By TIM ROWDEN
John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades Council, opened the council’s Leadership Awards Dinner on Aug. 26 by outlining the true nature of the “right-to-work” ripoff the Missouri Legislature and Governor Eric Greitens are trying to force on working Missourians
“While we have many issues in our state that need addressing, one of the most pressing for us as workers impacts not only our union members, but EVERYONE who works for a living, whether or not they are members of a union,” Stiffler said. “That issue, of course, is the deceptively misnamed so-called ‘right-to-work,’ which has nothing to do with a person’s right to a job or their right to actually go to work but is nothing less than a ripoff of us all.”
THE RTW RIPOFF
Stiffler went on to outline the rip-off of “right-to-work” (RTW) for union members and all workers and their communities.
“It’s a ripoff of union members because it will allow non-members to get all the benefits of the union negotiated contract without paying one cent to the support of the union’s overhead that makes the contract possible. In other words, it forces union members to pay for the cost of supporting freeloaders,” Stiffler said
“It’s a ripoff of all workers because the facts show that in so-called ‘right-to-work’ states wages are lower, work-related injuries are more frequent, and employer paid benefits such as health care and pensions are fewer, if any at all.
“It’s a ripoff of our local communities because lower paying jobs mean less spending in local retail stores, which in turn means fewer people being hired.
“It’s a ripoff of our union firms, particularly construction firms and suppliers, because low paid, non-union workers will flood into Missouri and steal the good paying jobs of taxpaying Missouri workers. And that will be doubly true if the Legislature kills the Prevailing Wage law as they are threatening to do next year.
“It’s a ripoff of Democracy because it injects the government right into the collective bargaining process by telling employers they can’t negotiate a specific issue in their contract with their union, an issue that’s important to the employer and their employees alike. So much for ‘less government’ in our businesses.
“What it is, is a payoff by bought-and-paid-for politicians to their corporate funders who want to be able to totally dictate lesser working conditions and lower pay for their employees, efforts designed not to help the workers that make the company profitable, but instead to help their company’s bottom line…and, of course, their own bonuses and stock options,” Stiffler said.
TAKING THE FIGHT TO THE VOTING BOOTH
Stiffler then noted the successful drive by Missouri workers to collect 310,567 signatures on a Citizens’ Referendum petition to halt implementation of the RTW law passed by the Missouri Legislature and signed by Republican Governor Eric Greitens in February until Missourians have a chance to vote on the measure in November 2018.
“Instead of allowing paid-for politicians kowtowing to their big money spenders and the dark money groups to force a law that will hurt all workers, Missourians will have their say next November, and it’s about time!” Stiffler said.
“Until then, this terrible law will not be implemented, and that’s a blessing for all workers,” Stiffler said, adding that the next step, between now and November 2018, is to educate everyone we know about the truth of so-called RTW.
“I would urge everyone here to make a concerted effort in the coming months to educate your family, friends and co-workers about this issue,” Stiffler said. “We are all impacted. And we all need to be involved in making sure we defeat this terrible law next year.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: You can support the effort to defeat RTW by contributing to the “$8 for 8” campaign, which plays off the fact that working Missourians collected enough signatures to qualify the Citizens’ Referendum for the ballot in all eight of Missouri’s congressional districts. You can contribute by visiting wearemo.org and clicking the red ‘Donate’ button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.