By TIM ROWDEN
Ten million dollars. That’s what union hater David Humphreys, president and CEO of Joplin-based TAMKO Building Products, and his family have spent this year trying to make Missouri a so-called “right-to-work” state.
$10 million to drive down wages.
$10 million to weaken unions.
It’s roughly the same amount as a grant awarded to Washington University recently for pancreatic cancer research.
That juxtaposition was not lost on Jake Hummel, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, who highlighted the two numbers at the biennial convention of the state federation in Kansas City, MO.
“$10 million because someone hates us that much,” Hummel said.
Humphreys and his sister, Sarah Humphreys Atkins, contributed $1 million last week to Republican attorney general candidate Josh Hawley of Columbia. Atkins also wrote a $1 million check to a political action committee that has worked to oust lawmakers who oppose so-called “right-to-work” laws.
Two weeks ago Humphreys dumped another $500,000 into the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens, who has vowed to sign so-called “right-to-work” into law if elected.
Democrat Chris Koster, Missouri’s current attorney general and the Democratic candidate for governor, opposes “right-to-work” and has vowed to fight it.
ATTACKING WORKER-FRIENDLY LEGISLATORS
Twenty Republican legislators who stood with Missouri working families in sustaining Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the phony “right-to-work” legislation last year were attacked in this year’s primary election by a committee funded by the Humphreys Family. The so-called Committee for Accountable Government in Missouri aired a series of vicious attack ads in a campaign to “hold the group responsible” for their votes against so-called “right-to-work.”
Among them was Rep. Anne Zerr, a St. Charles County Republican and longtime friend of working families, who lost her primary race to Bill Eigel of Weldon Spring.
Humphreys and his family are quickly closing in on another Missouri mega donor, retired St. Louis investor Rex Sinquefield, who has dumped over $11 million into the 2016 election.
“We’ve got Rex Sinquefield on the right side of the state, we’ve got David Humphreys on the left and all of them are trying to take away what we have fought for,” Hummel, a member of IBEW Local 1 and the Missouri House minority leader, told delegates at the convention. Hummel is also a candidate for Missouri Senate in District 4.
Humphreys is being strategic in his donations, Hummel said, counting votes in the House and Senate and trying to buy a governor who will sign so-called “right-to-work” into law and an attorney general who will decline to challenge the language of the law.
And he is getting close. Paycheck deception was defeated this year by only one vote.
CAMPAIGN FOR WORKER-FRIENDLY CANDIDATES
With less than 40 days until the election, Hummel urged delegates to motivate their members to knock on doors and work phone banks to get worker-friendly candidates elected.
“By the end of January, if Eric Greitens is governor, all of those things that we fought for will be gone in 30 days,” Hummel said.
“You think about all of the money these people have and how much good they could do with it if they just tried. Think about that for a second, that somebody’s got so much money and instead of helping people his pet project is to destroy us.
“When you’ve got these guys that are out there trying to tear us down for just that little bit that we fought for – a good wage to put food on the table, healthcare if we get sick, enough money to put our kids through school and retire with dignity – it really scares you,” Hummel said
It should scare all union members, he said, and motivate them to work for Koster and other worker-friendly candidates.
“We’ve been lucky so far,” Hummel said “We’ve worked hard. We’ve fought back where we can, but we almost had paycheck by one vote. It’s too close. And these guys can smell blood in the water.”
To find a canvassing or phone banking opportunity near you visit the Missouri AFL-CIO webstie and click on the Labor 2016 tab at the top of the page, or go to moaflcio.org/canvass-phone-bank.