Union leader, pastor say stakes are high for people of color in Missouri this election


The national labor organization AFL-CIO is trying to take a more active role in issues affecting people of color, and has its eye on Missouri in particular this election.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre is in St. Louis this weekend for the fifth time in a year to talk about race, politics and the photo voter ID amendment on Missouri’s November ballot.

“In our 2013 convention where I was first elected to my office, part of our big theme was to have a lasting, transformational relationship with community organizations and to specifically highlight issues like mass incarceration and immigration as permanent labor issues, not side issues,” said Gebre, who was born in Ethiopia.

“The labor movement has always worked hand in hand (with civil rights),” Gebre said, noting that union leaders helped organize the 1963 march for racial economic justice where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“But we think we can do a lot better. We think we can make this relationship a transformational instead of transactional relationship where we write checks and they support us in our picket lines,” Gebre said.

During a rally Saturday against the photo voter ID amendment, Gebre told the room full of people gathered to canvas St. Louis neighborhoods that he may look different than the labor leaders people are used to.


by Camille Phillips

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