Jefferson City – Missouri’s corporate-owned legislators have moved the date that voters will decide whether to make Missouri a so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) state to the Aug. 7 primary.
Last summer, 310,567 Missourians signed a petition to place Proposition A (RTW) on the Nov. 6 election ballot for voters to decide, but Missouri’s corporate legislators, backed by billionaires, out-of-state CEOs and dark-money special interest groups moved the date to August, when they know historically fewer voters turn out to the polls.
On a 96-47 vote, the Republican-controlled House moved the date of the vote to the lower-turnout election, using the phony argument that businesses are waiting for the wage-killing legislation to become law before moving to Missouri.
In other words, in addition to misleading voters about the true intent and impact of Prop. A (RTW), they are trying to influence the vote by intentionally misleading – if not outright lying – to the public.
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said the move is an effort to thwart the will of the people.
“Supporters of Proposition A are desperately trying to confuse Missouri voters about what it is and what it would do to the state,” Louis said. “Proposition A is nothing more than a ploy to attack workers’ rights and drive down wages. Our folks are energized to get out there and make sure we are at the ballot box in August to vote no on Proposition A.”
PROP. A GOAL: LOWER MISSOURI WAGES
We Are Missouri, the coalition of workers,’ civic, religious and community groups organized to fight RTW, issued the following statement on the date change:
“Through all the efforts to distract and deceive Missouri families about ‘right-to-work,’ it’s been crystal clear that those pushing Proposition A have one ultimate goal: lowering Missouri wages,” We Are Missouri spokeswoman Erin Schrimpf said in a statement.
“Anyone who has been paying attention to what has been going on in Jefferson City knows the level of dishonesty and dysfunction and this is no different. Proposition A is wrong for Missouri.
“Now that politicians have moved Proposition A to the August ballot, we look forward to educating Missouri voters about how Proposition A fails to create jobs and forces workers to accept lower pay,” Schrimpf said.
“Proposition A broadens the gap between working families and the wealthy CEOs at the very time when we need to be giving workers and families greater economic opportunities. We are confident that come Aug. 7, Missourians will protect their pay by voting no on Proposition A.”
So-called RTW attacks the freedom of working people to join together to negotiate a fair return on their work by banning union represented businesses from negotiating labor contracts that assure workers will either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s costs of bargaining and representation.
The goal is to financially starve unions – which under federal law must represent all workers covered by the contract whether they are dues-paying members or not – and thus limit the union’s ability to negotiate for and represent workers.
When Gov. Eric Greitens took office last year, the legislature rushed to pass RTW and get it on his desk as its first order of business.
TRYING TO SILENCE VOTERS
This is not the first time voters have sought to repeal a state law, but it is the first time the Legislature has interfered in the process. There have been 26 similar referendum votes on whether to repeal state law since 1914, but this marks the first time a vote was moved from the general election to the primary election.
“This is an attempt to defeat the will of the people,” said Rep. Bruce Franks (D-St. Louis) said.
“We were able to get a record number of signatures and not just from Democrats” to put RTW on the ballot. “The folks who come from these unions aren’t just Democrats…. The people of Missouri came out. This is an attempt to defeat the will of the people.”
Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis), a member of CWA 6300, dismissed backers’ claims that the law would create jobs or raise wages.
“There is no evidence of that,” May said. “This is not good for Missouri.”
A petition effort by the so-called Freedom to Work committee to place a RTW constitutional amendment on the same ballot failed to get enough signatures, and a legislative attempt to put the amendment on the ballot anyway died in the Senate.
‘WE WILL PREVAIL’
“It was a rough week,” said Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1 and president of the Missouri State Building & Construction Trades Council. “We took it on the chin – again. But we’ll get out on Aug. 7 and we will prevail.”
Part of the logic of moving the vote on Proposition A to November is not only to thwart the will of the people on RTW, the Republican majority in the legislature is also betting it will reduce the turnout in November of working people who are more likely to pull a Democratic ballot in the race between Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Josh Hawley.
Walsh said workers will be hitting the streets between August and November to make sure that’s a bet Republicans lose.
“We’re going to come back in November and we’re going to elect a senator that will be there for us,” Walsh said. “Claire McCaskill has always been there for working people, and Labor will be there for Claire McCaskill.”