In light of numerous attacks on Missouri workers over the last two years and motivated by a desire for change and a voice for workers in state politics, four union representatives are running for seats in the Missouri House.
The representatives are: Karen Settlemoir-Berg, UFCW Local 655; Travis Barnes, Iron Workers Local 396; Jack Schiiligo, St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council; and Del Viehland, Teamsters Local 682.
Last year, a contentious right-to-work bill vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon was narrowly defeated, and this year a paycheck deception bill, also vetoed by Nixon, hangs in limbo. These union reps want to give Missouri workers a voice at the state level.
Karen Settlemoir-Berg has filed for the District 113 seat, which represents parts of Arnold, Imperial, Barnhart, Pevely and House Springs. Settlemoir-Berg, of Imperial, has been a member of UFCW Local 655 since 1985 and has served as a union representative the last five years.
Settlemoir-Berg is running to unseat first-term Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial). Shaul’s reputation in the district has plummeted since he mislead his own constituents about how he would vote on issues impacting working people like right-to-work and paycheck deception.
In a meeting with several union member constituents in his district last summer, Shaul assured hard-working people he would stand firm and vote against overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of RTW. Less than two weeks later, Shaul flip-flopped and voted to override the Governor after he was pressured by the Missouri Grocers Association, where he serves as state director.
“Representative Shaul flat-out lied to me and other constituents and decided to bend his knee to a special interest group that didn’t elect him,” Settlemoir-Berg told the Labor Tribune last month. “His actions show he represents the grocers in the state capitol, not the many hard-working men and women of the 113th district.”
Travis Barnes is running in District 117, which covers portions of Bonne Terre, Park Hills and Farmington in St. Francois County. Rep. Linda Black (R-Park Hills), a longtime friend of working families who was elected in 2008, has been term limited.
Barnes, of Park Hills, is a member of Iron Workers Local 396. He has been with the union for 20 years and currently serves as vice president. As a state representative, Barnes said one of his key objectives would stopping the attacks against the middle class. Noting that economic expansion for the community “is a must,” Barnes said he would be diligent at finding ways to bring business to the district.
“I have grown up in the 117th District,” Barnes stated on his campaign Facebook page. “You are my family, my friends and my community, and I promise to be as hard a worker in the House of Representatives as I am in the field as an Ironworker.”
Jack Schilligo is running for the District 89 seat, which represents portions of Chesterfield, Des Peres, Frontenac, Huntleigh, Kirkwood, Ladue and Town & Country in West St. Louis County. He will be running against Rep. Dean Plotcher (R-Clayton) who was elected to the seat in May 2015 after John Diehl resigned amid allegations of inappropriate text messages exchanged with an intern.
Schilligo, of Chesterfield, has been a member of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council for 25 years. He is also a member of the St. Louis Association of Realtors and is an independent real estate broker.
“We must accord organized labor and working families the dignity and respect they have earned, as they built the middle class in our state and across America, he stated on his website. “I will continue to vote against any right-to-work for less legislation and any attempts to remove or cripple Missouri’s prevailing wage laws.”
He said he would also put middle class economic needs first and would work to give Missouri businesses the first crack at state contracts, “so we can keep our jobs and tax dollars at home.”
Del Viehland is running for the District 111 seat, which includes portions of House Springs, Cedar Hill and Dittmer in Jefferson County. The seat currently is held by Rep. Shane Roden (R-Cedar Hill).
Roden was one of 20 Republican legislators who stood with Missouri working families in sustaining Gov. Nixon’s veto of last year’s right-to-work legislation. However, he voted for the disingenuous paycheck deception measure approved by the House in February, and voted with the House majority last week to override Nixon’s veto of the measure.
Viehland, of Cedar Hill, has been a member of Teamster Local 682 for 41 years and is currently retired. He said he’s always been involved in politics and serves as a lobbyist on behalf of the Teamsters.
He is also a board member of the Cedar Hill Peace Pantry and a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Central Committee and the House Springs Lion’s Club.
Viehland announced that he was running for the seat at the last Jefferson County Labor Club meeting and told members he would fight to protect the district’s working families as a state representative.