By ROBERT SAULS
Missouri State Representative 21st District
I was born and raised in the city of Independence, Mo. For many it is known as the hometown of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. For me, it has always been home. I have always believed that Independence was a big city with a “small-town feel” just east of Kansas City on the southern bank of the Missouri River.
Independence is a proud city with many blue-collar workers who work hard. They expect honest dealing and a fair shake. I am a third-generation union member. My grandfather was a member of the UAW, my father was a member of the UAW, and I was a member of IAFF Local 42.
As a strong advocate for the middle class, I wholeheartedly believe that union membership gives members a fighting chance. Not only have unions had a direct hand in implementing the 40-hour work week, child labor laws, and a minimum wage, but they have also done wonders for the protection of workers.
THE COST OF NON-UNION EMPLOYMENT
My mother was a single mom and non-union factory worker. I watched her work tirelessly for a wage that was two-thirds the wage of her male coworkers. She did the exact same job for less money, and the sole reason behind her reduced pay was because she is a woman.
The harsh reality is that she brought in less money for the same job while she was employed, but perhaps even more detrimental is the fact that she put less into retirement while she was working, making it a lifetime of reduced income.
My mom always encouraged me to use my voice to speak up for those who didn’t have one.
I became the first person on either side of my family to graduate from college and later graduated from law school. I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people and in September of 2017, I decided that I was going to run for office. I received strong union support in my run for state representative. I had union members generously give money to my campaign and knock doors in my support.
RTW FIGHT IS NOT OVER
Union members also came out strong in support against “right-to-work.” Prior to Proposition A, I had never personally seen such a coordinated effort either for or against a cause. Unified members worked as though their jobs and livelihoods depended upon the outcome, because let’s face it… they did.
That work is not over.
As a first term legislator I have seen the Missouri General Assembly attempt to unravel the will of the people on more than one occasion. They are doing it with Clean Missouri, and they will do it again with “right-to-work.”
“Right-to-work,” or as I like to call it “right-to-work for less,” was filed in the Missouri Senate this year and it will be filed again next year.
The harsh reality is that corporations and big business lobbyists want “right-to-work” and they will bankroll candidates who support it, regardless of how unpopular it is.
The only way to stop it is to stop voting for candidates who support it.
SUPPORT CANDIDATES WHO SUPPORT LABOR
In 2016, the Missouri House voted 96-63 to override then Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the measure. The House needed 109 votes to override the veto and it fell short. Labor-friendly Republicans faced primaries by opponents who were bankrolled by these special interests the following year and many of them lost their seats.
If you want to stop “right-to-work” and you want to protect prevailing wage, then stop voting for candidates with positions contrary to yours.
Reach out to friends and family members and educate them on why unions are good for not just you and your family, but their families as well. Donate time and money to Labor-friendly candidates, and most importantly… don’t stop fighting for your union brothers and sisters.
There may be more money in big business, but we have the numbers. Let’s use them.
(Robert Sauls is a Labor and workers’ compensation attorney at Boyd Kenter Thomas & Parrish. He is currently serving in the Missouri House of Representatives for the 21st District.)