Partial victory could be undone with another roll call vote
By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – Despite relentless pressure from national conservative front groups, anti-worker right-to-work (RTW) legislation in the Missouri House failed to get the necessary votes April 9 to advance to Senate, but the reprieve may be temporary.
The House Republican leadership, eager to appease their corporate paymasters, were expected to bring the measure (HB1770) up for another roll call vote. With only four more votes needed to advance the bill to the Senate, the pressure was on to stop this unfair, unjust and unneeded legislation.
Union members and all working people in Missouri were urged to call their representatives at 888-825-1418 and urge them to vote “No” on this deceptive, destructive anti-worker legislation.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafted legislation was exposed as the deceptive and destructive anti-worker fraud that it is.
Many members of the Missouri House and Senate are members of ALEC including House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), who is ALEC’s state co-chair, and deeply dedicated to its corporate-moneyed interests.
LAST WEEK’S VOTE
The Missouri Constitution requires a constitutional majority for final passage of a bill. HB1770 was “perfected” by a vote of 78-68 vote, but needs 82 votes before it can be advanced to the Senate.
A significant block of Republican leaders stood with Democratic representatives to stop the bill, voting “No” or “Present” or “taking a walk” when the vote was held to prevent the bill from advancing.
Speaker Jones and Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, another ALEC leader, were defeated by an impressive bipartisan alliance of Representatives who stood with working families and against ALEC, the Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist and other national conservative front groups driving the anti-worker measure.
“An extreme agenda won’t rebuild struggling communities,” Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades said. “That takes the hard work of skilled Missouri workers.”
Mike Louis, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, called the vote “a major wake-up call to the extremists who have been pushing this divisive agenda at the expense of Missouri’s middle class.”
Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri, said the vote demonstrated that “Missourians on both sides of the aisle realize that attacking workers on behalf of Wall Street extremists is wrong for Missouri.”
House Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), a member of IBEW Local 1, accused Republicans of working on behalf of “out-of-state interests,” noting – without naming them – the entrance into the debate in recent weeks by national conservative groups like FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union, and Grover Norqist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
“Missouri has become ground zero in a national effort by out-of-state interests to silence workers voices and ensure the balance of power between CEO’s and workers are tipped in a direction that ensure that profits come before people,” he said. “This is being pushed by out of state groups that could care less how hard it is to pay the bills each month.”
Hummel cited the fallacy of RTW proponents’ arguments that RTW would make Missouri more attractive to businesses.
Companies like General Motors and Express Scripts recently expanded in Missouri, he said, without the anti-worker law.
Passing RTW has been a top priority this session for Speaker Jones, but last week’s vote showed not all Republicans are on board with the idea.
Nineteen Republicans joined the entire Democratic House caucus in voting "no" on HB1770.
One of the strongest critics was St. Charles Republican Anne Zerr, chair of the House Committee on Economic Development.
Zerr spoke against RTW at the Missouri State Building & Construction Trades Council’s “Stand Up for Missouri’s Middle Class” rally March 26 in Jefferson City.
"Working with labor is good business practice," Zerr said. "Companies that work well with labor are surviving and prospering companies; and take heart, because there's more and more of us on the Republican side that are realizing that it's important to work with labor and (that) labor is not the enemy."
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a steadfast opponent of RTW and other anti-worker legislation, called the vote “a victory for Missouri working families and a setback for the out-of-state ideologues and
special interests trying to attack them.
“At a time when we should be focused on policies that create jobs and move our state forward, this misguided political maneuver would take us backward by undermining workers and weakening our economy. I will continue to stand on the side of the hard-working men and women of Missouri as we work together to build a brighter, more prosperous future for our state.”
Even if the House passes HB1770 this week, the Senate must also pass the legislation before it is put on the ballot.
That may be difficult as Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), has expressed reservations about the measure and Senate Democrats would almost certainly filibuster.
Missouri voters last considered RTW in 1978, overwhelmingly defeating the measure.
What is right-to-work?
Right-to-work (RTW) grants no rights and generates no work.
What it does is inject state government into the negotiating process between workers and employers.
Under federal law workers cannot be forced to join a union but labor unions must negotiate on behalf of all employees in a bargaining unit. Employees who aren’t in the union don’t have to pay dues but must pay fees to cover the cost of representation.
RTW would allow non-union members to receive all the benefits of the union and the union-negotiated contract, without paying their fair share of the cost. The union’s resources are thus diminished, making it harder to represent workers or support worker-friendly candidates.
RTW takes away the voice of workers in the workplace and in politics. That is its ultimate goal.