OUR VIEW: We’ve won a huge battle, but not yet the war


right-to-work copyBy ED FINKELSTEIN



The elation was palpable. When on Sept. 16 the Speaker announced the vote that unceremoniously dumped right-to-work once again back into its grave where it belongs, the joy was felt by working families across Missouri, union and non-union alike. It was 1978 all over again when the first RTW effort was defeated here.

This was more than a victory for union families; it was a victory for every working man and women in our state, a victory for Missouri’s future.

And it was a victory for raw courage, fortitude and doing what’s right.

See previous coverage:

To the 20 Republicans, 41 Democrats and one Independent who stood up to enormous pressures to vote against their constituents, pressures that included threats, a massive misinformation door-to-door and direct mail assault on voters in their districts and direct threats to legislators to create opposition against them in next year’s primaries unless they changed their vote, the working men and women of Missouri are indebted to you for standing tall against this intimidation onslaught.

To Governor Jay Nixon who stood alongside Missouri workers and vetoed this piece of distorted, biased, one-sided piece of legislation that would have pushed Missouri’s working families into the mud to serve as stepping stones for bloated CEO’s who already are making more than they can ever spend, “Thank You” Governor. He not only vetoed the bill, but also worked hard to ensure the vetoed stood.

You, ladies and gentlemen are Missouri’s HEROES!!!! You are OUR HEROES!!!


To our union members and families who made the phone calls, who walked the streets to knock on doors, who buttonholed their legislators at picnics, in the grocery stores, at town hall meetings, over coffee and a few beers, you ALL deserve a “thank you” for your efforts on behalf of us all. Talk about a job well done!

And to our state’s union leadership who organized, who fund raised to get information out to Missouri families in print, on radio, TV and direct mail and who marshaled our forces to get the truth out, “thank you” for your dedication, your focus, your organization skills and your sheer determination to not let the lies and distortions paid for by out-of-state business carpetbaggers carry the day.

A special “thank you” to Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and Secretary-Treasurer Jake Hummel and to the Council’s recently retired officers Hugh McVey and Herb Johnson (who held the fort in the early stages of this battle), to the leadership of two independent proactive public interest groups — Preserve Middle Class Families and Protect Mo Families — for their willingness to step up and step out in a massive public relations campaign that included factual informational web sites, radio and TV ads, Facebook and Twitter efforts as well as print materials that exposed this phony law for what it is.

And a special “thank you” to the Faith/Labor Alliance of faith leaders and union leaders and members who work faithfully in their pulpits and in the legislature to ensure everyone understood this was not only an economic issue but as importantly a moral issue. That made a big difference to a number of legislators.

And to our many community partners like Jobs With Justice, the many Labor Clubs throughout the area, participants on the Pro-Union St. Louis web site, We Are Missouri, Protect Missouri Families, Preserve the Middle Class, the Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans and others.


And while we all enjoy the victory, let’s not fool ourselves – the battle is far from over.

The radical right wing, out-of-state forces that spent millions got closer this time than ever before. They smelled, tasted victory and while they are sorely disappointed, it will only be temporary. They will be back! It’s already started. Legislators are talking about how they can tweak this disastrous bill with some “goodies” that will help convince the Republicans who stood with working families to change their minds.

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Brothers and Sisters, community partners, we have our job cut out for us.

First, we must regroup and begin planning a strategy for the next session of the legislature where we know RTW will be introduced again, and passed because the big money interests are not going to quit. The Special Interest carpetbaggers have their hands firmly on their legislators’ privates and will squeeze like never before.

Second, we need to protect our friends in the legislature, especially our Republican and susceptible Democratic friends, who will now be BIG targets in their primary elections next year. The right wing will put up, and heavily finance, opposition candidates they can control, hoping to strengthen their stranglehold on the legislature and prevent this defeat from happening again.

That means we’ll need to help their campaigns with boots-on-the-ground and whatever funding we can afford.

It also means we need to find quality candidates to fight the turncoats who turned on Missouri’s working families and supported the Special Interest groups when push came to shove.

While the Special Interests can outspend us, they can’t outwork us.

In their campaign, they put hundreds of paid out-of-state, uninspired workers on the streets that were getting an hourly paycheck. We put determined, knowledgeable, hard working workers on the street who were defending their way of life.

This must continue.


Third, we need to broaden and strengthen our community educational efforts to counteract what we know will be coming from the right. We can expect an even heavier expenditure on misleading and outright false radio and TV ads, especially in the districts of those decent Republican legislators who believe in Missouri’s working families.

We can counteract that by:

Creating Speaker’s Bureaus in every Central Body across the state and train more volunteers to go out, again, to every group, church, synagogue, mosque, civic organization, etc. that will have us.

Strengthening alliances with more community groups.

Expanding Faith/Labor Alliances across the state. Under the leadership of the St. Louis Labor Council and its Faith Outreach Coordinator Rev. Rudy Pulido, more Alliances need to be formed across Missouri so that we can help our faith leaders everywhere understand the dangers of this ill-advised, anti-work, Big Business law. This effort has already begun with several new Alliances being formed. Many more need to happen.

Finally, continuing to educate our own union members and families and make them into knowledgeable participants in the community outreach efforts. When a friend tells a friend about an issue, that has more credibility than anything else. We need to do everything possible to expand this one-on-one effort, and that begins with continual education of our union members and their families. There are still many who don’t understand the significance of this issue to their own well being. We have to change that.

We at the Labor Tribune pledge to continue our role as an information source for facts and truth.

We proudly published several special issues in this current campaign that shed lots of light on the BS the Right was spewing, to say nothing of our on-going efforts week and after week to expose groups like the right-wing Americans for Prosperity who funded the Missouri effort, and the American Legislative Educational Council (ALEC) who created almost verbatim the Missouri RTW law that was just defeated.

This victory was a TEAM victory. The TEAM needs to stay together and expand its efforts.

Let’s continue the celebration for a little while longer, and then let’s get to work. The sooner the better.

We won a huge battle, but we’ve not yet won the war.

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