Labor urges ‘YES’ vote on Aug. 3
By PAT WHITE
President, St. Louis Labor Council
Executive Secretary-Treasurer, St. Louis Building Trades Council
There’s an old phrase that says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
That’s particularly fitting as St. Louis returns to work following the pandemic. Each of us will play an essential role in making sure the region flourishes, and we cannot do that without the most important ingredient: a prepared and trained workforce.
Proposition R – a proposed eight-cent operating rate increase for St. Louis Community College (STLCC) on the Aug. 3 ballot – is the key to making that possible. That is why it has the full and enthusiastic support of the Labor community.
STLCC, in partnership with regional trade and union groups, economic development organizations and school districts, has been critical in preparing skilled workers for today’s good-paying jobs, and those of tomorrow.
Proposition R will provide the funding STLCC needs to keep pace with the essential facility updates and program enhancements needed to support the evolving job training and retraining needs of today’s workforce, and those of tomorrow, to have successful careers in our changing economy.
According to STLCC’s 2020 State of St. Louis Workforce survey, an ongoing shortage of skilled workers is stopping local businesses from growing. As state funding for higher education shrinks — down 20 percent since 2008 — our community is facing the very real effects of a workforce that cannot meet the demands of our local economy. In critical industries such as healthcare and IT, employers say they simply cannot fill the thousands of open positions currently available.
Since its inception, STLCC has served a diverse body of students from throughout our region, providing them training for fulfilling careers in vital industries such as healthcare, technology, construction, manufacturing and more – jobs that ultimately benefit us all.
If approved by voters, Proposition R will provide the funding for:
- Campus renovations to ensure space is used efficiently. Some $350 million in Proposition R funds will be used for construction projects right here in St. Louis to renovate and repurpose facilities and update technology to provide real-world learning experiences. This will provide tens of thousands of man-hours of work for our local construction workforce for years to come.
- Updating job training and retraining programs to give existing workers and students preparing to enter the workforce the skills needed in critical industries in our region, including healthcare, information technology, infrastructure, financial services, biotechnology and manufacturing –– to name just a few.
- Enhancing security throughout the campuses to ensure the thousands of STLCC students who are already working full-time can safely attend night and/or weekend classes.
- Continuing to provide affordable career and learning opportunities to a wide range of students who might otherwise not have the opportunity.
We all benefit from having an educated, skilled labor force that can meet the changing workforce needs of today and tomorrow. When workers can find good job opportunities because they have the needed new skills, and employers can find enough workers to fill the jobs being created by an expanding economy, our community thrives, our economy grows and we all benefit.
St. Louis Community College unlocks possibilities for everyone.
That’s why the Labor community is proud to join the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees in urging a ‘YES’ vote for Proposition R on Aug. 3
We all stand to benefit.