Lew Moye, president emeritus of the St. Louis Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), explained why the group voted to endorse state Senator Jamilah Nasheed for president of the Board of Aldermen.
“Her fighting spirit is needed at the city level,” Moye told The American.
Asked how she has “fighting spirit” where incumbent Lewis Reed does not, Moye said, “Reed has been there for over a decade” (he was first elected to the position in 2007). “He has had the pulpit to be more aggressive on jobs and more aggressive on investments in North City.”
Asked for more specific evidence of this discrepancy in “fighting spirit,” Moye described how differently Nasheed and Reed responded to the effort to raise the minimum wage in St. Louis.
“After the minimum wage increase was passed in the city and there was an effort to take it away by the state, when I contacted Jamilah she immediately started addressing that issue in the Senate,” Moye said. “She filibustered it. She didn’t have the votes to win, but she fought for us.”
Reed, who presided over the legislative body that ultimately passed the minimum wage increase in 2015 that the state took away, initially voted to stall the bill in committee.
“Joe Vaccaro was chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and he said he was going to kill the bill by not letting it out of committee,” Moye said. As was reported at the time, Reed voted “no” with Vaccaro to not let the bill out of committee, though they lost.
Vaccaro has endorsed Reed in his reelection effort.
“After we created a groundswell of support, Reed voted to pass the bill in the end, though he voted to kill the bill in the beginning,” Moye said.
Moye said that CBTU has always been able to rely on Nasheed’s support, whereas they don’t know what to expect from Reed based on “his connections to some of the businesses.”
“Jamilah always been available to us,” Moye said. “It is not hard to get in touch with her about issues that we have in the community.”
For example, he said, Nasheed has been “a strong advocate for job training and getting more African Americans into building trades.” She secured a $300,000 grant for MOKAN to fund its pre-apprentice program “that trains folks to go right into the building trades,” Moye said, and she has been a strong supporter of Building Union Diversity, a public/private partnership between the city and the Building and Construction Trades Council of St. Louis.
“Unemployment is always double in the African-American community,” Moye said. “We need job training programs to change that. As a state senator, she has always been supportive in getting state money.”
Moye said Nasheed also is CBTU’s ally in reintroducing the trades into public school curricula. “There are a lot of good-paying jobs in those industries that we should be preparing our students for,” Moye said.
Moye said it was typical that he recently ran into Nasheed on the picket lines with government employees protesting the Trump administration during the government shutdown.
“We know from our relationship with her over the years that her heart is with working people, and she believes in a government of community involvement,” Moye said. “We believe we will always have her ear on those issues relating to employment.”
A seasoned political operative like Moye knows that you get more than just leadership of the Board of Alderman when you elect its president; you also get one of three seats (along with the mayor and comptroller) on the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (E & A), the city’s chief fiscal body.
“Her fighting spirit is needed at the city level,” Moye said. “She would be a very valuable leader at the Board of E & A trying to get the city more involved in these kinds of issues that impact us. We need a leader with the courage and vision to confront the powers that be about the urgency for change in our community.”
CBTU’s endorsement of Nasheed joins endorsements by the SEIU Missouri/Kansas State Council and a number of influential local figures, including St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones, Recorder of Deeds Michael Butler, state Rep. Peter Meredith, state Rep. Chris Carter Sr., Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge, Rev. Traci Blackmon, former Fire Chief Sherman George, Rev. Darryl Gray, Sylvester Brown Jr., Jason Wilson, Koran Bolden, De Nichols, Dana Kelly, Travis Sheridan and Lisa Orden Zarin.