More than three times the number needed: ‘That’s what you have done!’
By TIM ROWDEN
More than 300,000 notarized signatures! That’s the number of registered voters who have signed the citizens’ referendum petition to stop implementation of so-called “right-to-work” in Missouri and repeal the anti-worker law by putting it on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide.
Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and other union leaders announced the results of the signature gathering campaign in a rally Aug. 8 at IBEW Local 1 hall in St. Louis.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has said the law can’t be enforced if working Missourians with the We Are Missouri coalition turn in at least 100,000 certified signatures. Louis told supporters at the rally that the signatures were to be submitted on Aug. 18 following a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City.
“What you’ve accomplished will go down in the history books!’’ Louis told the enthusiastic crowd, emphasizing that union volunteers had collected enough signatures in each of the state’s eight congressional districts – even though only six were needed – to put the measure on the ballot, and that signatures are still being collected.
“It really is humbling to know what you’ve accomplished will go down in the history books as being the first time that every single congressional district has qualified to be part of putting something on the ballot,” Louis said. “Eight of eight! There’s nothing like it!”
Missouri’s “right-to-work” law, passed by the Republican-led legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens in February, was set to take effect Aug. 28, allowing freeloaders to enjoy all the benefits of union representation without paying one red cent to support the overhead necessary to run the union. The law has one goal: to cripple and destroy unions. The apparent success of the petition drive will stop that – for now.
FIGHT JUST BEGINNING
The fight to repeal the anti-worker law is only beginning. Dark money is pouring into the state to thwart the repeal effort. Greitens’ own nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., has already donated $350,000 to the cause. See related story.
Louis, wearing a classic “Right-to-Work is a Rip-Off!” cap from the successful 1978 fight to defeat a “right-to-work” ballot measure, spelled out its true impact on union and non-union workers, while expressing confidence that the anti-union, anti-worker law will be defeated for ALL workers in Missouri.
“We’re going to end this attack,” Louis said. “It’s not just on us, brothers and sisters. It’s on every working family in this state. When our wages go down and our pensions go down and our health and welfare goes down and we start getting screwed daily on the job, what do you think happens to people that don’t have a union contract? It’s worse for them – worse. So we’re not here just for ourselves. We’re here for every worker in this state, and we’re taking it back. We’re taking this state back because it belongs to the working people of this state, not Eric Greitens!”
‘YOU MADE HISTORY’
“Each and every one of you in here is making history today,” Pat White, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council told the standing room only crowd at Local 1. “Whether you turned in a sheet with two signatures or 2,000 signatures, you made history.
“We’re fighting against people that hate us even more than they did back in 1978, and with less people,” White said. “And you should be proud of that. No one has done what we’ve done before. No one has registered as many people as we did. No one has registered as many people in every corner of the state.
“Every person in here belongs to a different organization that worked together on this,” White said. “We had UFCW people working next to electricians in Springfield. We had bricklayers going into Phelps and up to Dixon County. We had teachers running our stuff up from Columbia. We had pipefitters…. Every organization in our area kicked in.”
THIS IS HOW WE WIN
“We’ve seen more togetherness in this campaign than I’ve seen in the 20, 30 years that I’ve been doing this,” White said. “And I can tell you that that’s the only way that we win. When you see SEIU members next to pipefitters, when you see teachers next to electricians and Teamsters next to UFCW members, that’s the only way that we get this done.
“We can do this,” White said, “but you’ve got to keep it on the front burner. Talk to people that you normally wouldn’t talk with about ‘right-to-work.’ When you’re out at your kids’ ballgames, when you’re at your meetings for your church, when you’re at your social clubs, you’ve got to keep this on the front burner. The only way we beat this back a year from now is if we make friends with people we maybe haven’t talked with before and build coalitions with folks that maybe we’re a little uncomfortable talking to. That’s how we win.”