OPINION: Unions: The tide that lifts all boats

Union will help Troy community grow and prosper

UAW Local 2250

It is a bold statement but one that can be proven with a real-life example. That example will be at the end of this article. Let’s start with an opposing view.

Recently, Brendan Cossette, president of the Troy, Mo., Chamber of Commerce, penned an opinion piece – “Unionization is a bad idea for Toyota workers in Troy.” It was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 5, 2024.

Mr. Cossette did his best to make joining a union sound scary, particularly for the workers. However, it was his contention that the community would suffer if the workers at the facility in Troy gained a voice-at-work that seemed tone deaf. It was refreshing to read the Chamber of Commerce express concern for their community. The problem is their words tell one story and their actions tell another.

The national Chamber of Commerce has supported every Free Trade agreement to pass Congress and become law. These trade agreements have led to a growing trade deficit in manufactured goods. From 1998 to 2021 over 70,000 plants, in communities like Troy, and over five million jobs have been lost according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Folks in Missouri and the Midwest have seen communities hollowed out by the Free Trade agreements supported by the chamber.

The Chamber also has a troubled history of ignoring what many of its members prefer while pushing a top-down corporate agenda.

Revealed: The Chamber of Commerce Strategy to kill Empathy of its Members, was published by Common Dreams, and describes a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A key part of this article highlights this quote by the Center for Media and Democracy, “There is no force in America in recent years that has spent more time and effort to keep wages low than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” In an America in which the gulf between the rich and the rest of us keeps getting wider, it is obvious which side the chamber is on.

Corporate talking points may seem strong on paper, but reality provides the ultimate rebuttal to the Chamber argument that unions hurt the community.

A few minutes down the road from Troy is the city of Wentzville, Mo. Wentzville is the home to a General Motors plant and one of the largest local unions in the state of Missouri. UAW Local 2250 represents the almost 4,000 members employed at GM.

The plant and the union have been in Wentzville since 1983 and are integral parts of the community. Wentzville has grown and prospered since then. In fact, from 2000-2020 it is the fastest growing city in Missouri and is now the 15th largest city in the Show-Me state.

This growth has been fueled by the union wages and benefits of the thousands of workers that spend their time and money in Wentzville. The community also includes local unions for the Laborers, Carpenters, and others that are threads in the fabric of the Wentzville community.

Reality tells a different tale than the horror story stitched together by the chamber and their talking points.

Troy is a small town, and the facts are that the Toyota workers are the family, friends, and neighbors of the business owners and entrepreneurs. Together, they are Troy.

When one does better, they all do better.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A response to the Chamber’s screed of misinformation, penned by Publisher Emeritus Ed Finkelstein, was published an as Op-Ed in the Post-Dispatch on April 11 and reprinted in the Labor Tribune on April 18. Brother Gilley’s comments here add yet another strong rebuttal to the chamber’s phony allegations.)

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