By SHERI GASSAWAY
Union sisters, labor leaders and activists in St. Louis joined forces July 26 for a Women’s Day of Action rally and canvass/phone bank to defeat Prop A (“right-to-work”), which will be on the Missouri election ballot Aug. 7.
Vote NO on Prop A to defeat RTW.
The event, sponsored by the Missouri Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), We Are Missouri and Missouri Women in Trades (MoWIT), was held at Laborers’ Local 42 Union Hall in St. Louis on July 26. The groups hosted another Women’s Day of Action in Kansas City later that day.
About 35 people attended the St. Louis Day event. Before hitting the streets to canvass and working the phone banks, attendees heard from some of the union women who defeated so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation in 1978 and young activists who highlighted the integral role of women in today’s fight for workers’ rights.
KNOCK ON DOORS
Missouri Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council and a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1, said she was 20 in 1978 and knocked on doors to help defeat RTW. At the time, she didn’t carry a union card, but her father did – he was a Teamster who was on strike.
“I was one of six children, and I knew the value of the wage he brought home,” Walsh said. “We didn’t defeat RTW in 1978 with just union members, we reached out to everyone – doctors, lawyers, dentists and teachers, and we’re going to have to do the same thing today.”
Earline Jones, president of the Missouri Alliance of Retired Americans Education Fund and a CWA Local 6300 retiree, was a new steward at a call center in 1978 where the majority of employees were women. She said that’s where she received training on phone banking against RTW – training she now puts to use every day.
“We were very successful in 1978, and I know in my heart we’re going to be successful now,” she said. “But it’s all hands-on deck right now people, and you do what you can do. I like talking on the phone, and I give three-and-a half hours each day at CWA Local 6300.”
TALK TO EVERYONE YOU SEE ABOUT VOTING ‘NO’ PROP A
Aurora Bihler, an Ironworkers Local 396 journeywoman and member of MoWIT and CLUW, said her union last year became the first in the building trades industry to provide six months paid pre-delivery and six weeks post-delivery maternity leave due to the physical challenges of the job.
“That is something I could not negotiate by myself,” Bihler said. “Maternity leave for ironworkers could only happen through union representation. If we want better working conditions, we need union representation. I urge you, your friends, your family, anyone you can talk to – at the grocery store or at the park – to vote no on Prop A.”
SHARE YOUR OPPOSITION TO PROP A ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Robbie Robinson, president of Missouri CLUW and secretary-treasurer/union steward for APWU St. Louis Gateway Local, encouraged attendees to share their positions on Prop A on social media.
“Make sure your friends and family know you are against Prop A and share it daily on Facebook and Twitter,” she said. “As long as they know you’re against it, they will be against it, because half the time they may not know what it is about.”