By SHERI GASSAWAY
As if passage of the phony “right-to-work” (for less) law wasn’t a big enough blow to Missouri workers, Republican legislators are continuing their pursuit of destroying the middle class with unprecedented momentum.
The Missouri AFL-CIO currently is tracking more than 130 bills in the House and Senate that would be detrimental to workers. Thirty-three of the measures are on the AFL-CIO’s critical list, with the majority being different versions relating to prevailing wage, Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and paycheck deception.
Senate Bill 20, which would repeal the prevailing wage law, is at the top of the list. Prevailing wage establishes a minimum rate that must be paid to workers on state-funded construction projects in Missouri.
Twelve other bills in the legislature would adversely impact the prevailing wage law. One would allow public bodies to opt out on projects of $750,000 or less. Another would exempt certain school districts.
“They’re all at various stages in the legislative process and could be brought up at any time,” Missouri AFL-CIO Political Director Merri Berry said.
Also on the “hot list” is House Bill 126, which would, in effect, end Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Under the bill, government entities that enter into PLAs for construction projects would be stripped of all state funding. HB 126 has been approved by the House and is pending in the Senate. Meanwhile, a Senate companion bill, SB 182, has been approved by the Senate and sent to the House.
Coming in at No. 3 on the critical list is House Bill 251 – known as “paycheck deception.” The measure would require public employees to opt in each year for dues to be taken out of their paychecks by unions. It also specifies that information on how such deductions are used must be available to employees.
The bill would apply to public employees such as nurses, teachers, social workers and municipal workers – anyone working for state and local governments. Unlike last year’s legislation, it would also include police, fire fighters and first responders. HB 251 has been approved by the House and is currently pending in the Senate.
Two other anti-worker bills have recently made headlines. One weakens worker protections relating to discrimination, and the other slashes unemployment benefits.
Senate Bill 43 would make it significantly harder for employees to prove discrimination under the Missouri law. It would undermines basic civil rights protections and permits retaliation against employees who report violations of the law. The bill has been approved by the Senate and is currently in the House.
House Bill 288 would shorten the benefit period for laid-off workers from 20 weeks to 13 weeks if the unemployment rate is below six percent. If the jobless rate climbs above six percent, the maximum number of weeks would increase and top out at 20 weeks if the unemployment rate rises to over nine percent.
The bill was approved by the House and is now pending in the Senate.