Missouri’s corporate-owned legislature is trying to gut the state’s Labor Movement
By TIM ROWDEN
Missouri’s corporate-owned legislature fired on Labor with both barrels during its last week, passing a last-minute flurry of legislation designed to silence workers, lower wages and erase job protections.
On the last two days of the regular legislature session, May 17-18, legislators:
• Moved the date of the Prop. A (RTW) vote from the Nov. 6 general election to the Aug. 7 primary, when traditionally fewer voters turnout to the polls. Proposition A will not create more jobs. In fact, it will drive down wages. But Missouri legislators moved the election date in a cynical attempt to ensure its passage. The message was clear, if you work for a living, Missouri’s corporate-owned legislature wants you to work for less. Protect your pay, get registered to vote and Vote “NO” on Prop. A.
• Rammed through Paycheck Deception for public-sector workers in a bill that not only requires unions to get annual permission from workers to withhold dues from paychecks, it also requires that public-sector to hold recertification elections every three years, and makes picketing a fireable offense.
• Made state employees “at will,” meaning they can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all.
• Gutted Prevailing Wage for public works projects costing less than $75,000.
Worker-friendly legislators – of whom there are woefully few – and union member lawmakers – among them Senator Gina Walsh (Heat & Frost Insulators Local 1 retired), Senator Jake Hummel (IBEW Local 1), Rep. Doug Beck (Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562), Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis) Rep. Karla May (CWA Local 6300) and Rep. Clem Smith (Operating Engineers Local 399) – did their best to filibuster or lessen the impact of these measures, but the sad truth is they are outnumbered.
Elections have consequences and the 2016 election, which gave Republicans a supermajority in both the state House and Senate, stacked the deck against working families and unions.
Social media, in particular Facebook, became a sounding board as the session wound to a close.
St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White (Gas Workers 11-6) summed up the disastrous week in a post on Facebook:
“This week your legislative bodies crippled working men and women. They passed paycheck deception, removed prevailing wage, and made state employees…‘at will’ …which basically means they have to grovel for pay (they are already the LOWEST paid in the country) and can be fired for anything minus discrimination (being gay is not part of that discrimination). In states with no prevailing wage, out-of-state contractors reaped 40 percent more work (see Wisconsin 2016), so… get ready to see more building your schools and city halls with little to no training in the trade and little to no accountability with safety training…. I am disgusted and you should be too. This isn’t a union thing. This is a human decency thing.”
‘WE NEED HELP’
Ironically, one of the overriding messages on Facebook was this: liking posts, tweeting and ranting online will not change a thing unless we get out and canvas against RTW and for worker-friendly candidates.
And unless we all register and VOTE. Registration deadline is July 11.
“It is nice to hear ‘thank you’ and ‘keep up the fight,’ but the truth is we (Democrats) need help!” Rep. Beck said in a post. “Step up and help candidates by knocking doors, making phone calls and writing checks. We can’t win by complaining online or at the break table. We need to get active! If you want your children to have a better future in Missouri, we need to change the direction of this state now!”
If you’re not registered to vote, or are not sure if you’re registered, you can register or re-register online at sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register.
Then, get to your Labor Club and meet the candidates. Volunteer to knock on doors for them, put up yard signs, make phone calls and, if you can, write a check. Good candidates can’t win without your support.
We have to step up, every one of us together, to win. Nobody else can do it for us. If you don’t like what’s happening in Jefferson City, the time to do something about it is now.