Labor News From Our Region
Group forming to help turn our frustrations into actions; seeks Labor involvement
Mobilize Missouri willing to help fight ‘right-to-work’
By ED FINKELSTEIN
If you’re tired of being frustrated about what’s happening in Missouri and Washington, there’s a new group here that could be just the action outlet you’re looking for to “do something” to combat what’s about to happen.
The slogan says it all: “Show me Activism.”
Mobilize Missouri (www.mobilizemo.org), an offshoot of liberals of all ages from the Bernie Sanders campaign originally formed after the 2015 primaries saw their candidate out of the presidential race, is now in the process of formalizing a wider grassroots organization to “Harness the energies of frustrated Missourians into a progressive political action group to promote progressive candidates and policies,” said acting Executive Director Mitzi Hoffman.
At a recent panel discussion in St. Louis County, almost 100 people showed up to express their feelings on the threats facing workers and how to move the organization forward. You can view the proceedings here.
TIRED OF JUST TALKING?
The goal: the create a cadre of committed liberals and others who are tired of what’s happening, tired of just talking and want to get out and “do something” to improve the lives of working Missourians.
The group built what is now a potential cadre of over 2,000 people on their mailing list with weekly and then monthly social gatherings designed to let people air their frustration, to encourage discussions of issues and create relationships.
Meanwhile, they held focused meetings around issues, helped progressive candidates in their campaigns and promoted positive causes on their website.
A lot if their meeting last week focused on threats to working families, including the phony “right-to-work,” Fight for $15 and the failure of the existing Democratic Party leadership to talk with voters on issues they are concerned about and in ways that they can relate to those issues.
But it was not only the Party, “It was you and me, we all failed” said panel member Shelley Hoffman, a retired teacher and member of the Missouri State Democratic Party. “The party is you and me. We all failed. We need to get more involved at the grassroots, keep up the pressure, learn from each other.”
Noted Hoffman in a web post after the meeting: “The general consensus (at the meeting) was the same: The greatest threat posed by the new administrations are the stripping of worker’s rights, as well as the racism and general corruption of both citizens and candidates demonstrated by the Right’s success.
“When asked what activists should do as a next step, the overwhelming answer was to simply get involved, and to get involved with the intention of listening to understand. When asked what we can learn from the winners of the last election, on panelist (noted) to never underestimate our opposition.”
WILLING TO HELP IN RTW FIGHT
“We’d like to be able to coordinate and work with the Labor Movement and help in their fight,” Hoffman said. “We certainly would like to have more Labor participating with our efforts.”
As an example, she said, “We’re ready to provide bodies to help canvass against ‘right-to-work’ or whatever action Labor decides is needed.”
NEED TO LISTEN
A key thread throughout the meeting: we need to LISTEN to the workers, really hear their issues and respond, something progressives failed to do in the presidential election.
Noted one panelist:
“People have got to get off Facebook, go outside and actually do something you’re passionate about.” Mobilize Missouri hopes to be the conduit to help people find out what they are passionate about and then mobilize them into action.
Other speakers talked about immigration and the Standing Rock Reservation struggle over the pipeline crossing their sacred lands.
The meeting included people from a wide variety of organizations: Jobs with Justice, Metropolitan Congregations United, Missouri Democratic Party, Green Party, Hands Up United and others. Panel presenters were Kristian Blackman, Jobs With Justice; Reverend Susan Sneed, deacon, United Methodist Church and organizer with Metropolitan Churches United; T-Dubb-O, a St. Louis hip-hop artist, also director of the Hands Up United; Rika Tyler, Hands Up United; Billy Moffett, CWA member; Shelley Hoffman, retired teacher/librarian, on State Democratic Committee and Ben Conover, data analyst and Socialist working with the Green Party.
The fledgling group was scheduled to have elections to elect permanent officers and finalize a set of guiding by-laws and operational procedures. Details were not available at press time.