‘It’s the right thing to do’ – Union charitable giving brings Christmas to communities all year ’round

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X-mas Tree Year Round
Illustration by Sean O'Conner, Sprinkler Fitters Local 286

In-progress survey shows 44 unions donated $4,521,573 in services, cash, to 499 groups, charities during past two years alone. Imagine what it is state-wide from hundreds of unions!

By ED FINKELSTEIN

Publisher

As the specter of wage slavery (right-to-work) once again raises its ugly head in Missouri, it’s important for all Missourians and especially our state legislators, to understand how such a law would destroy an unseen, year around, positive contribution our unions make to Missouri: unbridled charitable giving.

Partial results from a survey still underway of local unions in the Greater St. Louis area shows that in 2013 and 2014 (to date) 44 local unions have provided $4,521,573 in cash and donated services to some 499 organizations, charities, churches, schools and social service agencies.

That few people recognize the magnitude of this contribution is testimony to the fact that the unions do it not for recognition, but because it’s the right thing to do. “Giving back” is ingrained in the DNA of what unions are all about!

ALWAYS READY TO HELP, ALWAYS

Although Christmas will come and go this week, for our unions, the spirit of Christmas giving lasts all year in every community in Missouri.

Every day of every week, some union is helping a worthy organization reach its goals: whether it’s the building trades donating their skills to build a fully accessible playground for children of all abilities in Jefferson County, the Teamsters donating money to buy Christmas gifts for children hospitalized over their most important holiday, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 raising $210,000 for a children’s home, UFCW Local 655 raising research funds to cure sickle cell anemia, the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus collecting new and “gently used” coats for needy children, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 repairing heating systems for the elderly, Operating Engineers Local 513 preparing the grounds for the Gene Slay’s Boys Club’s new community playground or Glaziers Local 513 replacing the windows of a small minority-owned bakery destroyed in the recent Ferguson riots, our unions are there, always ready to help a cause with a purpose.

TO TELL THE STORY

Can you imagine the scope of this untold community support from the hundreds of unions around the state? For the first time, the Missouri AFL-CIO and Labor Tribune are attempting to gather that information so our politicians can begin to understand what they are attempting to destroy with the phony right-to-work law that’s already been introduced – yet again – for the upcoming legislative session.

If you think about it, RTW is really wage slavery. It forces lower wages on workers’ by taking away their freedom to collectively bargain (be weakening the union) and that in turn hurts everyone.

IMPACT ON LIVES

In addition to the $4,521,573 in cash and services unions have donated to local organizations, charities, churches, schools and social service agencies over the past year, union members have donated more than $950,000 in cold hard cash since 1996 to help the St. Louis Labor Council’s “$5 for the Fight” Fund to help unemployed union members support their families while out-of-work. When you consider those numbers, you begin to appreciate the impact our unions are having on peoples’ lives beyond the bread-and-butter issues of wages and benefits.

Union charitable giving has a major impact for people in need. As that money flows back into communities across the state, it has an enormous impact on our state’s economy.

Add to the charitable work the millions of dollars that flow into Missouri and Illinois through union pensions, health and welfare payments to doctors and hospitals, and skills training paid for by the union members and their employers (at no cost to taxpayers) and you begin to get a truer picture of the indirect, unseen value our unions provide, every day.

And we do it for one reason: it’s simply the right thing to do.

UNION BENEFIT

To our lawmakers who think crippling unions through misleading right-to-work legislation is the way to grow the economy: is this something you really want to destroy? Your constituents, no matter where they live, benefit directly and indirectly, in their lives and in their communities, from having strong unions.

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