By TIM ROWDEN
Speaking to the packed house at the Missouri Democratic Party’s annual Truman Dinner at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36’s Grand Hall last month in St. Louis, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill pulled no punches in the war on workers embodied by Proposition A, the so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) measure that Missouri voters will decide on Aug. 7.
“In our party, we don’t only respect hard work, in our party, we respect workers’ rights!” McCaskill said to cheers from the roughly 500 people gathered for the party fundraiser.
“We respect the men and women in our state that work with their hands and on their feet. We respect the people who take a shower after work, instead of before work. Those are the people I’m fighting for. Those people are the soul of the Democratic Party.
“Do you know what’s as all-American as motherhood and apple pie? I’ll tell you what’s all American, workers in this country coming together to collectively exercise their power for better wages and better benefits,” she said.
“So, when someone comes along in Missouri and buys off a bunch of state legislators and says ‘The first thing you’ve got to do is make sure that we can get rid of the rights of workers to collectively come together for better wages, better benefits, secure benefits for their families,’ do you know what we say? We say NO on Prop A!” McCaskill said, starting a chant “NO on Prop A! NO on Prop A! NO on Prop A!”
A political veteran and a tireless campaigner, McCaskill said she has heartened and impressed by what she’s seeing in Missouri with voters electing Democratic candidates like Mike Revis in Jefferson County and Lauren Arthur in Kansas City –– two traditionally Republican districts that went heavily for Donald Trump in 2016 –– and organizing against Prop. A to defeat RTW on Aug. 7.
“I’ve been around this state many times and I have never seen energy on the ground like I’m seeing right now in the state of Missouri,” McCaskill said. “We’re going to fight shoulder-to-shoulder and we’re going to show the rest of the country that here in Missouri we still value the all-American concept of workers having rights and power.”
McCaskill lashed out at her top GOP rival, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, for allegedly failing to work hard at his current job. Hawley is a first term state office holder and campaigned on a promise not to use the office as a ladder to higher office.
McCaskill said it was apparent Hawley had a ladder in his trunk, and she mocked him over press reports about his gym workouts and wine purchases.
“While we have been working really hard, my opponent Josh Hawley has been hardly working,” McCaskill said.
I worked my way through school as an undergrad and when I was in law school down at Mizzou as a waitress.
“I can’t imagine when I was a prosecutor or when I was the auditor or when I was a senator that anybody who worked in my offices would think that it was okay to go to the gym at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning,” she said. “Think about that. All of you have jobs. How do you think your boss would look at it if you decided that your pattern was going to be you were going to go to the gym 30 miles from your office at 10 o’clock every morning or most mornings and roll into work about noon? Do workers do that? Workers don’t do that.
“Do workers go wine shopping during the workday? No! Workers don’t’ do that. Do you know who does that? Somebody who thinks they’re entitled to something. Somebody who doesn’t understand it takes hard work to do a good job for the people of Missouri.”
HAWLEY BACKED BY RTW BACKER DAVID HUMPHREYS
McCaskill also noted how Hawley got almost $4 million –– almost 80 percent of his campaign –– from a single donor.
“And do you know who that money came from? That money came from the man who is funding everybody in Jefferson City with one priority, to get rid of unions in the state of Missouri. That’s who the money came from.”
Although she didn’t call him out by name, the donor McCaskill was referring to was David Humphreys, the CEO of Joplin-based TAMKO Building Products, who also funded the campaigns of disgraced former governor Eric Greitens and numerous state legislators to get the RTW bill he wanted passed.
McCaskill criticized Hawley for his botched investigations into Greitens use of a charity donor list and the dark money used to fund his agenda.
He had specific statutory authority to bring a lawsuit on the secret documents, to bring a lawsuit on the not-for-profit, and he looked the other way,” McCaskill said. “Now two private lawyers now are doing his work.”
Finally, McCaskill zeroed in Republican’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the lawsuit Hawley has brought to dismantle the pre-existing condition protections of the ACA. When she asked everyone in the room who has a pre-existing condition to stand up, almost everyone did.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were allowed to tell people you are not getting insurance because you had the nerve to get sick before,” McCaskill said. Josh Hawley is bringing a lawsuit to throw everyone who has a pre-existing condition under the bus of insurance company profits.
“It is Josh Hawley that is bringing a lawsuit to take away the protection that you have to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against you because you’ve been sick before.
“The Republicans have undermined and sabotaged the health care reforms that we have made,” McCaskill said. “I’m not saying they were perfect. We have said for years we can make it better, work with us. But no, they kept saying, ‘Repeal and replace.’ Well, it turns out repeal and replace was a bumper sticker. They didn’t repeal and replace, they didn’t know how to repeal and replace. So instead they have sabotaged and undermined.
“Remember the bad old days when women got charged more just because they were women?
“Remember when there was an age tax just because you happened to be older in terms of your insurance?
“Remember when rural Missourians had to pay more than people who were in larger communities.
“Remember when if you got a serious illness your insurance company could call you and say we’re cutting you off, you’ve reached your cap? That’s what the bad old days were.
“And Josh Hawley wants to make sure every single one of those bad things happens again,” McCaskill said.
“Before the protections of the ACA, insurance companies had unlimited power. Now, they’ve got a windfall of a tax bill and Josh Hawley wants to deliver them back that unlimited power. He’s working to throw those protections away and give all Missourians that anxiety we used to know, worrying if we lost our job would we ever get insurance again.”