By SHERI GASSAWAY
In Jefferson County, MO, Republican contenders won in every single race in the general election from president and governor to county council members and judges.
“When I looked at the results of the election, it was like reading an obituary,” said Bart Velasco, president of the Jefferson County Labor Club. “For Organized Labor to have a chance, we’re going to have to stay together and protect one another and do everything we can to take care of our families.”
When the Missouri Republican-controlled legislature convenes in January, the first order of business is expected to be the introduction of a so-called “right-to-work” law, its passage and its signing by Gov. Eric Greitens. Bringing “right-to-work” to Missouri was one of Greitens’ top priorities in his campaign.
“Right-to-work” would prohibit unions from negotiating contracts requiring employees covered by the union contract to pay union dues or, if not members of the union, fair share fees for all the services the union must provide all workers, members and non-members alike.
“We knew it was coming; we just didn’t know when,” Velasco said to members during the November labor club meeting. “We are going to have to follow what the Missouri AFL-CIO tells us to do and continue to fight for what is right.”
Velasco asked the younger members at the meeting what it was like at the jobsites after the election. Many reported shock and disbelief, and some said their co-workers still don’t fully understand what “right-to-work” and anti-prevailing wage laws mean.
Velasco urged the group to continue educating their co-workers, peers and family members on the subjects.
“We will win,” Velasco said. “We just have to stick together. There’s no reason to think the world is going to collapse.”