Carl “Socko” Murray, a veteran of both Labor and Vietnam as a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 and the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne division, is sick and tired of Missouri’s legislators attacking workers like the union public sector caregivers who take care of him at the Missouri State Veterans Home in north St. Louis County.
Socko’s caregivers, members of AFSCME Local 1324, will be directly affected by a paycheck deception bill recently passed out of the Missouri Legislature by right-wing extremists who want to take away the rights of union members. Claiming it gives union members’ rights, the bill actually represents unrestrained regulation targeting unions.
Some Missouri Republican legislators have for years backed so-called “paycheck protection” bills restricting the right of public employees to have union dues taken out of their paychecks, even when it is voluntary on their part. Currently, employees are allowed to sign-off on payroll deduction to have dues taken out until the employee says to stop.
The bill’s proponents are proposing more government overreach between employees and their employers. Labor leaders, Democrats and some worker-friendly Republicans have opposed the measures, calling them out for what they are: an unnecessary attack on unions and a thinly veiled effort to get to the ultimate goal of right-to-work.
“They make it hard on them,” Socko said of what the legislature is doing to his caregivers. “They’ve got some rough, tough jobs. Everybody talks up in Jefferson City, but nobody does anything to help workers.”
Ceola Johnson, an organizer for AFSCME, recently paid a visit to Socko and his caregivers to talk about the paycheck deception bill.
“I think it’s horrible,” she said. “We have to stand up as workers and go to the Legislature, go to Jefferson City and try to get some of them to come and visit us on site so they’ll realize what the workers are really going through,” Johnson said. “They pass these laws without getting to know the workers, who we take care of or what we do.”
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said paycheck deception is “Step One of right-to-work” in that it sets the stage for workers in union shops to opt out of dues deduction and reap the benefits of their union contract without paying their fair share to support its enforcement.
The measure places a burden on unions and union members, Louis said, and that’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
“Don’t be fooled by their language,” Louis said. “Anything they can do to silence workers, that’s what they’re going to do.”