Business Manager Don Willey urges other unions to support the organization
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Laborers Local 110 once again has donated $50,000 to Missouri Jobs with Justice (JWJ) bringing the union local’s total contributions to the organization to $350,000 over the last seven years.
Local 110 Auditor Mark Bielicke presented JWJ organizers with the check at its End of Year Celebration Dec. 11 at the Painters District Council 58 Union Hall in St. Louis. While Local 110 has made a contribution each of the last six years, organizers said they weren’t expecting the check at the party.
“We just can’t thank Laborers Local 110 enough,” said Missouri JWJ Executive Director Caitlyn Adams. “It’s the largest union donation we receive each year, and it helps us to continue our mission of bringing together members of Labor, community, faith and student groups to fight for all Missouri workers.”
Local 110 Business Manager Don Willey, who has served on the Missouri JWJ St. Louis Leadership Board for five years, said his work on the board has represented some of his best time spent and memories made as a Labor leader. He is the first, and so far only, building trades leader to have served on the board.
“The JWJ Leadership Board has always tried to maintain a diverse representation of the St. Louis Labor Movement, and the effort always included the building trades unions,” he said. “More building trades leaders should become involved with the organization.”
STANDS WITH LABOR
ON THE BIG ISSUES
JWJ stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Labor in the fight to defeat Proposition A (“right-to-work”) in August, Willey said, helping lead to its overwhelming defeat. Voters rejected Prop A by a better than two-to-one majority – 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent.
JWJ helped lead the campaigns to pass Amendment 1 (CLEAN Missouri), to overhaul the state’s ethics and legislative redistricting laws, and Proposition B, to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage. Both measures passed in November with more than 62 percent of the vote.
Still, Willey said, he understands the hesitation some union leaders and members might have in getting involved. JWJ sometimes has a reputation of being too radical, left leaning and encompassing too many diverse interests.
“The funny thing is that I agree with those characterizations, have been accused of the same and am proud of it,” Willey said. “While I’ve served on the board, there were issues or campaigns I didn’t agree with and took a back seat on. But the issues and campaigns we agreed on far outnumbered the ones we didn’t.”
Too many union members vote against their own pocketbook issues, Willey said.
For example, after overwhelmingly defeating Prop A in August, voters turned around in November and elected or re-elected the same Republican senators and representatives who passed RTW in the first place.
JWJ fights for, and represents, workers in fighting for their causes and supporting all working people, he said, even those who sometimes voted against their own interests.
“We needed all these people to vote ‘No’ on Prop A and to vote ‘Yes’ on CLEAN Missouri and ‘Yes’ to raise the minimum wage,” Willey said. “The same great work they did on the NO on Prop A campaign is the same work they brought to the CLEAN and minimum wage campaigns. Their win/loss record is impressive.”
Willey urged union leaders to “go against your first impressions. Hedge your bet against the 30-to-45 percent of your membership that votes against their own interests and support JWJ in 2019 with a contribution. Your membership will be better off for it.”
Laborers 110 has pledged the same financial support for JWJ in 2019, Willey said, because “we know JWJ will be in the fight when the anti-worker super majority in Jefferson City ignores two thirds of Missouri voters by attacking CLEAN and the minimum wage measures and by trying to bring back RTW.”
DONATE, GET INVOLVED
For more information on Missouri JWJ, to donate or get involved, visit mojwj.org or call 314-644-0466.
Missouri Jobs with Justice involvement
in the No on Prop A campaign
Missouri Jobs with Justice (JWJ) stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its Labor allies in the fight to defeat Prop A (“right-to-work”), knowing it was a critical fight for union members and all working people in Missouri. Here are some of the ways the JWJ helped:
• Knocked on more than 15,000 doors and contacted over 9,100 voters in person and on the phone to positively urge them to Vote No on Prop A.
• Trained and deployed more than 150 volunteers to canvass and phone bank.
• Collected 2,200 No on Prop A pledge cards from the community.
• Contacted more than 2,000 voters during the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) weekend.
• Released all 13 Missouri Jobs with Justice staff members to the We Are Missouri campaign for the GOTV weekend. Staff were deployed to St. Joseph, Kansas City, Arnold, St. Louis and Springfield and ran offices in Sedalia, Warrensburg and Kirksville.
• Held Champions’ trainings in Kansas City, St. Louis, Mid-Missouri and Southeast Missouri, engaging over 110 faith and community leaders to publicly speak about why Prop A was wrong for the Missouri.
• Solicited 173 non-Labor community endorsements.
• Urged more than 300 clergy organized through the Faith Labor Alliance to talk about Prop A over the GOTV weekend.
• Mailed more than 12,000 members a Vote No on Prop A piece highlighting the effect Prop A would have on the community.
• Sent a series of Vote No on Prop A emails to the organization’s email list.
• Posted regular content on social media on Prop A, reaching more than 30,000 and engaging more than 1,800.
• Helped organize media events, op-eds and letters-to-the-editor from community members across the state.