GOP-led Legislature also trying to undo Clean Missouri, chip away at minimum wage
By TIM ROWDEN
Missouri Republicans just won’t take no for an answer.
Missourians decisively rejected Proposition A on Aug. 7, 2018 by a better than two-to-one majority, 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent, defeating so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) in 99 of Missouri’s 114 counties and the City of St. Louis but Republicans want to put RTW back on the ballot, this time through an initiative petition that would make RTW part of the Missouri Constitution.
The Missouri Right to Work Initiative would outlaw union security clauses by baring union-represented businesses from negotiating contracts that assure workers will either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation.
Patricia Thomas, treasurer of the Missouri Republican Party, filed the ballot initiative on behalf of Todd Graves, who was the chairperson of the Missouri Republican Party through January 2019.
Thomas also filed another initiative, Missouri Right to Work and Prohibit Prevailing Wages Initiative to both add RTW provisions to the state constitution and prohibit prevailing wage policies.
Prevailing wage laws require union and non-union construction workers to be paid state-set minimum wages on taxpayer-funded public works projects, including roads, bridges, schools and other public buildings –– ensuring projects are bid based on equipment, materials and overall project management, rather than on the wages of the employees.
One or both measures could appear on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot if their anti-union, anti-worker supporters are successful in collecting the required 160,199 valid voter signatures by May 3, 2020.
The Republican-led Missouri Legislature is also trying to overturn the will of the voters on Amendment 1 (Clean Missouri) to clean up Missouri politics and Proposition B, which raised the state’s minimum wage.
At least four bills have been filed to undo sections of Clean Missouri and bring extreme and partisan gerrymandering into Missouri in time for 2021 redistricting.
Lawmakers also are considering a bill to keep workers who care for children in private and religious schools from earning the state’s increasing minimum wage.
‘TRYING TO OVERTURN THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE’
“They’re trying to overturn the will of the people,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council. “The people have spoken already and once again the Republican-led legislature is trying to overturn the people’s vote on RTW, just like they’re doing with Clean Missouri and everything else.
“The citizens of Missouri have spoken overwhelmingly on the RTW issue, just like we have with Clean Missouri and they’re not happy with that, so they’re trying to overturn the peoples’vote,” he said.
‘US AND THEM’
Pat White, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, said neither measure nor the slough of anti-worker bills and efforts to undo the provisions of the Clean Missouri amendment currently under consideration in the Missouri Legislature come as any surprise.
“They’ve done this the last couple of years,” White said, referring to the RTW and prevailing wage initiatives. “The difference between us and them, when we do this, we set out to get the signatures put Prop A on the ballot and defeat ‘right-to-work’ and we got them. They’ve failed to do this the last couple of years.”
Missouri union members and working families collected 310,567 – nearly three times the number needed – to trigger a statewide vote on Prop A.
“Not that we should ever put our guard down,” White said, “but they’ve proven that they don’t have the work ethic that we have when we set out to get the signatures for Prop. A.”
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING
Still, union members and working people can’t afford to not take this effort seriously.
White said anyone who sees petition gathers collecting signatures on the anti-worker initiatives should call the Labor Council at 314-291-8666.
“When you do see them out getting signatures, let us know here at the Labor Council so we can be proactive in our defense,” he said.
“This is something they’ll be out there doing, but our folks, the working men and women in Missouri and here in St. Louis, are resilient. We proved that on Prop A, and we will counter this any way that we have to,” White said.