By TIM ROWDEN
Missouri State Senator Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, visited members of the South St. Louis Labor Club with an update on working Missourians’ battle to repeal so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) and a roundup of the recently concluded AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis, where Missouri Labor leaders shared the incredible story of how union volunteers and average working Missourians collected 310,567 signatures – more than three times the number needed – in all eight of Missouri’s congressional districts – a first for an initiative petition effort in Missouri – to place the deceptive, anti-worker law on the 2018 ballot for voters to decide.
But the fight is not over, Hummel warned the packed house of union members at Genesis Banquet Center in south St. Louis County.
REGISTERING MEMBERS TO VOTE
“This is going to be a long campaign,” Hummel said, noting the need to educate rank-and-file union members about the harm this deceptive anti-worker law will have on their jobs and their ability to support their families and to make sure that union members and their eligible family members are registered to vote.
Based on surveys and research conducted by the Missouri AFL-CIO, Hummel said, only 78 percent of Missouri union members, and only 43 percent of their spouses are registered to vote.
“We have to do a little bit better job registering people to vote,” Hummel said. “That’s something we have to work on.”
AUGUST OR NOVEMBER BALLOT
Although the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and local election authorities are still verifying the petition signatures, Hummel said he was confident there will be enough to place the measure on the ballot. At question is whether it will be on the ballot in August or November.
The ballot language on the petition specifically called for a November 2018 vote, but Hummel said the Republican-led Missouri Legislature could tinker with it, allowing Governor Eric Greitens to put the measure on the ballot in August primary election rather than the November general election.
“We hope that doesn’t happen,” Hummel said, adding that moving the election date would be a gamble for Republican legislators.
Moving the election to August would almost certainly result in a lopsided turnout by union members and RTW opponents, Hummel said. But leaving the election on the November ballot would mean legislators who are up for re-election will have to face many of the same voters they hurt by passing RTW.
PLEDGE TO VOTE ‘NO,’ GET INVOLVED
Volunteers with We Are Missouri are currently circulating pledge cards urging union members and other registered voters to pledge to vote “No” on RTW and commit to helping however they can to stop the anti-union, anti-worker measure from becoming law. Those who sign the pledge cards will receive a reminder to turn out and vote “No” before the election.
The Koch Brothers, backers of the notoriously anti-worker pro-RTW Americans For Prosperity, have already pledged to spend millions to try to stop the RTW repeal effort and have already paid for a series of deceptive mailers to Missouri voters.
“We can’t outspend the Koch Brothers,” Hummel said. “That’s fine. They’ve got the money, but we’ve got the people and they don’t.”
To get involved in the campaign to defeat RTW, visit We Are MO at wearemo.org and click the “Get Involved” tab at the top of the page.
SUPPORT OTHER BALLOT MEASURES
One way to ensure RTW is defeated at the polls, Hummel said, is to help gathering petition signatures for two other initiatives to raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour and place the CLEAN Missouri ethics reform measure on the 2018 ballot.
“One of the best ways we can stop RTW is to get these two issues on the ballot,” Hummel said. “That’s going to help us because the people that are going to turn out to vote to raise the minimum wage and clean up Missouri politics are going to vote to defeat RTW.”
For more information and to get involved in the CLEAN Missouri initiative, visit CleanMissouri.org.
To volunteer or learn more about the effort to raise Missouri’s minimum wage, contact Missouri Jobs with Justice policy director Richard von Glahn at Richard@mojwj.org or 314-540-2049.