The man who professes to want to change the culture in Jefferson City, and has frankly made no concrete gestures at doing that, has turned his back on more than tens of thousands of Missouri working families, union and non-union alike, without as much as a real conversation about why he might not want to do that.
A few clear-cut examples:
ON PROTECTING YOUR JOB
Despite many efforts of the Missouri top AFL-CIO labor leadership to meet with the new governor to discuss the “workers’ side” of the so-called “right-to-work” issue, Governor Eric simply refused to meet before he signed this terrible anti-worker law! He did send a staffer to meet after the bill was passed, but it was only a perfunctory gesture. The Missouri AFL-CIO represents more than a quarter of a million Missouri workers and the governor wouldn’t meet with its leadership to hear the workers’ view on how RTW will hurt all workers as well as the state’s economy the governor professes to want to move forward.
ON CLEANING THE SWAMP
During his campaign, he pledged to clean up Jefferson City, which he called a “corrupt, do-nothing embarrassment.” And where has that gone?
• Ethics legislation has stalled on the simplest of cleanups: banning lobbyists’ gifts (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars last year for trips, dinners, gifts, etc.) and preventing departing legislators from becoming lobbyists for at least two years. No action! Gov. Eric has been pretty silent on pushing these issues.
• But wait, legislators are pointing the finger back at the governor telling him to first look in the mirror. His campaign created a new secret dark money nonprofit group — A New Missouri, Inc. run by his senior advisor — that has accepted almost $2 million and refused to disclosure the donors. And it was revealed last week that this nonprofit has been lobbying for legislation, but isn’t registered to lobby as required by law. Want to guess who ponied up? Gov. Eric won’t even talk about it!
ON EARNING A DECENT WAGE
With St. Louis and Kansas City now requiring employers to pay a more reasonable minimum wage (it’s still not a livable wage, but better than before), and the new wages now in paychecks helping pull workers a bit more out of poverty, the Republicans stepped in to ban cities from making that decision. The legislation is sitting on Gov. Eric’s desk waiting for his signature. I’m betting on him signing it, impacting 69,000 workers in St. Louis alone who will see their wages decline. The loss will be staggering. An estimated $29 million additional dollars are expected to flow into workers’ pockets in the city between the May 5 start of the increase and Aug. 28 when the rollback, if the Governor signs it, is slated to take effect.
ON KEEPING THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK
Gov. Eric has not held an open question-and-answer news conference since taking office Jan. 9! He even had a lock installed on his spokesman’s office to limit reporter access. Can’t have those pesky reporters asking “why?”
Lobbyists and corporations paid for Gov. Eric’s inaugural ball, costing who knows how many millions, but he won’t provide an accounting of who paid how much.
And while he’s saving the state a few shekels by not using the state’s airplane for trips, he is using private corporate airplanes provided by “donors.” Again, no public accounting of whose buying influence with Gov. Eric. Five trips to Washington, D.C. and a visit to a Trump-owned resort have been among his destinations.
LACK OF POLITICAL COURAGE
Why all the secrecy and kowtowing to the corporations and the rich?
Gov. Eric wants to be president of the United States. He’s already locked up his “Greitens for President” campaign committee name.
That means he’ll need lots of money.
It’s clear by his actions Gov. Eric doesn’t have the political courage to turn his back on his multimillionaire, anti-worker dark-money funders who someday will be called on to fund his presidential campaign.
So, despite his campaign rhetoric to work for Missouri’s workers, he’s really working for, and kissing the asses of, the companies and wealthy individuals that will fuel his personal political ambitions.
Tragically, it also means that St. Louis and Kansas City minimum wage workers are going to lose their new-found wages, that real ethics reform will never get passed, that Gov. Eric will never fight for you and I, the families of Missouri who can’t fund his political ego.
We thought a Navy SEAL would have the courage to stand up for what’s right. “To serve with Honor and Integrity on and off the battlefield” is part of the Navy SEAL’s code.
Not having the courage to first meet with the top Missouri AFL-CIO leaders on RTW and other pieces of anti-worker legislation and then not vetoing the RTW bill when it came to him, not vetoing the minimum wage destruction bill that will take family-feeding monies from already underpaid workers, and not being honest about who is funding his ambitions, defiles the SEAL’s code of honor.
In the end, by not standing up for workers, a great many of whom supported him and will now be hurt by him, is nothing less than political cowardice.
BUT ERIC, IT’S NOT OVER YET
As sad as Missouri politics is today, the fight’s not over.
A strong Citizens Initiative Petition signature gathering campaign underway hopefully will put the RTW issue to a public vote in 2018. If you haven’t signed yet, check you Labor Tribune for dates and locations (see Page ???)
Getting enough signatures on the petition to force the statewide vote will send a strong message to our opportunistic governor and the Republican-controlled legislature:
“We’re fed up and we’re not going to take it anymore.”