St. Louis Workers’ Education Society

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St. Louis Workers’ Education Society is the headquarters of the Communist Party USA in Missouri.

Personnel

St. Louis Workers’ Education Society, leaders as of February 2017;

Executive Board

Advisory Board

Institutional Support

As of 2015;

Advisory Board

Leaders

Derek Wetherell and Christopher R.J. Worth[3]

Margaret Phillips, Paula Jones

Beginnings

St. Louis Workers’ Education Society

The St. Louis Workers’ Education Society (StLWES) opened its doors at 2929 S. Jefferson March 27. 2015, and welcomed organizers, rabble-rousers, activists and community organizations to its first annual open house fundraiser.

StLWES, a 501(c) 3 non-profit new to St. Louis, focuses on worker-education campaigns, partnering with local union and community organizations to build a permanent culture of worker-education in St. Louis with a focus on communities of color, women and youth. It currently houses four groups.

Located in the former union hall of Operating Engineers’ Local 148, StLWES currently houses four groups: the Missouri/Kansas People’s World, Speak Progress, Labor Campaign for Single Payer and Latinos En Axion.

Supporters conversed on building the labor movement, revitalizing the community, increasing voter turnout, promoting growth of progressive small businesses and fighting for ‘”$15 and a Union” for low-wage workers

“This isn’t just a building,” said Rasheen Aldridge, the youngest member of the Ferguson Commission and director of Young Activists United-STL. “This is a movement!” Aldridge also serves on the StLWES Advisory Board.

tLWES President Tony Pecinovsky thankedd those in attendance, noting, “We depend on you to keep this building running, to organize our programs, to reach out to the community and to build a local, grassroots pro-union, worker-education infrastructure. Your support so far has been truly humbling. You make it possible for us to do the people’s work.”

The fund-raising ‘Open House’ raised $1,600, and an additional $1,200 in monthly sustainer pledges. The next day, StLWES members and supporters gathered for a day of workshops and training, beginning with a rousing two-hour political discussion on how best to combat systemic racism and sexism, and the related topic of building union diversity – one of StLWES’s goals – by reaching out to African Americans, Latinos and women.

Missouri State Rep. Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills), a member of Machinists District 9, outlined the challenges working families face in Jefferson City, where the legislature is currently dominated by far right-wing pro-business, anti-worker politicians. Since 2010, Smith and a handful of working family legislators on both sides of the aisle have had to fight to stave off passage of so-called “right-to-work” and other anti-union legislation.

Year after year Right Wing Republican lawmakers do everything possible to try and strip the working people of their rights,” Smith said. “They want to make it harder to vote, to gain access to affordable healthcare, to join a union and earn a living wage. All they care about is profits. They serve corporate masters, not the people.”

Participants also brainstormed ways of building a stronger progressive, pro-labor community through voter registration and engagement, support for the Fight for $15 movement, developing a StLWES library and public computer lab, and providing more space for grassroots groups to meet and organize.

The St. Louis Workers’ Education Society’s goal is to challenge activists and organizers to work together and think of new ideas and approaches to building a long-term movement for social and economic justice. Contact was Secretary-Treasurer, Don Giljum.

Participants in a March 28 workshop conducted at the St. Louis Workers Education Society included Nicholas James of SEIU Health Care, Holly Roe of CWA 6355, and Cecilia Schmid, a local teacher.[4]

As the evening continued, Cara Spencer, the then-20th Ward Aldermanic candidate who recently trounced a 20-year incumbent, joined in for the festivities and got to know some of her future constituents.

She connected with like-minded progressive individuals, while highlighting the important role the society's building, and the people within its walls, play in making real change in St. Louis City politics.[5]

After nearly a year of organizing, fundraising and coalition building, the St. Louis Workers' Education Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to initiating and facilitating community-labor coalition building and pro-union education curricula, recently purchased its new headquarters - a historic, beautiful, 10,000 square-foot union hall located in south St. Louis City.

The property - located at 2929 S. Jefferson Ave. - was built in 1913 and was formerly the home of the International Union of Operating Engineers' (IUOE) Local 148. Before that, it was owned by the Stove Mounters International Union of North America.

The Workers' Education Society is part of the emerging National Worker Center Movement, and actively participates in local labor-led coalition efforts to form a workers' center here in St. Louis, along with the Service Employees' International Union (SEIU), St. Louis Jobs with Justice (JWJ), the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), and the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) coalition, among others.

The Workers' Education Society offers educational curriculum focused on "Workers' Rights" and "Understanding and Advancing Democracy."

Specifically, we partner with local unions to offer on-site apprenticeship application assistance and classes on understanding a union contract, shop stewards trainings and a brief history of the St. Louis labor movement.

Theirr apprenticeship application assistance program and labor education curriculum focuses on building union membership among women, Latinos and African Americans - a large and growing part of the workforce unfortunately often denied the benefits of union membership. Additionally, we initiate voter registration and constituent meeting facilitation.

The St. Louis Workers' Education Society building currently houses national organizations like Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care, and the Speak Progress speakers' bureau, regional organizations like the Missouri/Kansas bureau of the People's World and local, grassroots organizations like Latinos En Axión STL, a immigrant rights organization - each organization building the movements for social and economic justice in its own way.

Probably most remarkably, the purchase of the 10,000 square-foot community center was made possible by local and national supporters - working men and women, union and non-union, skilled and unskilled, professional and academic - who dug deep and gave generously to make this project a reality. Additionally, we received financial support from local unions, faith leaders and elected officials.

Don Giljum, a Workers' Education Society board member and retired business manager of IUOE Local 148, told the People's World, "We've officially owned this property for about one month. The amount of support we've received is truly humbling. Our entire rehab has been volunteer driven. Not only have our supporters put their money where their mouths are, they have quite literally put their bodies - their time, sweat and energy - where their money is, the St. Louis Workers' Education Society."

Holly Roe, a social worker and member of the Missouri State Workers' Union (CWA-MSWU) Local 6355, is one of the volunteers Giljum spoke about. She has spent numerous hours cleaning, painting and working with a larger volunteer collective to help shape and guide the overall direction of the Society's rehab.

She said, "St. Louis needs a place like this. We all need a place like this - activists, union leaders, workers generally - a place we can call home, our political home. The Workers' Education Society is that place."

Leticia Seitz, the executive director of Latinos En Axión STL, couldn't agree with Roe more. Latinos En Axión STL is the most recent organization to become part of the Workers' Education Society family.

"This space is wonderful. It's open and welcoming. There is plenty of room for classes, meetings and crafts that deepen our members' connection with their culture."

Latinos En Axión STL not only organize out-reach to the Spanish speaking community, they also facilitate regular continuing education classes for Spanish speakers, English as a second language classes, workshops on domestic violence and out-reach to youth separated from their families due to immigration policy.

Rebecca Bolte, a local small business owner, sees the Workers' Education Society building as an essential bridge bringing together community and labor.

"When unions are stronger, small businesses do better," Bolte said. "It's the people in the neighborhood, the people working regular jobs, the teachers, firefighters and mechanics - not the corporate CEO's - who spend money here, who shop here, who drive our economy. If they've got good paying, union jobs, small businesses like mine do better."

Ultimately, the St. Louis Workers' Education Society sees itself as a central hub of activity, bringing together trade unions, community organizations, churches, student and small businesses - all with one goal, to make our community better![6]

"Stand with Pulse"

According to Stan Valise, in July 2016, the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society partnering with St. Louis Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC), hosted a DIY (do-it-yourself) benefit concert in support of the Orlando LGBTQ community. The concert was in observance of the horrific attack June 12 at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub resulting in 49 deaths and dozens wounded.

The convening organizations brought four bands and five speakers together for the event which drew a diverse crowd of nearly 100 and collectively raised $750, which will be matched by WES for a total of $1,500.

All concert proceeds will go to Orlando-based LGBTQ rights organization, The Center. Their mission is "to promote and empower the LGBTQ community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support." Additionally, The Center conducts clinical services, counseling and events for the LGBTQ community.

WES regularly hosts political punk shows in a series called Start Today. The objective of the series is to raise money, to build solidarity among young artists and musicians who frequent DIY rock shows, and to call people to action for local progressive causes, such as building solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Stand with A Pulse speakers included a diverse group of local leaders, each selected for their unique perspectives and experiences.

The keynote was given by KB Frazier, a community organizer with the transgender and Black Lives Matter communities. In his speech, he laid bare the threat of violence that the LGBTQ community of color faces daily. He concluded by leading a resounding collective chant, authored by Assata Shakur.

Shuron Jones, WES board member and local labor and LGBTQ advocate, demanded an end to the violence that queer and people of color face. The specter of the last several police involved killings hung in the room as she shouted, "I am not asking for safety anymore. I am not saying please. I am so tired. I am demanding that my queer, trans and siblings of color stop being targeted for violence."

Nicholas James, WES board member and performing musician, remarked that many states still do not offer protections against discriminatory practices in the workplace for LGBTQ employees.

Stephen Houldsworth, a renowned Saint Louis LGBTQ rights and HIV activist, and local punk-scene legend, recited a choked up mantra, titled Revolution will not be coming soon:

Other speakers included Nisveta Fejzic, a queer Muslim progressive activist who spoke about the intersection of homophobia, misogyny, and Islamophobia.

Tony Pecinovsky, WES president, challenged straight and white allies to resist hatred and violence.

"The Workers' Education Society was founded to create community, to share space, to collectively challenge oppression," he said. "We actively work towards a mission of inclusion and understanding by focusing our efforts within the immigrant, African American, disability and LGBTQ rights communities. We call this our WES family and we hope all of you will consider WES your home. Together, we can build something powerful."[7]

WES retreat

Nicholas James August 15, 2015:

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Benjamin Allen, Larry Burks II, Christopher R.J. Worth, Madeline Beckett, Rachel Torres, Meg Olson, Julie Terbrock, Tony Pecinovsky, Shuron Jones, Niles Zee, Neil Youmans, Nicholas James, Rebecca Bolte — with Wendy Grew.

Infiltrating the Democrats

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In 2016 many St.Louis Area Democratic candidates had close ties to the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society.Those names connected to Communist Party USA, St. Louis Workers’ Education Society, or both are Italized .

August 1, 2016 ·

Statewide

Dylan for Senate - Missouri 5th District, MO Legislature

STL City 5th Ward

6th Ward

7th Ward

8th Ward

9th Ward

10th Ward

  • Laura Hladky for 10th Ward Committeewomany for 10th Ward Committeewoman
  • Max Cassilly for 10th Ward Democratic Committeeman

14th Ward

15th Ward

20th Ward

27th Ward

References