Some Republicans are cooperating with Dems to stop anti-worker bills


State Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay), gets credit from Democrats in the senate for his cooperation in regard to legislation affecting working families. This delegation of United Food and Commercial Workers with Local 655 had a good exchange of views with him. From left, the Local 655 members are Mike Kueller, a steward at Schnucks and Linda Jantti, a steward at Shop’n Save. At right is Garry Torpea, director of collective bargaining for Local 655.

Jefferson City–
Unlike other states where anti-worker, anti-union measures have been adopted by Republican legislatures and governors, those same issues have been met with cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in Missouri. The cooperation has prevented similar measures from advancing in Missouri’s legislature.

At the Labor Solidarity Rally and the annual AFL-CIO Joint Legislative Conference last week in Jefferson City, thousands of building tradesmen, and members of industrial, service and retail trades from across Missouri, got some encouraging news from legislative leaders in that bills to promote right-to-work (for less) and paycheck deception (a bill to prohibit automatic withdrawal of union dues) have been put on the back burner and aren’t expected to pass.

A bill that would weaken the state’s prevailing wage is still being debated in the state Senate. There was some hope that it too might be tabled for the year. The session ends May 20.

Gov. Jay Nixon and Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis County) both spoke at the labor rally and acknowledged support from Republicans in both houses of the legislature who have given them help in fighting the anti-worker bills.

Green, who is also president of the Missouri Building Trades Council, said Missouri has fared better than some other states in battling the current anti-union, anti-worker initiatives. He attributed the success of the Senate in stopping right-to-work (for less) and other anti-worker bills to working relationships he and other Democratic legislators have established with a minority of Republican lawmakers.

“You cannot group all Republicans as anti-worker,” Green said.

“The success in defeating some of the anti-worker legislation could not have been accomplished without the help of some sympathetic Republicans which have forged relationships with some of their Democratic colleagues. These Republican colleagues have had the courage to stand up against their leadership and fight with us. Those individuals should be recognized and supported.”

Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence), the Senate Democratic Floor Leader, recognized some Republican legislators, including Sen. Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis) for standing up against the anti-worker measures. “Not all Republicans are bad,” he said.

Other Republicans who have stood up against their leadership to fight anti-worker measures include Republican Floor Leader Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Peters), Sen. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), Sen. John Lamping (R-Ladue), and Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Kirkwood).

On the House side representatives who have sided with labor on key votes include Rep. Anne Zerr (R-St. Charles), Rep. John Diehl (R-Town and Country) and Speaker of the House Rep. Steve Tilley (R-Farmington), who has helped on several occasions to slow down anti-worker bills.

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