Yesterday, I attended a rally with the AFL-CIO, SEIU, St. Louis Jobs with Justice, and other awesome local groups in St. Louis. The rally was in solidarity with Wisconsin, and about 70 people attended and then went on to canvass and make phone calls. Some firefighters also made an appearance to show their solidarity. The focus in Missouri is a little different than in Wisconsin, but the differences and similarities are instructive.
First, since almost everyone realizes that unions were responsible for creating the American middle class (giving us weekends and overtime pay and ending child labor practices), one argument the anti-worker pro-corporate forces often give is that "unions were once valuable, but now they're no longer needed because we have laws protecting workers." This is laughable not only because current laws are much more friendly to corporations than to workers, but also because it ignores what would happen if unions were destroyed by the Right. All one has to do is look at Missouri, where certain groups are organizing to try to roll back the minimum wage law passed by a 3 to 1 margin by Missouri voters only a few years ago, to roll back child labor laws, and to end protections against discrimination, to see what the ultimate agenda is. If unions are destroyed or significantly weakened, the Right will waste no time in rolling back every single step of progress the unions have fought so hard for, including weekends, overtime, etc. In fact, they are doing so already.
This is why it's so important to stand with workers in Wisconsin, Missouri, and all across the United States. The end game for the corporate right is the complete destruction of worker's rights, where nothing will stand in the way of maximizing corporate profits and increasing the wealth of a very small group.
So with that in mind, it was heartening to see the rallies yesterday. MoveOn.org out-organized the anti-worker groups in Jefferson City while unions were hard at work in Kansas City and St. Louis. The people are on the side of the workers, and the more they are educated about what's really going on, the stronger their support will be.
Anyway, here's a nice press release from yesterday's St. Louis rally that explains what the rally was all about:
Working Missourians Stand Together as One Against Attacks on the Middle ClassAnd here's some coverage from Fox 2 News:
Unity rally for solidarity with workers in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio and canvass to save our minimum wage
On Saturday, February 26, working Missourians held a rally and canvass in St. Louis to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin defending against attacks on the middle class. All across the country, working people facing these types of attacks are standing together in solidarity with Wisconsin families and to protect their own basic rights being threatened by the politics as usual.
“Working people voted to create jobs, but politicians bankrolled by corporate CEOs are up to the same old tired politics. Instead of focusing on jobs, they’re trying to weaken or eliminate workers’ freedom to join unions so they can’t serve as a check on corporate greed to restore balance. What’s going on in Wisconsin is not an isolated event--these attacks are sweeping the nation. In Missouri, voters approved raising the minimum wage by a 3 to 1 margin, but politicians are set to give the lowest paid workers in the state a pay cut.
Rather than creating jobs, too many of our elected officials are pushing a laundry list of attacks on working people. Minimum wage, a push to repeal child labor laws and “right to work for less legislation” are legislative priorities of out of control Wall Street banks and corporate CEOs, not Missouri voters.
Jobs with Justice and community groups, small business owners and workers who provide vital services to local communities will share their stories and concerns about the partisan political assault on working families in Missouri and demand our elected officials instead focus on creating good jobs.
Update: Looks like the tea party rallies were even worse than reported. From the photos, it looks like they had less than 50 people.