Missouri AFL-CIO challenging the ballot language in court
By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City — A proposed constitutional amendment to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state is being challenged in a lawsuit filed the Missouri AFL-CIO March 5 in Cole County Circuit Court.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently approved Initiative Petition 2022-004 for circulation, allowing supporters to begin collecting signatures to put a measure on the ballot in 2022 to amend Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution to establish Missouri as a “right-to-work” state. The initiative petition was filed by Liberty Alliance, the same Kansas City-based PAC that helped fund Missouri’s Prop A “right-to-work” effort, which Missouri voters resoundingly rejected in 2018.
“In the 2018 elections, lobbyists and special interests tried to push a law in Missouri that would cut the take home pay of workers across the state. But Missouri voters joined together and overwhelmingly rejected that proposition by a 30-point margin,” said Jake Hummel, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO. “Now the special interests are disrespecting the will of the voters and trying to push this law again, which would hurt the rights of working people to bargain for better pay.”
U.S. Department of Labor and Census Bureau reports show that in so-called “right-to-work” states, wages decline. On average, families make $8,700 less per year in states with “right-to-work” laws, while the average CEO pay is 364 times more than the average worker.
“If this Amendment passes, CEOs will make more, while average workers will make much less,” said Hummel.
ATTEMPTING TO MISLEAD VOTERS
Hummel said the proposed constitutional amendment and ballot summary attempts to mislead voters by using the phrase “freedom to work.”
The official ballot language of the measure reads: Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to provide that every employee shall have the freedom to work without being forced to join or pay any fees to a union (labor organization) in order to gain or keep a job?
“When politicians and special interests try to force workers to take lower wages, that’s the opposite of freedom,” said Hummel. “Employees and employers have a constitutional right to negotiate an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay — that’s real freedom.”
ALSO PURSUING LEGISLATION
The union-busting phony “right-to-work” backers aren’t simply relying the initiative petition. The Missouri Senate is considering two bills (SB 118 and SB 73) that would again try to make Missouri an anti-union “right-to-work” state as well as a bill that would enact “paycheck deception” (SB 244) barring workers from having union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.
“These bills are designed to weaken unions so we can’t stand up for working people,” Missouri AFL-CIO Political Director Stephen Webber told a recent panel organized by Missouri Jobs with Justice to discuss this year’s legislative session.
In all, Republican legislators in Missouri have filed 155 anti-worker, anti-union bills this session – 39 of which have been flagged as critical by the Missouri AFL-CIO, and all of which represent a direct attack on workers having a fair shake in the workplace.