Fate of 13,000 state workers to have a union before state Supreme Court

Continues Republican efforts to destroy unions

The right of almost 13,500 public employees working in state government to be protected by a union contract went before the Missouri Supreme Court for a final decision on a law signed by disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens to make all workers “at will” employees subject to the whim of their employer.

The law, passed in 2018 was put on hold in 2019 by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Breetem who wrote that the anti-union law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Greitens “eviscerated” the collective bargaining process that had been in place and was “unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”

The original issue revolved around the Missouri Corrections Officers Association after the state refused to renegotiate an expired contract. The judge accused the state of trying to break the union.

The state has now taken the issue before the Supreme Court to destroy the ability of all unions to negotiate contract for state workers. AFSCME, SEIU Local 1 and CWA Local 6355 represent the bulk of state workers.

If the law is allowed to go into effect, the impact on state workers, who will no longer be able to unionize, will be catastrophic. It would:

  • Alter the state’s merit system making it easier to hire, fire, discipline and reward workers.
  • Remove testing requirements to quality for jobs. Currently, employees are hired based on their performance on standardized tests, rather than their allegiance to a particular politician or political party.
  • Kill any appeals and grievance processes for merit system employees fighting inappropriate discipline or firing.

That union protections are desperately needed is evident in the high rate of turnover now in state government forcing some state agencies to showdown.

Under Republican Gov. Mike Parsons, the state has refused negotiations with any unions once their current contract expires hoping the Grietens’ law can be enforced.

Results will be reported in your Labor Tribune as they become available.

This isn’t the first time the Republican-controlled state government has tried to destroy the ability of workers to have a union to fight for their wages, benefits and rights.

Previous efforts included the legislature’s failed efforts to:

  • Pass a phony “right-to-work (for less) law which voters sounding rejected in 2018. However, Republicans continue efforts to find ways to back-door that law into existence.
  • Enact a mis-named “paycheck protection” (make that “deception”) law to prevent public employee unions from spending dues monies on political issues, force them to hold frequent authorizing elections.
  • Slash unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to eight.
  • Introducing more than 100 bills that would negatively impact workers’ rights.

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