By TIM ROWDEN
Republican lawmakers in Missouri unleashed their second, third and fourth wave of attacks on Missouri’s workers in recent days. Even as the ink was drying on Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature on Senate Bill 19:
- The Republicans first attack wave, was making Missouri the 28th “right-to-work” state.
- Second attack wave: The Missouri House advanced a paycheck deception measure Feb. 9, sending House Bill 251 (HB 251) to the Senate.
- Third attack wave: The Senate gave first round approval of Senate Bill 182 (SB 182) that prohibits Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). That bill was set on the Senate calendar for a third reading late Monday, Feb.13 after Labor Tribune press time.
- Fourth attack wave: Several measures targeting prevailing wage were also being considered in the House and Senate.
HB 251, sponsored by Representative Jered Taylor (R-Nixa) 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 House bill would impact public employees such as nurses, teachers, social workers, municipal workers, snowplow drivers and anyone working for state and local governments. Unlike last year’s legislation, it would also include police, fire fighters and first responders, groups Governor Greitens claims to support.
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“Workers already have this freedom, to join or not join a union,” Beck said during House debate on the measure. “They can do it any time during the year. We heard plenty of testimony on this. They make it real easy on public employees whether they want to join or not join; whether they want to give money to political cause or whether they don’t want to give money to political cause. I don’t understand why we care about what people do with their money after they earn it. It’s their money. They can do what they want with it.”
The paycheck deception measure was sent to the Senate on a 95-60 vote.
The Missouri Legislature passed a similar bill last year but it was vetoed by then Gov. Jay Nixon.
‘UNIONS DON’T WANT THIS’
“Unions don’t’ want this bill, but the majority party wants to impose their will on their paychecks,” said Representative Michael Butler (D-St. Louis). “This bill tells teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police that the Missouri Legislature knows better and we’re going to make decisions for them.”
Representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), a retired member of Teamsters Local 600, called the bill an attack on working people, funded by union-hater David Humphreys, president and CEO of Joplin-based TAMKO Building Products Inc., who with his family spent more than $14 million during the campaign cycle supporting candidates who supported “right-to-work” and other anti-union measures.
“There’s no rhyme or reason other than weakening Labor,” Burns said. “They have produced no evidence of any union members coming to them or testifying in our committee meetings or anywhere else that they want these egregious anti-Labor laws. The people who are bringing these bills have no experience in Organized Labor, they just wrongly believe that unions are ‘bad’ and they want to get rid of them. We’ve been fighting with all our hearts, but on the other side it falls on deaf ears.”
MORE OF THE SAME
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said the paycheck deception measure is part of the same anti-worker agenda driving much of the legislation this session.
“It’s just more of the same where they’re preaching less government, yet their reaching into the personal lives of public sector workers, treating them like little kids, like they’re not even capable of making their own decisions about what they want deducted from their paychecks and where they want that money to go to,” Louis said.
“They’re trying to do away with Organized Labor and do it on the backs of workers.”