Jesse Jackson brings hope to
By NORMA MENDOZA
of the Intelligencer
Striking workers from Beverly Farm got support from one
of the top civil rights leaders in the nation Thursday when
the Rev. Jesse Jackson joined them for a march and rally in
About 500 people followed Jackson up Humbert Road to a
rally where he encouraged the striking members of the
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Council 31, to "Keep hope alive."
Jackson, who preaches non-violence, told strikers he has
asked for a meeting with Gov. George Ryan to seek a peaceful
settlement of the strike. The workers walked out July 9
after 11 months of negotiations failed to end their
five-year struggle with Beverly Farm, 6301 Humbert Road in
Godfrey. Beverly Farm is a sheltered care home for
developmentally disabled adults. AFSCME Regional Director
Buddy Maupin said earlier that the company preferred to pay
for temporary personnel rather than settle the strike.
"Beverly Farm paid our people as little as $5.35 an
hour," Maupin said then. "It is hiring strikebreakers rather
than give our workers a 65-cents-an-hour raise."
Before the march, Jackson, who is an ordained Baptist
minister, went to Clayton, Mo., where he held a prayer vigil
outside one of the temporary agencies, Rehab Care Group,
A number of non-striking workers watched the march from
the sidelines, some wearing shirts with anti-strike
messages. There were signs on Beverly Farm property claiming
non-strikers want another vote on the union. Workers voted
for the union 274-47 in 1994.
Jackson encouraged the striking workers not to sell their
dignity. He called on workers who cross the picket line in
front of Beverly Farm to join the strike for the benefit of
all workers, not just those in the union.
Several officials from Madison County, Godfrey and nearby
cities also attended the rally, including state Rep. Steve