By TIM ROWDEN
Earth City, MO – With union-hating Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at his side, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a bill banning local governments from entering into Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).
The so-called “Fairness in Public Construction Act” – another blatant attack on unions, made all the more obvious by Walker’s presence at the signing – bans PLAs, which require contractors to pay union wages and abide by collective bargaining agreements for public works projects. Under the law, Missouri’s cities and counties will lose state funding or tax credits for two years if they require a PLA.
Walker, who has waged a relentless war against unions in his own state, signed a PLA ban in Wisconsin in April.
“Governor Greitens wants you to believe this is about saving tax dollars, but the presence of Scott Walker at the signing makes clear this is union busting, plain and simple,” said Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.
“Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest for job creation,” Louis said. “Since 2010, Governor Walker has failed to deliver the 250,000 jobs he promised. Why Missouri would follow the lead of Wisconsin is a mystery. Missourians want our elected leaders to focus on building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
“This is more government overreach from a governor and House and Senate full of legislators who ran as candidates saying we need less government, who now are enacting more and more overreach into business and local government at the expense of working families,” Louis said.
PLAs ensure a safe, trained workforce on public construction projects like schools, roads and bridges by guaranteeing quality, on-time work on a tight budget, Louis noted. They protect the public investment by weeding out unqualified contractors and keeping projects on schedule, with fewer injured workers and no strikes or work disputes.
“Now, thanks to Governor Greitens and certain Republicans in the Missouri Legislature, local governments will no longer have that tool to ensure safe, quality work on our public buildings and infrastructure,” Louis said, “and we all will pay the price.”
“This is a slap in the face to trained union workers and the safety and investment of Missouri taxpayers,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, whose member unions will take a direct hit from the ban. “It threatens the safety of workers and the quality of construction on our public buildings. And it will cost Missouri taxpayers more when that construction has to be repaired or replaced.
“Our governor and our Legislature think the way to cure all of the state’s ills is to take it out on the backs of workers, but they’re hurting the very people they were elected to represent,” Stiffler said.
PLAYING TO A NATIONAL AUDIENCE
Walker’s presence at last week’s bill signing seemed to indicate Greitens is performing more for a national audience than for the people of Missouri.
Walker is chair of the Republican Governors Association, the national Republican organization that held the “corporate policy summit” at a Trump resort in Miami that Greitens attended last month.
The Kansas City Star reports Greitens has made several trips to Washington to meet with members of President Donald Trump’s administration and to attend the ritzy Alfalfa Club Dinner, an event the Washington Post describes as a gathering of “some of the richest and most powerful people in the world.”
Stephen Webber, chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said Walker’s invitation to the signing “only serves to show that Greitens is attacking local workers in order to impress big money and corporate donors from around the country.”
Greitens is widely considered to be eying a possible run for president and has already reserved the political website domain EricGreitensForPresident.com.
The PLA ban is just the latest anti-worker legislation to come out of Jefferson City:
• Greitens signed so-called “right-to-work” legislation in February. The anti-worker, anti-union law is set to take effect Aug. 28, but workers across the state are circulating a Citizens’ Referendum petition that would prevent it from taking effect and allow voters to decide the issue in 2018.
• Last month, the Missouri Senate passed legislation repealing the minimum wage increase recently enacted in the City of St. Louis and blocking a similar increase in Kansas City.
• The Missouri House also passed legislation making it more difficult to prove workplace and housing discrimination. That shameful bill was sponsored by a Republican Senator who owns a rent-to-own business that’s being sued for discrimination.
• Other anti-worker legislation left on the table as the Legislature ended its session last month include a “paycheck protection” (paycheck deception) bill, requiring public employees to opt in each year for union dues to be taken out of their paychecks.
• Repeal of Missouri’s prevailing wage law.
Those measures could come to pass this summer, if Greitens calls additional special sessions of the Legislature, which he has indicated he might do.