By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – One ironic twist in the Missouri Legislature’s push to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state that the law’s corporate backers and bought-and-paid for politicians might not have anticipated is the unifying impact passage of this anti-union, anti-worker law has had on the Missouri Labor Movement.
As State Representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), a retired member of Teamsters Local 600 and champion of working families in the Missouri Legislature put it, “They’ve awakened the sleeping giant and that’s Organized Labor.”
And let’s put it bluntly, the Giant is pissed.
The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature rushed through RTW legislation in January and Gov. Eric Greitens, who had campaigned on the issue, eagerly signed it in February.
The Missouri AFL-CIO and state chapter of the NAACP immediately filed an initiative petition to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide.
Braving freezing temperatures and sweltering heat, Missouri workers and union volunteers with the We Are Missouri coalition collected 310,567 signatures – nearly three times the number needed – to trigger a statewide vote.
Their achievement was celebrated on Aug. 18, when thousands of Missourians from across the state filled the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City on Aug. 18 as citizens representing the state’s eight congressional districts announced the delivery of hundreds of thousands of voters’ signatures in an historic effort to repeal the anti-worker law.
TIME FOR CITIZENS TO BE HEARD
“Right-to-work” supporters, backed by the National Right to Work Foundation, challenged the Citizen’s Veto initiative ballot language in court, with the phony allegations that the wording, approved by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley, was riddled with “embarrassing” grammatical errors and could be confusing to voters who might not realize they were voting to overturn an existing law.
The justices of the Supreme Court found otherwise in a ruling issued Oct. 7.
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said the ruling was a victory for middle-class and hard-working Missourians all across the state.
“It is time for politicians to listen to their constituents and allow the democratic process to play out,” Louis said. “It is time for the people to have their voices heard and for the politicians to listen.”
So-called “right-to-work” (RTW) outlaws paying union dues or fees by banning union represented businesses from negotiating labor contracts that assure workers will either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation. The idea is to financially starve unions, which, by federal law, must represent all workers in a union shop whether they pay dues or not, thereby limiting the union’s ability to negotiate and represent workers.
“‘Right-to-work’ is wrong for Missouri,” Louis said. “It is a ploy orchestrated by greedy CEOs that will lead to lower wages, a decline in benefits, and an increase in workplace injuries and deaths for all of Missouri working families. It gives government the ability to reach into the rights of employers to run their businesses as they see fit, something that the far-right wing contradicts themselves on.”
GREITENS, DARK MONEY DONORS FIGHTING REPEAL EFFORT
Certifying enough signatures to place so-called “right-to-work” on Missouri’s statewide ballot for voters to decide is only the beginning the repeal effort.
Dark money is already pouring into Missouri defend this awful law.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch Brothers’-funded pro- “right-to-work” advocacy group, has been dumping load after load of RTW lies on Missouri voters, using digital video, display ads, direct mail, events, door-to-door canvassing, and phone banking to confuse Missourians and try to sway the vote on the anti-worker law.
Donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone to pro- “right-to-work” political action committees from so-called “nonprofits” that don’t have to report their donors.
The Kansas City-based American Democracy Alliance donated $350,000 to a PAC called Liberty Alliance and $150,000 to a PAC called Missourians for Worker Freedom, two Kansas City-based PACs that share the same address and phone number and both oppose efforts to repeal “right-to-work.”
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ own nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., donated $350,000 to Missourians for Worker Freedom. Greitens’ campaign finance director, Meredith Gibbons, is helping raise money for Liberty Alliance.
A New Missouri Inc. founded by Greitens’ political team in February, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting the governor and attacking his political enemies, particularly those Republicans brave enough to fight for workers.
Joplin businessman David Humphreys, CEO of TAMKO Building Products spent millions in the last election cycle supporting RTW candidates and has donated at least $100,000 to Liberty Alliance to thwart the repeal effort.
St. Joseph-based Herzog Railroad Services, Inc. has also donated $100,000 to Liberty Alliance.
FIGHTING BACK TO STOP RTW
Workers are fighting back against the dark money-funded misinformation effort.
Volunteers have already begun receiving training through the AFL-CIO’s Commons Sense Economics program.
We Are Missouri, the coalition of union members, working Missourians and their allies, is fighting back with an “$8 for 8” campaign, playing off the historic feat of union members and working family allies gathering 310,567 petition signatures in all eight of Missouri’s Congressional Districts and all 114 Missouri counties to put so-called “right-to-work” on the ballot for voters to decide.
We Are Missouri, the campaign to repeal so-called “right-to-work (for less)” in Missouri needs your help to fund the public education campaign to defeat this anti-worker law at the ballot box.
The “$8 for 8” campaign plays off the historic feat of union members and working family allies gathering 310,567 petition signatures – more than three times the amount required – in ALL EIGHT of Missouri’s Congressional Districts and all 114 counties to put so-called “right-to-work” on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide.
Join the fight to defeat this anti-worker law by going to wearemo.org and clicking on the red “Donate” button in the upper right hand corner to help defeat “right-to-work (for less)” and the dark money backers working to make it state law.
If you’d rather, you can also mail a check to We Are Missouri, 227 Jefferson St., Jefferson City, MO 65101.