By DAVID A. COOK
It’s hard to imagine that the year 2019 is almost over. In a few short weeks, we’ll finish our annual “zoom through the holidays” and find ourselves staring at 2020, a critical year in the life of this local union and the lives of many others.
In early 2020, we hope to wrap up a new Dierberg’s contract for our partners. As most of you know by now, this contract will be particularly important since it will likely feature a new pension program. Pensions are a key pillar of union benefits, and providing a pension that allows someone to retire with dignity is one of the most important things any union does.
ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES; THINK BEFORE VOTING
The year 2020 will also be an election year. As usual, politics will increasingly dominate our national conversation, as well as discussions around the dinner table. As we inch closer to a presidential election, millions of voters will consider casting their ballots for everything from a local school board to the President of the United States.
These elections will have consequences. For union men and women (especially those of us here in Missouri) the election could carry particular significance. While it may seem long ago, we are barely more than one year removed from the fight to stop “Right-to-Work” for less in Missouri. This was a costly, time consuming, exhaustive fight that required herculean efforts from hard-working families across the state. Ultimately, a bi-partisan group of voters from different parts of the state and different backgrounds came together and sent a resounding message to reject Proposition A.
In the year since, many of you have asked me how long it will be before Right-to-Work for less rears its ugly head once again. I am sorry to say that I cannot answer that question with certainty. However, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I can take a guess: soon.
STUCK IN A POLITICAL RUT
There are many politicians in this state who proudly supported Right-to-Work for less. While voters overwhelmingly rejected the law, almost every single one of those politicians kept their jobs the following November. It’s a phenomenon I still cannot explain, but many of the voters who turned out to gleefully reject Prop A returned to the polls months later to elect the same men and women who tried to bring this horrible law to Missouri in the first place.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. Perhaps the many Republican voters who said “no” to RTW simply could not bring themselves to vote against a party to which they are often loyal. Perhaps it’s a sign that voters often compartmentalize their issues. Perhaps it’s neither of these things.
What I do know is that a few months after we made history in Missouri, we passed other legislation aimed at supporting working people over wealthy donors and greedy CEOs. We voted in huge numbers to raise the minimum wage and pass Clean Missouri, and we even legalized medical marijuana.
There will be time in the months to come to talk about the importance of elections. There will be time in months to come to talk about which candidates up and down the ballot have committed to fighting for hard-working people instead of wealthy donors or special interests. There will be time in the months to come to talk about what progress has been made, and what progress might be at risk of being undone.
TIME FLIES; THE FIGHT CONTINUES
But as we sail through the holidays and approach 2020, I’d ask you to consider what this union family might look like in the long term. Consider just how quickly 2019 passed, and consider how quickly the years to come might pass by as well.
Whether it’s our fight for the best contracts possible, our political fights to protect workers –– our charity work to cure blood cancer and stop sickle cell disease –– or simply to bring toys to children during the holidays, the work of this local union does not stop. We have to consider the future before us, and what role we want to play in shaping it.