By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – Fifty-five worker-related bills were pre-filed for the Missouri Legislature’s session that started Jan. 3, including 10 that would eliminate or curtail prevailing wage laws.
With many state legislators facing election later this year and beholden to big money, anti-worker corporate donors bent on robbing workers of their rights, they are doing everything they can to prove they are sufficiently pro-business and anti-worker to keep the campaign donations coming. They know what they have to do, and it doesn’t involve helping working people.
“Here we are, once again, with the donors and the cronies of the corporate, big money anti-worker state reps and state senators doing everything they can in what is, hopefully, their last chance desperation to get more for corporations and less for workers,” said Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.
THE ‘RTW’ FACTOR
Last year’s passage of anti-worker, anti-union “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation initiated a workers’ wave with volunteers fanning out across the state, collecting 310,567 signatures to halt implementation of the phony anti-worker legislation until voters have a chance to vote on it this year. The measure will appear on the ballot as Proposition A.
While the signature gathering effort was a huge success, the campaign to educate workers and all voters about the harm “right-to-work” will have on working people is just beginning.
Corporate-funded dark money groups are already dumping millions of dollars into false advertisements and bogus campaigns to mislead Missouri voters about the true impact of RTW, and the Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature isn’t letting up.
“Their corporate donors know working people are going to turn out in this year’s elections and they want to take everything they can from them before that happens,” Louis said
“We’re going to turn back ‘right-to-work,’” he said. “And we’re, hopefully, going to show some of these state reps and senators the door. But they’re not going to go quietly. They’re going to try to hurt us in every way they can to make their donors happy, without any regard to the working people who will pay the price.”
Here are the bills that the Missouri AFL-CIO has identified as critical in this year’s session. This list will be updated throughout the legislation session.
• HB 1270 – Filed by Rep. Bill Lant (R-Pineville), allows any county to exempt political subdivisions and public colleges and universities from the prevailing wage law.
• HB 1271 – Filed by Rep. Lant, establishes the School Construction Act, which exempts construction and maintenance work for certain school districts from prevailing wage requirements with the school board’s approval.
• HB 1272 – Filed by Rep. Lant, allows public bodies to opt out of prevailing wage laws for public works projects that are $750,000 or less.
• HB 1293 – Filed by Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) and HB 1436, filed by Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola) – Repeal provisions relating to prevailing wages on public works
• HB 1313 – Filed by Rep. Bill White (R-Joplin), prohibits the Missouri Housing Development Commission from requiring a prevailing wage on a project for a housing tax credit.
• HB 1561– Filed by Rep. Allen Andrews (R-Grant City), exempts third and fourth class counties from prevailing wage laws.
• HB 1562 – Filed by Rep. Andrews, exempts third and fourth class counties from prevailing wage laws for public works projects less than $500,000.
• HB 1594 – Filed by Rep. Charlie Davis (R-Webb City), allows municipalities to opt out of the state’s prevailing wage law.
• SB 555 – Filed by Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) and SB 609, filed by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) – Repeal prevailing wage.
• SB 599 – Filed by Sen. Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) and SB 688, filed by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville) – Modify prevailing wage.
LABOR ORGANIZATIONS, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
• HB 1577 – Filed by Rep. John Wiemann (R-O’Fallon), changes laws relating to labor organizations. (No further information was available.)
• SB 602 – Filed by Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis), creates new provisions relating to public sector collective bargaining, requiring annual consent for paycheck withholding of union dues and other fees, annual filing of constitution, bylaws, membership and financial information with the Department of Labor, filing of financial interest statements by every union officer and employee and biennial recertification elections, among other changes.
• SB 771 – Filed by Sen. Hoskins, creates new provisions regulating the use of payroll deduction options for public employees.
• HB 1397 – Filed by Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial), prohibits political subdivisions from requiring employers to alter or adjust any employee scheduling unless required by state or federal law. This bill would essentially allow supermarkets and retailers to say their employees are on-call, requiring them to come in whenever they are called, whether they were scheduled or not.
• HB 1409 – Filed by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob), modifies the duration of unemployment compensation, modifies the method to pay federal advances, and raises the fund trigger causing contribution rate reductions.
• SB 601 – Filed by Sen. Schatz, modifies provisions relating to maximum medical fees under workers’ compensation laws.
• HB 1512 – Filed by Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City), changes the Uniform Arbitration Act regarding agreements between employers and at-will employees.
• HB 1474 – Filed by Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), eliminates tenure for new employees at public colleges and universities and specifies information the institutions must make available to the public.
• SB 618 – Filed by Rep. Bill Eigel (R-Weldon Spring), modifies provisions related to charter schools
• SB 688 – Filed by Sen. Onder, requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to report certain information relating to virtual education.
• HB 1289 – Filed by Rep. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), modifies provisions for ballot initiatives and referendums.
• HJR 48 – Filed by Rep. Dan Stacy (R-Blue Springs), changes constitutional provisions regarding ballot initiatives and referendums.
IN SUPPORT OF WORKING PEOPLE
Sen. Jacob Hummel (D-St. Louis) (IBEW Local 1) and Rep. Doug Beck (D-Affton) (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562) have both filed worker-positive legislation for this session. However, only one of the three bills has any real chance of progressing.
• SB 620 – Filed by Sen. Hummel, modifies the Missouri Human Rights Statute and creates new provisions relating to unlawful discriminatory practices.
This measure would repeal last year’s discriminatory legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens that required discrimination in employment or housing based on age, ancestry, color, disability, sex, religion, race, or nation of origin to be “the” motivating factor in order to prove discrimination. Sen. Hummel’s bill would change the standard to be “a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate.”
• HB 1277 – Filed by Rep. Beck, repeals the law (RTW) that specifies a person cannot be required to become or refrain from becoming a member of or paying dues to a labor organization as a condition or continuation of employment. (See related story.)
• HB 1280 – Filed by Rep. Beck, would repeal a law passed last year banning local governments from entering into Project Labor Agreements.
Neither HB 1277 nor HB 1280 are expected to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House.
However, SB 620 might gain traction in the Senate because the current law making it more difficult to prove workplace and housing discrimination has resulted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development threatening to pull an estimated $500,000 annually in funds connected to the Fair Housing Assistance Program if the Legislature does not repeal problem parts of the law by March 1, 2018.