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New union coalition opens founding convention in STL

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Thousands of union members met in downtown St. Louis Monday night to help launch a new national labor movement.

The Change to Win Coalition is made up of five unions that split from the AFL-CIO this summer, plus two others. They broke from the AFL-CIO in a bitter dispute over organization and recruitment. The group will focus its campaign on building new members.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson headlined the kickoff event. He said while corporate profits have risen, poverty has expanded. "So this is the time for workers to fight back," Jackson said. "Right-to-work laws must be replaced with workers' rights to organize.

"Fifty million Americans have no health insurance. Most Americans who are in poverty work everyday. We can do better than this, and we must."

The coalition represents more than five million U.S. workers.

At the convention Monday night, s he spoke of the four-month strike against beer distributor Lohr, noting the absence of a familiar St. Louis product.

"No Anheuser-Busch here!" Hoffa proclaimed. "Don't drink Anheuser-Busch. We've got a boycott going on. We're going to make sure we get justice for our Teamster workers, and we need your help."

The coalition's convention is being held at the America's Center in downtown St. Louis.

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