By SHERI GASSAWAY
A group of about 75 union women took to the Missouri Capitol March 8 to rally and lobby for working women and Labor as part of International Women’s Day.
A coalition of Missouri female Labor leaders, including members from the St. Louis and Kansas City chapters of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW); the Kansas City Building Trades Council, SEIU Local 1, AFSCME Council 72 and Progress Missouri, came up with the idea for the event.
Missouri AFL-CIO Political Director Merri Berry thanked the women leaders who were inspired to organize the effort and the many women and men who showed up that day to fight for working women’s rights.
“I’m proud to be among the sisterhood standing up against discrimination and fighting for equality for all working people,” Berry said. “It’s a pleasure working with you all.”
The day began with a welcome rally and briefing by Senator Gina Walsh, Democratic Minority Floor leader and president of the Missouri State Building Trades Council, and Representative Gail McCann Beatty, Democratic Minority Floor Leader, on current legislative bills that could impact negatively women and middle-class workers.
After the rally, participants were divided into groups and made the rounds visiting with legislators to lobby on important issues, such as equal pay for women, minimum wage, prevailing wage, paycheck deception and “right-to-work.”
Beth Barton, president of Missouri Women in Trades, said she took the day off work to observe International Women’s Day. She said she wanted to participate in some kind of activity, but wasn’t sure what was planned locally.
Barton, a member of Carpenters Local 1596, called Cindy Frank, chairwoman of Sisters in the Brotherhood of the St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Carpenters Council. Frank invited her to Jefferson City for the day.
“It was so awesome,” Barton said. “I’ve never done anything like that before. I talked to both of my legislators.”
A DAY WITHOUT WOMEN
Nationally, organizers of the Women’s March on Washington pegged March 8 as “A Day Without a Woman” and encouraged women to:
- Wear red as a visible show of solidarity;
- Not to engage in paid or unpaid labor;
- Avoid spending money with exceptions for small businesses, and businesses owned by women and people of color that support gender, racial and economic equity;
- Lean on male allies for caregiving and ask them to support equal pay and adequate paid family leave for women.
ST. LOUIS WOMEN’S MARCH
Locally, about 300 women and supports of women’s right took to the streets of St. Louis to show women's economic strength and impact on American society as part of “A Day Without a Women.” The group marched from Union Station to the Old Courthouse.