The St. Louis Faith/Labor Alliance (FLA) is completing a successful year of bringing faith and union leaders into a dynamic partnership to fight for a variety of issues that impact Missouri’s working families, ALL working families, union and non-union alike, reports the Rev. Dr. Martin Rafanan, the Alliance’s coordinator, and Rev. Rudy Pulido, the St. Louis Labor Council’s faith liaison.
“While we’ve had a good year, we have a tough year ahead and I will be touching base with you soon about some exciting initiative work that will allow us all to build a stronger political platform for economic justice work in the future,” Rev. Rafanan said in a memo this month to the more than 220 faith and union leaders now affiliated with the St. Louis Alliance, the first to be formed in Missouri.
Meanwhile, under the careful coordination of Rev. Pulido and Rev. Rafanan, the Faith/Labor Alliance concept is taking root and growing across Missouri.
To date, similar Alliances have been formed in Jefferson City and the Tri-County area (Lincoln, Warren and St. Charles counties). Groups in the early stages of formation are in Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, where a recent meeting had excellent turnout.
Rev. Pulido has also launched an aggressive outreach program to organized faith groups to bring the message of working families and the stress they are encountering. The most recent outreach was an information booth at the 161st Annual Meeting of the AME Church where pastor from states surrounding Missouri were in attendance.
In outlining the results from actions by the St. Louis Faith/Labor Alliance, Rev. Rafanan noted:
- 37 faith leaders wrote Letters to the Editor/Opinion Pieces opposing right-to-work with seven published in Faith Media and 10 published in the press statewide.
- Six faith leaders participated in in-district meetings in the St. Louis region.
- 152 direct contacts from FLA leaders to targeted senators in opposition to right-to-work and 605 emails to House and Senate legislators.
- 32 clergy participated in a Lobby Day in Jefferson City speaking with 18 senators.
- Five faith leaders led the Worker Memorial services in St. Louis.
- Three Champions Strategy Sessions that are four-hour dialogues with faith and community leaders focusing on community-building efforts by supporting workers were attended by 50 faith/community leaders.
- 33 faith leaders were prepped and 19 delivered personal or written testimony in Jefferson City.
- 223 clergy signed on to an Organizing and Collective Bargaining Support letter.
- Providing strong and consistent clergy participation in local and national campaigns including fast food, home care and janitors.
- Strong contingent of clergy from all denominations in the annual St. Louis Labor Day parade.
- An average of 78 faith and labor leaders attending the monthly breakfast update meetings.
Rev. Rafanan offered a special “thank you” to the following organizations that have sponsored one or more of the monthly Faith/Labor Alliance breakfast meetings held every fourth Thursday of the month at 8 a.m. at Maggie O’Brien’s, 2000 Market Street:
Incarnate Word Foundation, SEIU Local 1, Faith Aloud, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Laborers Local 110, UNITE HERE Local 74, Maggie O'Brien's, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Painters District Council 58, Mid South Organizing Committee of Fast Food Workers, Labor Tribune, Trinity Episcopal Church, UFCW Local 655 and the St. Louis Labor Council.
In addition, grants from the Deaconess Foundation and The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet provided support for staffing support for the Faith Labor Alliance.
WORK WILL CONTINUE
“The Faith Labor Alliance will continue to work to oppose anti-worker legislation locally and statewide as a means of building and developing our communities,” Rev. Rafanan said, adding:
“Our goal is to build strong relationships between faith and labor leaders and to effectively engage both in supporting workers in their efforts to organize and collectively bargain across the state.”