Around 4300 people attended the Working Families Rally at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis, Mo., this Friday to protest corporate greed and the push to turn Missouri into a "right to work" state. I attended the rally and took quite a few photos, which I wanted to share with the readers here at C&L.
The video above is from one of our local stations, which decided to give "right to work" advocate and former State Senator John Loudon some equal time, all in the name of being "fair and balanced" don't you know. According to the St. Louis Beacon, there was a pro-right-to-work rally held in St. Charles, Mo., this Friday as well, but KSDK didn't air any footage from that "rally." I have to wonder if it's because almost no one showed up there.
Here's more from the St. Louis Beacon on the rally at Kiener Plaza -- Thousands of union workers turn out to protest 'corporate greed' and attacks on bargaining rights:
Thousands of area union members -- from teachers to janitors -- packed Kiener Plaza this afternoon, to protest actions by corporations and Republican-led state governments that speaker after speaker called "an attack on the middle class."
"Now is the time to send a powerful message to the enemies of working men and women," declared Jo Wanda Bozeman, president of the Parkway National Education Association.
She asserted that the nation was witnessing "a methodical and planned assault" on the collective-bargaining rights of union workers.
The crowd roared as Bozeman shouted, "We're not going to take it anymore!"
Bob Soutier, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council called the turnout -- the official count was 4,300 -- the biggest local labor gathering he's seen in years.
Although smaller than union crowds in some other states with labor fights, including Wisconsin and Indiana, Soutier said the local rally -- organized in a few days -- was evidence that "people in St. Louis are fed up, not just by Washington, but in Jefferson City."
The rally was aimed, in part, at sending a message to Missouri legislators in the state Capitol. The state Senate is slated to take a floor vote Monday on a proposal, officially called "right to work," that would bar union shops, in which all workers at a business must pay dues if a majority have voted to be represented by a union.
Soutier and other area labor leaders plan to be in the Capitol for the Senate vote, even though it's unclear if the state House will take up in the issue. It's also doubtful that Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, would sign it.
Even so, the "right to work" fight -- initiated by Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter -- has galvanized unions and many business groups.
Mayer and his allies contend that "right to work" will make it easier for the state to attract and retain businesses. Union leaders dub the measure "right to work for less" and say it's aimed at reducing worker wages, particularly since the Legislature also is voting on a proposal to curb the state's minimum wage.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, headlined a pro-right to work event held earlier Friday in St. Charles. (Click here to read the Beacon's advance coverage, including an interview with Mix.)
I know there are a lot of St. Louis union members planning to go to Wisconsin to support the protesters there and the speakers talked about that at the rally today. If anyone has any photos to share of rallies in your area or information on groups in your area supporting the workers in Wisconsin, please share them in the comments section.
Photos I took of the event in St. Louis below the fold.