OPINION: In race for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, union rights are front and center

Democratic candidate
Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District

It’s a great honor for me to have received the endorsement of the Missouri AFL-CIO in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.

I have supported the Labor Movement for more than four decades in my career as a journalist and political commentator. But that pales in importance to the task at hand, which is to send Rep. Ann Wagner packing in November and replace her with a Congressman who cares about the working men and women of our district.

There are many issues in my campaign to unseat Wagner, but few others involve as much of a stark contrast as that of issues pertaining to the rights of Labor unions and their members. From fighting for prevailing wage, strong family-leave legislation and a national $15 minimum wage – to combating so-called “Right-to-Work” laws and paycheck deception – I am the polar opposite of Ann Wagner.

We’ve seen a great resurgence of the strength of Organized Labor nationally in recent years. But Congress has not kept pace with public sentiment. In 2021, for example, the House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) over the “NO” votes of Wagner and other acolytes of corporate interests.

When elected, I will fight for any and all of the vital reforms included in the PRO Act. That includes strengthening the legal rights of employees to join a union, protecting those involved in secondary strikes and preventing workers from being fired for simply seeking to join a Labor union.

Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. But we still need action to strengthen its provisions and enforcement nine decades into its existence.

Big Business can count upon Wagner to do its bidding in all of its anti-union efforts and activities. And our Labor Movement can count on me to fight all of that, every step of the way.

Democrats have a historic opportunity to flip the House of Representatives in November, especially in light of Republican weakness (thanks to convicted felon Donald Trump) in suburban districts like Missouri’s 2nd District. And I think it’s fair to say that Wagner has never faced an opponent quite like me.

People who have followed me at the Riverfront Times, on Donnybrook and a variety of radio and TV programs know that I speak my mind freely – and without shading the truth for any particular audience – a trait that’s pretty much the opposite of a career politician like my opponent. And there’s no better example than advocacy for workers.

I look forward to defeating Wagner in November so that I can bring the fight for Labor reforms and assure that Congress meets the moment on behalf of the working men and women of our nation.

So, the Missouri AFL-CIO has more than my gratitude for its endorsement of me. Along with the entire Labor Movement, it has my solidarity.

(Ray Hartmann, one of Missouri’s best known political commentators, founded the Riverfront Times, a weekly alternative newspaper in St. Louis in 1977. He sold it in 1998 but remained a regular columnist for the paper. He is the retired co-founder and a 37-year panelist on Donnybrook, and a former speech writer for Gov. Christopher Bond.)

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