Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Labor movement vows to heal Democratic Party


Labor movement vows to heal Democratic Party

By Chris King Of the St. Louis American


The American labor movement unequivocally vowed to heal any division in the Democratic Party at the opening session of the 37th International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists held this morning (Thursday) in Downtown St. Louis.

The senior leadership of the CBTU, the senior leadership of St. Louis Labor and executive leaders from the AFL-CIO and many other powerful international unions all spoke as one vowing to register voters mobilize voters and educate constituents to defeat the republican party in November.

Whether local to St. Louis or international, whether black or white - more than a dozen senior level labor leaders all dismissed any divisions in the democratic party and challenged the Rankin File to actively work to elect a democratic U.S. president.

“You can take a break after November 8th,” said William (Bill) Lucy, beloved president of CBTU.

Other labor leaders who spoke in unison with Lucy include:

- Arlene Holt-Baker, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and the highest-ranking minority in the American labor movement.

- Henry Nicholas, international vice president of AFSME

- Robert Soutier, president of the St. Louis Labor Council

- Gerald Feldhouse, executive secretary of the Building and Construction Trades Council of St. Louis

- Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO

Though everyone referred to all their colleagues of brother and sister regardless of race, it is worth noting that Soutier, Feldhouse and McVey are white labor leaders - indeed three of the most powerful labor leaders in heavily unionized St. Louis.

For one morning at least, it was easy to believe that there are no divisions by race or gender in the democratic party and adequate and dedicated leadership is in place to attack any divisions left over from a contentious democratic primary.

CBTU is strongly pushing an Obama candidacy. Obama called into the morning session and even his disembodied voice relayed by telephone drew a standing ovation.

Though some unions including the AFL-CIO have not endorsed Obama openly, the pro-Obama spirit that overwhelms the convention animated even the president of the Missouri AFLCIO.

After apologizing to his boss, Arlene Holdneker - who is an African American woman - Hugh McVey, a powerhouse white labor leader in Missouri, said he must depart from the protocol of neutrality and promise that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States.

Still to come at the convention, which continues through may 26 is a speech from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a greeting from U.S. Rep Wm. Lacy Clay - who has been pinpointed as the leader of voter registration efforts in Missouri- and a sermon at the Sunday morning worship service by the Rev. Douglas Parham.

Parham has been an outspoken defender of former Fire Chief Sherman George. The St. Louis Branch of CBTU, led by president Lew Moye, awarded Parham and George in their 2007 scholarship dinner.

Though the name of Mayor Francis G. Slay was not spoken this morning with Moye and Parham on the program it is safe to say Slay’s handling of the City’s first ever African America Fire Chief will be a subject of public and private conversations at this historic convention.

The convention sessions are being held at the Renaissance Grand Hotel through May 26th.

Many convention events are open to the public, with advance notice. Email Dwight Kirk at or call Lew Moye at (314) 495-5635 for more information. Also visit

No comments so far

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>


(required but not displayed)