By Ed Finkelstein
Publisher Labor Tribune
It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated..it is finished when it surrenders.”
-Ben Stein, actor, lawyer, writer
“Your work is not in vain….we are just getting started.” With that comment Lara Granich, Missouri Jobs with Justice state director, made it clear that the battle to win a livable minimum wage and cap 400 percent payday loan rates that financially cripple working Missourians is not over, not by a long shot!
Despite the fact that Missourians for Responsible Lending and Give Missouri a Raise announced on Labor Day that they were suspending their legal challenges to the Secretary of State’s rulings that petitions did not have enough valid signatures, it was clear from pronouncements made by campaign leaders that the battle had just begun.
IT’S NOT OVER YET
“We are very disappointed, but we are not deterred in the fight for economic justice in Missouri,” Granich said making it clear this issue is not dead.
“We will run the race set before us with endurance, and continue our fight or an economy that works for All Missourians,” Granich said in an e-mail last week to supporters announcing the temporary end to the current campaign.
As a clarion call that the fight is not over, she stressed that “This doesn’t change our commitment to raising the minimum wage and capping pay-day loans. We are now more prepared to complete this statewide work, and have built the powerful alliances we need to fight for economic dignity. We look forward to working with our faith, labor and community partners to (continue the) fight to build power for working Missourians.”
“We are just getting started. Thousands of volunteers helped with our campaigns over the past months. (Their) work is an inspiration that makes all future work possible.
Pointing out that more than 60 percent of Missouri voters support raising the minimum wage $1 per hour and capping payday loans at 36 percent, an that the grassroots coalition turned in more than 350,000 signatures on petitions demanding these changes, Granich emphasized that:
“The out-of-state payday lenders and corporations who have spent so much to protect their 400 percent interest rates and poverty wages are hoping this setback means we will quit our fight. But they will not have that satisfaction.”
How, after so much optimism that the legal challenges would be successful-since the campaigns needed to find a combined total of only 1,871 valid signatures from the more than 25,000 rejected, and were well on their way to doing it-could the effort fail?
“Money, money, money was the succinct answer by Nancy Cross, SEIU Local 1 Vice President.
“The opposition, working through three different front groups spending millions of dollars, used a cadre of lawyers to make sure every legal challenge possible,” said David Cook, President of UFCW Local 655.
“It soon became clear that even if we were able to clear enough signatures, and we felt we could, that they would appeal any positive court decision in our favor and tie the issue up with appeals that would drag the issue past the September 21st deadline to get on the ballot. It was clear the clock was against us, so the decision was made to conserve resources for the next stage of this battle,” Cook stressed.
“Since beginning this campaign more than a year ago, we have faced an opposition unrestrained by money, morality, truth or concern for the economic dignity of our neighbors and family members,” added Rev. James Bryan, treasurer.