As the Citizens’ Referendum campaign to repeal so-called “right-to-work” in Missouri gets under way, we’re working to keep working families updated and shine a light on some of the individuals helping to make sure Missouri voters have the final say on this unfair, anti-worker law passed by politicians in Jefferson City.
We’re pleased to begin this series with Lori Giannini, a regional petition director for the St. Louis area, and a proud member of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655.
Giannini has worked at the Schnucks in Cottleville for 12 years and has served as the store’s shop steward for the past five. She’s an experienced spokesperson and advocate, having run a campaign field office, worked on signature campaigns and testified in Jefferson City on the devastating consequences for workers of so-called “right-to-work” legislation.
Giannini is managing staff from locals throughout the St. Louis region, as well as recruiting volunteers to work as petitioners to gather signatures throughout the metro area.
EXPLAINING ‘RTW’ TO VOTERS
While Giannini loves recruiting and organizing petitioners for the campaign, she’s thoughtful about the challenges of explaining the process to voters.
When talking with voters outside of the Labor community, she focuses on what the signature-gathering process is really about – voters making their voices heard:
“I don’t ask voters, ‘Do you believe in ‘right-to-work?’ What I ask them is ‘Do you believe that it should be the right of the people of the state of Missouri to vote on whether or not they want ‘right-to-work’ in their lives – rather than leaving it up to the politicians in Jefferson City.”
She continues, “When it affects my rights, I want it on the ballot. I want my voice to be heard. This is about OUR right to make OUR voices heard on the ballot in 2018.”
After signing the petition, voters who aren’t familiar with so-called “right-to-work” often have more questions for Giannini and her team. She welcomes the chance to continue the conversation.
“I’ll ask them: ‘Do you like having good-paying jobs in your state? Do you like having a nice, comfortable middle-class life? Do you want to be able to go on vacations? If so, then you really don’t want ‘right-to-work.’ ” Giannini said.
“If you look at ‘right-to-work’ states that neighbor us…their households earn about $6,000 less a year,” Giannini said. “That’s important for voters to hear.”
FOR MISSOURI’S FUTURE
As a veteran of several legislative fights and countless mediations, Giannini has a deep understanding of what so-called “right-to-work’ means for Missouri’s future.
“I’m not just looking out for myself as to what’s going to happen in this state – I have children and grandchildren that this will eventually affect,” she said. “What are they going to be able to earn to make a living to support their families? There’s so many different aspects of ‘right-to-work’ that are so bad for families. Voters need to hear that.
“I’m born and bred Missouri. I’m proud of our state, and I want to stay that way.”