“We Are Union & We Vote!”
With that theme in mind, thousands of union members turned out for the Greater St. Louis Labor Council’s annual Labor Day Parade Sept. 5 in downtown St. Louis.
Check out our Photo Gallery from the parade.
In a unique recognition of their longtime service to the Labor Movement, the parade this year had three grand marshals:
- “Labor’s Priest” Father Richard Creason, labor and community activist and pastor at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in north St. Louis;
- 33-year IBEW Local 1455 Business Manager Mike Datillo; and
- IBEW International Secretary/Treasurer Salvator “Sam” Chilia, who is in town for the IBEW International Convention, which is being held in St. Louis this year to mark the 125th anniversary of the union’s founding with IBEW Local 1.
Labor Council President Pat White estimated at least 5,000 union members turned out for the parade, which proceeded east on Olive at 15th Street to Tucker Blvd., south on Tucker to Market Street, then west on Market to 15th.
He speculated that many turned out to voice their frustration over the legislative attacks workers are under in Jefferson City and throughout the country and because, with only slowly improving economic conditions, many more are becoming more involved in their union locals.
“With work being better than it’s been in many years, people feel more energized and more a part of their union,” White said. “I think people are starting to wake up and see that they need to stick together to fight the anti-worker agenda that’s going on pretty much all over the country.”
Electing Chris Koster as governor and Jason Kander as U.S. senator along with state senate and state house candidates that will fight for a better life for all Missourians are priorities for the Labor Movement in the Show Me State.
Anti-worker proponents of so-called “right-to-work” are dumping millions into Missouri’s legislative campaigns.
In just one example, Joplin businessman and union hater David Humphreys, owner of TAMKO Building Products, and his family dumped spent millions supporting challengers to Republicans who voted “No” on last year’s “right-to-work” legislation, including dumping nearly $3 million into a political action committee called the “Committee for Accountable Government.”
His efforts defeated two incumbent House Republicans and helped his preferred candidates in the Missouri Senate emerge victorious.
With his sights set on the November election, Humphreys has already doled out $2.3 million to various candidates, including a $1 million check to the so-called Committee for Accountable Government.
“I think it’s pretty obvious the attack we’re under in Jefferson City,” White said. “Whether our members are Democrats or Republicans, we’re asking them to look closely at who they vote for and the issues that they’re taking up.”
This year’s parade theme “We Are Union & We Vote!” was a message to members as well as the general public, White said.
“We do look very closely at the elections and we try to educate our members as well as we can and ask them to vote their pocketbooks and their jobs,” White said.
MORE THAN A DAY OFF
“Labor Day was not just a day off,” Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, wrote in an email to union members and supporters last week urging participation in election canvassing efforts, which kicked off last weekend.
“Labor Day was fought for by the Labor Movement to honor workers that have contributed to the strength and prosperity of our country,” Louis wrote. “The very things unions fight for like fair wages, safe workplaces, benefits, and the right to collectively bargain, are under attack here in Missouri. Many of our elected officials want to weaken labor unions, which would in turn weaken our state’s prosperity. Workers must unite together, like our forefathers did, to protect our rights and the rights of future generations.”
Canvassing kick-off activities were held in South St. Louis County, St. Charles and North St. Louis County, Jefferson County, New Madrid County, Kansas City, Springfield and Jefferson City.
“Our children deserve a future where workers are treated with the dignity they deserve,” Louis concluded. “We will not sit idly by and let our rights fade into history.”