U.S. senator addresses new Missouri anti-worker law during Facebook Live town hall meeting
By SHERI GASSAWAY
In her first Facebook Live town hall meeting, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-St. Louis) responded to a question about a new state law that has many Missourians confused and rightly so: “right to work.”
McCaskill said she was unable to hold a physical town hall meeting during the first weeklong recess of the new Congress because of prior obligations. So, she opted for the social media event, which included a live question and answer session with viewers.
One of those questions was “How will the new “right-to-work” law affect workers in Missouri?” While “right to work” may sound positive, it’s one of the most misleading, inaccurate and deceptive phrases ever.
RTW: A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
“It’s a simple answer,” McCaskill said. “They’re going to make less money, and it will drive down wages. It’s like a race to the bottom.”
McCaskill said people need to understand the economic value of having jobs that pay more than minimum wage. She said that’s when people can afford to buy things, and it is that economic activity that is the foundation of the U.S. economy.
HIGHER WAGES ARE BETTER FOR ECONOMY
“When people make less money, they can’t afford a new washer and dryer, a second car or a vacation to Branson, which is a city many workers rely on tourism to keep them employed,” she said. “It’s a cyclical effect. We need to be raising wages, and that’s what unions have been good for in the past.”
McCaskill explained that a union is not a “mystery;” it’s the ability of workers to come together and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.
“Right to work” (for less) injects the government directly in labor-management negotiations by telling the company what it cannot negotiate – a labor contract that first must be accepted by the workers themselves requiring everyone covered by the contract to either pay dues or a ‘fair share fee’ that covers the cost of the union representation they receive.
“I think it (the new law) is a mistake,” McCaskill said. “We need to be increasing the wages of working people. And many families are working hard, but they’re not getting ahead so this is another kick in the shin for them.”
The new law is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28. However, the Missouri AFL-CIO is planning to launch a Citizen Referendum campaign to stop the anti-worker law in its tracks.
The organization is in the process of obtaining final approval on the referendum petition from Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. In an effort to slow the campaign’s momentum, Ashcroft on Feb. 21 rejected the original petition submitted by the Missouri AFL-CIO saying part of it were not “properly underlined.” The petition has since been resubmitted.
If the petition is signed by more 160,000 registered voters by Aug. 27, it would require a statewide vote in 2018 on the “right-to-work” law before it could take effect. If the measure is approved by the voters, the new law cannot be implemented. However, the issue could be brought up for consideration again in the next legislative session.