OPINION: Missouri AFL-CIO recaps 2023 legislative session

Missouri AFL-CIO

As union members we understand solidarity. In the Labor Movement workers take on the biggest mega corporations in the world – and win – through our combination of teamwork, commitment and dedication to a shared goal.

With our background in solidarity, it shouldn’t come as a shock to any of us that when the dysfunctional anti-Labor supermajority in the Missouri legislature collided with the pro-Labor super-minority it wasn’t the size of their numbers, but the strength of our solidarity that determined the winner.

The 2023 legislative session was a big win for Missouri Labor. ANOTHER big win. Despite being outnumbered with few powerful allies, our movement, led by Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel, scrapped, clawed and stood TOGETHER, as anti-Labor Republicans fought amongst themselves, to defeat the onslaught of attacks that rained down upon us

Anti-Labor legislative attacks that were defeated this session included:

  • So-called “initiative petition reform” (HJR 43) that would have weakened the power of the people to decide our own futures – DEFEATED.
  • Attacks on Unemployment Insurance that would have slashed unemployment benefits to as little as eight weeks – DEFEATED.
  • Attacks on teachers and educational curriculum. – DEFEATED.
  • Expansion of charters, open enrollment, and attacks on public schools – DEFEATED.
  • County-by-county so-called “right-to-work” (for less) scheme – DEFEATED.
  • Property tax cuts that endanger funding for first responders – DEFEATED. 
  • Reckless truck “platooning” legislation that would have endangered motorists and killed jobs – DEFEATED.
  • A ban on state funding to any entity that includes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as part of its mission – DEFEATED.
  • Public employee paycheck deception – beaten so badly the last few years it wasn’t even pushed!

Overall it was the fewest number of bills passed (other than the Covid session) in the last 20 years.

And solidarity didn’t just stop bad things from happening, it helped accomplish things that will benefit Missourians:

  • I-70 expansion – Missouri Labor took the lead on securing $2.8 billion ($1.4 billion from general revenue and $1.4 billion from bonding) to expand I-70 across the state. The expansion will keep motorists safe, power economic development and provide jobs for union members.
  • Pay increase for state employees – Public employee unions also successfully pushed for an 8.7 percent across the board pay increase for State employees.
  • Medicaid expansion – Medicaid’s meager 60 days of postpartum coverage was expanded to a full 12 months thanks to SB 45 sponsored by Labor-backed Senator Elaine Gannon (R-Jefferson).
  • School funding – Missouri teachers’ career ladder program was fully funded, and for the second year in a row so too was school transportation.
  • Child care and pre-K funding – Over 130 million NEW dollars were budgeted for child care subsidies and pre-K programs to help children and working families.

The session was by no means without negatives. Passage of a positive mechanical licensing bill still eluded us. Attacks on the Trans community were savage and unfortunately successful. But by standing together Missouri Labor, against all reasonable odds, turned the 2023 legislative session into something that delivered some positive change for working people of Missouri.

There will be another session next year. And yet another after that. The Governor can call special sessions at any time. We are by no means out of the woods. But by sticking together we’ve continued to make life better for workers, unions and the people of Missouri.

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