Fight to stop ‘RTW’ is under way

SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP ‘RTW’: Volunteers received Missouri AFL-CIO training recently on the petition for a Citizens’ Referendum to stop “right-to-work” in Missouri at the Tri-County Labor Club. – Labor Tribune photo

Signature gathering training has begun


St. Charles, MO – The fight to stop so-called “right-to-work” in Missouri kicked off recently with a “Train the Trainer” program at Tri-County Labor Club and continued on municipal election day April 4 at polling sites in St. Charles County, where newly trained union members and volunteers began collecting signatures on the Citizens’ Referendum petition calling for a public vote on the issue.

If volunteers are successful in collecting the more than 140,000 signatures needed by Aug. 25, the Citizens’ Referendum would halt the Aug. 28 implementation of so-called “right-to-work” legislation signed into law by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and place the measure on hold until Missouri voters have a chance to decide the issue in a state-wide vote in November 2018.

“I don’t think there’s any issue more important than what we’re facing right now in our fight to stop ‘right-to-work’ in Missouri,” said Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO. “The future of the Labor Movement in Missouri, and the future of every working family in our state, depends on our getting this right and stopping this wrong-headed legislation in its tracks.

“We’re also continuing to track the bad legislation on paycheck deception and other public sector bills as well as repeal of prevailing wage and project labor agreements,” Louis added, noting the ongoing assault on working families and Labor unions taking place in Jefferson City.

So-called “right-to-work” laws inject government into collective bargaining by prohibiting companies from negotiating labor contracts that require workers to pay either dues or a ‘fair share fee’ for the union representation they receive. With RTW, the result is weaker unions and less representation for workers.

States that have passed so-called “right-to-work” have lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces, which is why stopping this law from taking effect is so important.


It is essential that union members and volunteers be trained before collecting signatures.

“As we found out through our pilot program in St. Charles, trainings are an intricate part of making our efforts a successful piece of the puzzle to beating back ‘right-to-work’ in Missouri,” Louis said. “So many situations in the field were handled expertly by our volunteers because of the training program that could have otherwise gone awry.”

Training sessions for trainers and individuals wanting to gather signatures are being scheduled throughout the state. A current list of training dates and locations is available at the Missouri AFL-CIO’s website at You can sign-up for training by simply clicking on the location nearest you. (

These dual-purpose sessions will:

• Provide “Train the Trainer” instructions to allow trained union members to go back to their local union and train their own members to collect signatures and further help by serving as a point person for their local collected signature pages.

• Provide training to any person who just wants to be a signature collector.

“Petitions should only be handled and circulated by someone who has completed the training,” Louis said. “I hope that everyone understands that we have to stick to this rule, as any mistakes that we may make could be an unintended but crucial blow to defeating ‘right-to-work.’ ”


As approved by the Missouri General Assembly, Senate Bill 19 – the so-called “right-to-work” legislation – prohibits employers from deciding for themselves how to run their businesses and reach agreements with their employees. Gov. Greitens signed Senate Bill 19 into law on Feb. 6.

The Missouri AFL-CIO and Missouri NAACP filed a Citizens’ Referendum Petition with the Missouri Secretary of State on the same day to refer the issue to voters.

According to Missouri’s Constitution, legislation passed by the Missouri General Assembly must be referred to voters if signatures are collected from five percent of voters from two-thirds of Missouri’s congressional districts.

The language for the referendum was approved by the Secretary of State on March 29 and the Missouri AFL-CIO immediately set to work scheduling its “Train the Trainer” pilot with the Tri-County Labor Club.

The Citizens’ Referendum was widely used in Missouri from 1914 to 1922 but has been used only six times in the last 80 years. It was last used in 1982, when Missouri voters rejected a law that would have allowed larger trucks on the state’s major highways. Of the 26 referenda called since 1914, voters were successful in defeating bad laws 24 times. Voters approved the action of the General Assembly only two times in that period – both in the 1920s.

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Signature gathering training schedule

If you want to join the effort to stop so-called “right-to-work” in Missouri by collecting signatures as well as training others to collect signatures on the Citizens’ Referendum petition, please plan on attending a “Train the Trainer” session hosted by the Missouri AFL-CIO at a location near you. After receiving training you will be able to go back to your local union and train your own members to collect signatures and help by serving as a point person for the local for collected signature pages. Also, if you just want to help collect signatures, please attend one of the sessions. Following is the initial schedule. Additional trainings will be added on a rolling basis.

• April 13 – St. Louis, MO

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Hosted by: IBEW Local 1

IBEW Local 1 hall, 5850 Elizabeth Ave.,

St. Louis, MO 63110

• April 17 – St. Joseph, MO

Time: 6 p.m.

Hosted by: The Northwest Missouri Labor Council

Callison Hall, 1222 South 10th St.,

Saint Joseph, MO 64503

• April 18 – St. Louis, MO

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Hosted by: The Saint Louis Central Labor Council

Location: IBEW Local 1 hall, 5850 Elizabeth Ave.,

St. Louis, MO 63110

• April 19 – Jefferson City, MO

Time: 6 p.m.

Hosted by: The Jefferson City Labor Council

Location: Jefferson City Labor Temple, 209 Flora Drive,

Jefferson City, MO 65101

Additional trainings will be added on a rolling basis. The Missouri AFL-CIO is working on times and locations for training in the Kansas City area and North East Missouri area the week of April 17 and/or 24.

For larger groups, the Missouri AFL-CIO will provide professional trainers upon request. For more information or to request a trainer, contact Missouri AFL-CIO Political Director Merri Berry at 314-420-8095.




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