ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, Michael Sorkin
Alberta Slavin, who founded the consumer movement in Missouri 40 years ago with a group of housewives angry over grocery prices, died Monday (Oct. 27, 2008) at St. Louis University Hospital after a lengthy illness. She was 78 and a longtime Clayton resident. Her Housewives Elect Lower Prices (HELP) group gained national prominence in 1967 targeting supermarkets over high prices in inner city neighborhoods. She then formed the Utility Consumers Council of Missouri after the phone company cut off her service because she wasn’t using a company-approved telephone. Gov. Joe Teasdale named her in 1977 to the Missouri Public Service Commission, calling her the first consumer advocate to head it.For nearly seven years in the 1980s, she was the “On Your Side” reporter at KMOV-TV.
In 2001, Attorney General Jay Nixon named her to the board of directors of the new Missouri Health Foundation and she became its president. Today, the foundation has more than $1 billion on hand to help Missourians improve their health.
In 2006, Mrs. Slavin again became concerned at what she considered the lack of consumer influence to counter utilities and their allies in Jefferson City. She formed the Consumers Council of Missouri, a budding statewide group that speaks for consumers. Today, the group is fighting an effort by AmerenUE to reverse a state law preventing electric companies from charging customers for power plants before they become operational.
Missouri voters approved the law in 1976 and Mrs. Slavin and her first consumers council led the fight.Mrs. Slavin remained president of the newly reconstituted group until her death. “She was Ms. Consumer in Missouri for decades,” said Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City.