House fails to override governor’s veto
By TIM ROWDEN
UPDATED: Thousands of phone calls, letters to legislators and door-to-door visits with union members in contested districts paid off for Missouri’s working families Wednesday as the Missouri House sustained Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of HB 116-569/RTW, failing to pass an override motion by a vote of 96-63.
Republicans in the state House needed 109 votes to override the Governor’s veto and make Missouri the 26th right-to-work state. The vote killed the measure, a combined version of HB116 and HB569. As a result, the Senate didn’t act.
The measure’s failure is a national setback for right-to-work proponents and a major victory for union members who have seen labor bastions like Michigan and Wisconsin fall to right-to-work in recent years.
House Speaker Todd Richardson said later that he’ll work with the GOP caucus to see if a revised version of “right to work” that would be veto-proof can be crafted during the next legislative session that begins in January. Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, contended that he had the necessary 23 votes in the Senate for an override, if the measure had gotten through the House.
Representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), a retired member of Teamsters Local 600, said he doubted the right-wing of the legislature could draft a right-to-work bill that would be effective.
“Michigan couldn’t stop it, Oklahoma and Nebraska couldn’t stop it, but Missouri stopped it, and we did it in a bipartisan effort,” Burns said. “I think they’re going to be hard pressed to bring anything up that is effective.”
Burns praised the 600-plus union members who crammed into the Capitol for the debate and for their respectful behavior and their hard work in defeating the measure.
In a statement, Gov. Nixon said the vote “sent a clear message to the nation that Missouri will stand by its workers and oppose attempts by outside special interests to cut wages and weaken the middle-class.”
Nixon said he looked forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate on the bipartisan priorities that will truly strengthen Missouri’s economy – such as creating jobs, balancing budgets, investing in local schools and making college more affordable.
‘WRONG FOR MISSOURI’
“Right-to-work is wrong for Missouri, and its defeat today is a victory for all working people,” Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said in a statement.
“On behalf of working women and men in Missouri, I want to thank Governor Nixon for vetoing right-to-work. I also want to thank the members of the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, who stood up to out-of-state corporate interests and voted to defeat right-to-work.
“Reducing wages, eliminating benefits, and working to take away collective bargaining rights are not how we value work in this country, but they are exactly what right-to-work laws are designed to do,” Louis said. “But brave Republicans and Democrats stood up today to show that they believe in the working men and women of Missouri and in the value of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
The vote killed the measure, a combined version of HB116 and HB569. As a result, the Senate didn’t act.
FIGHT BIG MONEY
Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council, spent his 20th wedding anniversary in Jefferson City listening to the debate and was ebullient at the results of the vote as he headed out for dinner with his wife, Maggie.
“We’d like to thank all the representatives who stuck with us,” White said. “It’s a victory for unions as well as all workers across Missouri, and even the country. It proves that every man and woman can fight big money by hard work.”
EFFORT AND COOPERATION
Jeff Aboussie, secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council said: “People realized it was government overreach at its finest, and they were trying to suppress the working class. This is not something that grows our economy.
“It was a clear-cut decision,” Aboussie said. “This is not what we need. I commend the AFL-CIO and all unions in the state for their hard work. We have not seen this type of effort and cooperation in the last 30 years. Thanks go out to all union members as well for their work.”
(Sheri Gassaway of the Labor Tribune contributed to this report.)