Laborer, family lived in hotel till $5 Fight Fund stepped in

Bridgeton – Kurt has known good times and bad.

When times were good, Kurt, 43, would alternate between general labor and environmental testing as a member of Laborers Local 42. When the work dried up as a general laborer, he could fall back on environmental testing. But starting in late 2008, the gaps between work started getting longer. Then, in 2009, the work dried up for real.

[frame src=”×163.png” width=”150″ height=”150″ align=”left” style=”2″ linkstyle=”none”]He was picking up side jobs to support himself, his wife, Mary, and their four college-age children, two daughters, now ages 22 and 23, and two sons, ages 20 and 21. Eventually, even the side jobs dried up.


Weeks turned into months. When the work didn’t come through, other things had to go.

“The first thing to go was the cable,” Kurt said. “Then, the cell phones. You start doing a whole process of elimination.”

Mary had a job working as a switchboard operator at a local hospital, but the $10 an hour she was paid didn’t go far.

The kids, each working but struggling to make ends meet, withdrew from their college classes because there wasn’t enough money to cover their tuition and other expenses.

Kurt and Mary started falling behind on their utility bills.

They fell behind on the rent on their home in Bridgeton.

Then the eviction notice came.

They scraped up $2,000 to get current on their rent, but it was too late. The eviction process had already begun.

Kurt and Mary wound up living in a hotel with their youngest son, while their older children scattered to the homes of friends.


Kurt was reading the Labor Tribune when he came across an article on the St. Louis Labor Council’s $5 for the Fight Fund. He had donated to the fund in the past, but never fully understood where that money went, until he needed it.

The fund helped them catch up on their bills and find a place to stay after they were forced out of their home.

“They helped out in a lot of different ways,” Kurt said. “I was laid off and there was no money coming in. My back was against the wall. They helped out as far as getting us someplace to stay for a little bit. They helped us find and get into an apartment and helped us with a security deposit.”

The fund also helped them get caught up on their utility bills so they could start with a clean slate.


Today, things are looking up, in ways large and small.

Kurt has since landed a job with contractor and is getting about two days of work a week. While that’s a far cry from where he was before the economy soured, he’s happy to have at least some money coming in.

Kurt and Mary’s 22-year-old daughter has since married. Her husband is in the fire academy and she is studying to become a paramedic.

Their 21-year-old son, who was also studying to be a paramedic, has put that dream on hold so he can save some money. He’s currently working in retail.

Their 23-year-old daughter is taking a business class.

Their youngest son is back in school taking general courses. He currently works at a health club.


If you’ve been helped through the $5 for the Fight Fund, the Labor Tribune wants to share your story – anonymously, if you prefer – with our readers who may be experiencing similar hardships or wondering whether they should contribute more to the fund.

To share your story, contact Tim Rowden at the Labor Tribune at 314-535-9660 ext. 138 or email or mail your story and contact information to Labor Tribune, 505 S. Ewing, St. Louis, MO 63103.

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