By TIM ROWDEN
In separate rulings in St. Louis County and Jefferson City, Missouri trial judges have halted implementation of two anti-union bills passed last year by the Republican-led Missouri legislature and backed by former governor Eric Greitens that specifically target public sector union workers.
In St. Louis County, Judge Joseph Walsh, III halted the continued enforcement of House Bill 1413 – a Paycheck Deception law – until a final judgment is entered in a lawsuit filed by public sector workers.
Gov. Greitens, who resigned amid scandal last June, signed the bill into law as one of his final acts in office.
The bill, which took effect Aug. 28:
• Requires recertification votes for most public-sector unions to continue their representation.
• Limits the topics on which they can bargain.
• Requires annual employee permission to deduct dues or other fees from paychecks or to spend money on political causes.
In his ruling, Walsh said the law would gut the state’s constitutionally guaranteed collective bargaining rules.
“A system like HB 1413 — in which very few conditions of employment are subject to meaningful bargaining, and the few conditions over which the parties can negotiate may be unilaterally abrogated by management — does not even give an illusion of collective bargaining,” he wrote.
Allowing the paycheck deception statute to continue being enforced, Walsh ruled, “threatens to void… representational status, jeopardizes long-standing contractual protections” and “destroys good faith bargaining.”
In a separate ruling, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued an injunction blocking the state from implementing Senate Bill 1007, a law that made state workers at-will employees and stripped them of their civil service protections.
Beetem said the law impairs the bargaining rights of state workers, which are guaranteed in the state constitution.
While both rulings are likely to be appealed by anti-worker forces in the Missouri Legislature and from out-of-state.
Labor attorney James P. Faul, of Hartnett Reyes-Jones, LLC, said “These decisions are a good first-step in affirming what we already know; Missouri’s citizens believe in and respect full collective bargaining rights for public and private sector workers.”