Citizens’ veto could overturn legislation
Jefferson City – As Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was signing Senate Bill 19 into law, making Missouri the 28th “right-to-work” state, a petition seeking the referral of the legislation to Missouri voters was filed Monday with the Missouri Secretary of State.
The petition was filed by Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel.
According to Missouri’s Constitution, legislation passed by the Missouri General Assembly must be referred to voters if five percent of voters from two-thirds of Missouri’s congressional districts order it, creating a citizens’ veto.
“In today’s economy, employers and their employees need to work together to create and keep good paying jobs,” Louis said. “This referendum stops corrupt politicians and the corporate special interests from trying to micro-manage the private sector and interfere with contracts negotiated between employees and employers.”
As approved by the Missouri General Assembly, Senate Bill 19 creates a misdemeanor for employers who negotiate a union shop provision in contracts with their unions.
Acting out the wishes of his out-of-touch corporate CEOs, Gov. Eric Greitens signed the “right-to-work” Senate Bill 19 on Monday.
“Gov. Greitens is putting Missouri on the same dangerous path of job loss, lower wages and more dangerous work places as Oklahoma and other states that have adopted these anti-working families laws,” Louis said. “This referendum will guarantee that employers in Missouri can decide for themselves how to run their businesses and reach agreements with their employees without government intervention.”
Merri Berry, political director for the Missouri AFL-CIO, said petitioners have until Aug. 27 — the day before the “right-to-work” measure is scheduled to go into effect — to collect some 140,000 signatures of registered voters to place the law on the ballot. If the petition drive succeeds, “right-to-work” won’t take effect until Missourians get the chance to have their say in 2018.
According to research complied by the Missouri Legislative Academy, citizens have rejected the legislature’s actions 24 of 26 times via Referral Referendums. The only two times the citizens did not overturn the legislature were both in the 1920’s.
Missouri voters solidly rejected “right-to-work” in a statewide vote in 1978.
David Cook, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 predicted they will do so again.
“I am absolutely confident with everything I’ve seen in the polls that when Missouri voters have a chance to vote on this issue they are going to overturn this government overreach and defeat ‘right-to-work,’ just as they did in 1978,” Cook said. “Missouri voters have no desire for government overreach to take us backward on wages and working conditions to benefit an elite few.”
(Read more in the Thursday, Feb. 9, print edition of the Labor Tribune.)