Annual Shop Stewards meeting sees largest turnout of political leaders
As soon as current food contract negotiations are over, Local 655 will do a major reallocation of our internal resources in an effort to enhance the lives of our members and their families over the long term, President David Cook reported to almost 200 shop stewards attending the annual All Stewards meeting at the union hall.
To make that reallocation work will take a renewed effort and extended engagement by our union’s shop stewards, President Cook said, reiterating the union’s #1 goal: obtain the best possible contracts to provide our current members and families with a high quality of life as well as our members of the future.
Contract negotiations are going slowly, Cook said, because of the health care issue. He criticized the Obama Administration for postponing implementation for a year a key component of the new Health Care Act, requiring large employers to provide health care or face major fines.
“That means we are subsidizing Walmart,” one of the stewards said, with President Cook adding, “That’s absolutely right…you and your employers are helping pay the health care costs of Walmart employees who, in the majority, have no health insurance, go to the emergency rooms and that cost gets passed off to us in terms of higher insurance premiums.”
He added that the new law is already working because premium increases which used to be double digit year are not two and three percent. While we support the new law, it needs revisions, he added.
The largest turnout of political leaders yet attending a stewards meeting, both Democrats and Republicans, were on hand to meet and talk with our stewards. President Cook said that if it were not for a number of right-thinking Republicans, and certainly our Democratic friends, we’d have the phony, anti-worker right-to-work (for less) law in Missouri today.
Referring to the just-completed session of the Missouri Legislature where major anti-worker attempts were batted down, President Cook warned that “It’s not over yet,” noting that a veto session will come up soon and everyone will have to work hard to sustain Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes of the bad laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.
To fulfill the “Union Proud” direction of Local 655, President Cook said it hinges on three concepts:
• Better communication with member and the public. He urged the stewards to take the union’s message to both audiences to help grow the union, which will help protect and improve the contracts we now have.
• Re-allocation of the union staff’s time to strengthen our organizing efforts to grow the union and enhance our political involvement to protect workers’ rights and contracts. He pointed out that to do this will take a renewed commitment from shop stewards to serve as the union’s representative in the work place.
• Build partnerships throughout the community and the politicians, both “right-thinking” Democrats and Republicans, to enhance the effectiveness of the union’s efforts. He noted Local 655’s recent involvement in the Gay Pride celebration and the immigration rally as two key examples of Local 655’s outreach to support groups who in turn will be our allies in our fights for workers’ rights.
“We need partnerships if we’re going to build a better America, a better St. Louis, a better union, as a counterbalance to the massive corporate greed that’s taken ahold of our nation,” President Cook stressed.