By ED FINKLESTEIN
The need to protect Prevailing Wage, and a stronger effort to work across the aisle to accomplish something positive for Missouri, was stressed by two speakers at the recent St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council delegate meeting Sept. 9.
State Representative Donna Baringer (D-St. Louis), a former 14-year city alderwoman now in her first term in the Missouri Legislature, stressed the need to work across the aisle to pass legislation, something she has striven to do since taking office as a freshman legislator in January. She cited as an example of what bi-partisan cooperation can accomplish her successful effort as a freshman to pass a bill protecting the Social Security benefits for police officers at Lambert International Airport.
With efforts to repeal or drastically modify Missouri’s Prevailing Wage law expected to come up in the next legislative session, Baringer promised to do everything possible to convince her Republican colleagues that trying to kill Prevailing Wage would be a major disaster for Missouri’s union and non-union workers.
“Many Republicans are concerned, they understand the issue,” she said, adding that she hopes the positive relationships she’s developed with them will help reinforce their support.
Baringer comes from a family of union members, going back to her grandfather, and said she knows first-hand the importance of Prevailing Wage to workers.
“My grandmother used to tell me that without the union, she could not have fed their 10 kids,” Baringer said.
FIGHT FOR MISSOURI WORKERS
Brad Bakker, Democratic candidate running for Karla May’s 84th District seat in St. Louis (May, a member of Communication Workers of American Local 6300 and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, will be term-limited out at the end of next year.) said coming from a union family – his uncles are iron workers and his brother is a teamster – he understands how important unions are to all workers.
He also understands that government can sometimes help. His father is alive today, he said, because the health care coverage he received under the Affordable Care Act after being laid-off from his job allowed him to see a doctor who identified a potentially life threatening medical condition that could have caused him to have a fatal heart attack.
Prevailing Wage law is “good for everyone,” union and non-union, Bakker said, adding that the big companies behind the right-wing, anti-union American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will be pouring money into Missouri next year to defeat the “right-to-work” repeal effort and eliminate prevailing wage.
An employment attorney, Bakker said if elected, he will fight for Missouri workers.