ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-Thousands of union members, their families and supporters took part in the annual Labor Day parade in downtown St. Louis Monday. Under the theme “Together We Win”, an estimated 5,000 people representing 30 unions rode floats, fire trucks, tractor trailers, antique cars and other vehicles. Many wore shirts reading “Say No To RTW” or bearing other anti-right-to-work slogans.
“Unions have to be here to help workers,” says International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local One Business Manager Frank Jacobs. “The more unions are around the more people have a voice people have in their jobs and the things they do for a living.”
Ironworker Samuel Mosley says the huge turnout sends a message. “It shows that people are still willing to get up and do what’s necessary for the working class people and for all the people who are out here trying to find a way to make a living for their family.”
Along the parade route, activists collected signatures on petitions seeking to put a $12 dollar-an-hour statewide minimum wage, and a proposal to reform campaign financing and ethics, on the ballot.
The parade lasted over two hours. Many observers sitting along the sidewalks went home with bags full of candy thrown by parade participants.
Three hours before the parade, fast-food workers and their supporters rallied outside the McDonald’s at Tucker and Carr on the north edge of downtown, calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage and the right to join a union. The group, led by musicians from the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis-calling themselves “The Resistones”- marched to 19th and Olive. There, they continued their call for a higher minimum wage and the reversal of Right-To-Work.
State Representative Stacey Newman took part in the march. She said the Republican dominated legislature and Governor Eric Greitens revoked the city’s recently enacted $10 minimum wage, and enacted right-to-work, out of “pure meanness”. Newman believes those moves have awakened labor. “I think the urgency is there in terms of, we’ve got a governor and a legislature, in terms of the Republican Party in charge, that do not care, do not care about regular people.”
Fellow State Representative Doug Beck agrees. “The legislature just rolled back the minimum wage, it just took it away from these folks who’d been getting it for about three months. They just took the money away from them, just took it out of their pocket, which is amazing to me.”