Way Allocations Panel, South City YMCA Board of Advisors, Watson Business Association Council, Missouri Baptist and St. Joseph hospitals Board of Community Advisors, and the Board of Trustees of Missouri Baptist University.