Resolution of support urges Board of Aldermen to act quickly for implementation
By ED FINKELSTEIN
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones outlined an aggressive plan to the St. Louis Labor Council’s Executive Board June 14 to enhance the lives and jobs of residents in the city’s spending of the first $190 million to be received shortly from the new federal American Rescue Plan that ultimately will pump over $500 million into city coffers.
Labor Council delegates unanimously approved a resolution supporting the mayor’s priorities on June 15, and urged the St. Louis Board of Alderman act quickly to implement the program.
In her remarks to the Executive Board, Mayor Jones recognized the importance of hiring local qualified union construction contractors to do the work targeted in her priorities, including rehabbing and building of new facilities and, for the first time, ensuring those who will be working in the finished facilities will earn a living wage – something that has not been a priority in previous administrations.
Those are just two of the very Labor-friendly goals of the mayor’s proposed Community Benefits Program.
INITIAL SPENDING TARGETS
Mayor Jones outlined major target areas for the initial $190 million, including but not limited to:
- $9.7 million for health needs.
- $17.9 million for housing and utility assistance.
- $13 million to help the homeless, including development of a special housing encampment and construction of tiny homes for the homeless.
- $14. 5 million for economic relief for individuals and businesses.
- $4 million for youth initiatives.
- $6 million to increase internet access.
A special 26-member stimulus advisory board has been established to help organize and oversee appropriate spending of the funds.
In its resolution, the Labor Council called for quick action by the Board of Alderman, noting the “funds (will) provide crucial, direct relief to residents across St. Louis City through housing assistance, small business support, critical health care infrastructure and more.”
HELP FOR WORKING FAMILIES
In response to a question about helping get service workers back on the job, the mayor noted several million will be set aside to provide childcare, a major issue for two-parent working families.
“We appreciate the comprehensive nature of the mayor’s plan,” Council President Pat White said, “and her demonstrated support of Labor in the appointment of former executive board member Nancy Cross as the city’s new Director of Operations.
Cross is former vice president of Service Employees Local 1 and represented workers in the St. Louis region.
In response to a question about expanding Metro rail service, Mayor Jones noted there is a joint effort under consideration between the city, St. Louis County and Madison County councils.
Throughout her comments, Mayor Jones stressed the need to support working families by ensuring they have access to the many thousands of jobs that will be created and that resources will be spent to help them meet critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.