Right-to-work zealots and corporate CEOs spent millions to defeat pro-worker candidates in Aug. 2 Missouri primary election. And, in some cases, their pro-business push paid off.
As Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, “a push by big business to weaken Missouri labor laws will be front and center again when a new crop of state lawmakers take their seats next year.”
Nowhere was that more evident than in the Republican primary contest to represent eastern St. Charles County in the state Senate.
Bill Eigel, of Weldon Spring –– a right-to-work proponent supported by union-hater David Humphreys, owner of Joplin-based TAMKO Building products –– narrowly defeated Rep. Anne Zerr of St. Charles by a mere 385 votes.
Humphreys made it his mission to defeat worker-friendly Republicans in the primary election, paying for commercials and contributing huge $$ to the campaigns of their opponents. He is, in essence, trying to buy an anti-worker Legislature.
Zerr, who stood with working families on last year’s right-to-work legislation, was one of 20 Republicans attacked for their vote in a series of vicious ads paid for by a committee funded by the Humphreys family.
Eigel received $300,000 in campaign cash from Humphreys. In addition, the independent committee funded by Humphreys and members of his family spent $126,000 on campaign materials opposing Zerr.
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Elsewhere in the state, worker-friendly Rep. Sheila Solon (R-Blue Springs), Rep. Nick King (R-Liberty) also were defeated in their re-election bids by candidates backed by Humphreys and his family.
The Kansas City Star reported King lost a hotly contested primary against Mary Hill, who received $75,000 from Humphreys, by a mere 44 votes, and Dan Stacy upended incumbent Solon by a 55-45 margin. Stacy received $25,000 from Humphreys.
‘A WAR AGAINST WORKING FAMILIES’
Humphreys wants the state to approve so-called right-to-work, allowing employees at unionized private companies to opt out of the union even as federal labor law requires the union to bargain and do other work on their behalf. This means that union members’ money would have to be spent on behalf of non-members, weakening the union’s ability to fight for its members.
An alternate law targeting public sector workers and inaccurately dubbed “paycheck protection” –– union members know it as paycheck deception, and it is widely seen as a first step toward right-to-work –– was vetoed this spring by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. The Republican-led Legislature failed to override his action largely because of worker-friend GOP lawmakers such as Zerr, King and Solon.
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, described the right-to-work fight as “a war declared against working families by out-of-touch corporate special interests flooding our elections with millions of dollars.
“Over the past eight months, the Missouri AFL-CIO has gone door to door, run phone banks and rallied our members to support the Missouri House and Senate members that have voted for good jobs, safer work places and better pay,” Louis said.
“We thank all of these members for representing their constituents with vigor. We share their frustration of knowing they did their job, but were ousted by outside corporate special interests determined to put profits over people.”
It was a tough election day for Organized Labor in more ways than one.
At the local level, St. Louis County Councilman Mike O’Mara (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562), a 16-year incumbent and currently council chair, lost to term-limited state legislator Rochelle Walton-Gray for the Fourth District seat, indicating a potential shift in north county politics.
Now the work of the general election begins, and the importance of electing worker-friendly candidates has never been clearer.
GOOD NEWS AT THE TOP OF THE BALLOT
The good news is worker-friendly Democrats have a great team at the top of the ballot with Jason Kander for U.S. Senate, U.S. 2nd District Congressional candidate Bill Otto and 1st District incumbent Lacy Clay, Chris Koster for governor, Russ Carnahan for lieutenant governor, Robin Smith for secretary of state, Judy Baker for state treasurer and Teresa Hensley for attorney general.
Long a friend of working families, Koster, as governor, could be the last line of defense if the Legislature passes right-to-work or other laws harmful to working families.
Otto and Kander are holding a joint campaign rally Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Teamsters Local 682 at 5730 Elizabeth Ave. in St. Louis. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the rally will begin at 5 p.m. Everyone is invited.
(Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star.)
Working families made their voices heard in primary election
Working families made their voices heard in Missouri’s primary election last week when they voted for candidates who will stand with working families and oppose anti-worker attacks like right-to-work.
“This election is simply about electing people that will create a better life for Missouri’s working families,” said Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO
Louis said union volunteers and working family members went door-to-door, ran phone banks and rallied members to support the statewide and Missouri House and Senate members that have stood against right-to-work and other anti-worker measures, and voted for good jobs, safer work places and better pay.
“I am proud of the thousands of my sisters and brothers who took time out of their personal lives to join us fighting this war – a war declared against working families by out-of-touch corporate special interests flooding our elections with millions of dollars,” Louis said.
“Each of you made a difference, and together we now move forward fighting this war from now until November 8, when we can claim victory for all of Missouri’s working families.”
Challenged COPE-endorsed candidates at the top of the ballot who emerged victorious last week included Democrats Jason Kander for U.S. Senate, Lacy Clay for U.S. Congress, Chris Koster for governor, Russ Carnahan for lieutenant governor, Robin Smith for secretary of state, Judy Baker for treasurer and Teresa Hensley for attorney general.
In the Missouri Senate incumbent Jamilah Nasheed, a long-time friend of working families, easily won the nomination for re-election in District 5.
In the Missouri House, the following challenged COPE-endorsed candidates were victorious:
- District 46 – Martha Stevens (D)
- District 66 – Tommie Pierson Jr. (D)
- District 67 – Alan Green (D)
- District 69 – Gretchen Bangert (D)
- District 71 – Sue Meredith (D)
- District 74 – Cora Faith-Walker (D)
- District 77 – Steve Roberts (D)
- District 78 – Penny Hubbard (D)
- District 80 – Peter Merideth (D)
- District 81 – Alfred J. (Fred) Wessels (D)
- District 106 – Chrissy Sommer (R)
- District 111 – Shane Roden (R)
- District 113 – Karen Settlemoir-Berg (D)
- District 117 – Mike Henderson (R)
- District 119 – Nate Tate (R)
State Rep Rochelle Gray has been a worker friendly Democrat, throughout her political career. Proven time and time, again by her voting record. Her vote help to prevent the RTW bill, from passing. The RTW bill would have had an overwhelming impact on workers, across the entire state. Rep. Gray’s husband (Alan) has been a member of unions, for his entire life. So, yes, we need to make sure that these labor friendly democrats, are elected, in the General!