Bipartisan opposition defeats RTW, paycheck deception in Mo. Legislature's 2014 session
By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – As the closing bell rings on the 2014 legislative session, Missourians can be relieved that commonsense bipartisanship prevented two major attacks on Missouri workers from moving forward.
Right-to-Work and paycheck deception bills were priorities for Missouri extremists, led by Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R-Eureka), and a small group of Washington lobbyists, but solidarity through the We Are Missouri Coalition, educational outreach and a commitment to working across the aisle prevented these unfair, deceptive and unnecessary bills from advancing.
“It is easy to be cynical about politics, but the true bipartisan effort that defeated Right-to-Work and paycheck deception this year is something Missourians can take to heart,” said Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Mike Louis.
“Members of both parties were willing to stand up to well-funded national groups pushing these unfair and pointless legislative attacks. Equally inspiring, thousands of working Missourians got involved and their handwritten letters, phone calls, emails and visits to Jefferson City had a big impact on their elected officials. Let’s hope that looking ahead, even more of our elected leaders are willing to stand up to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) agenda and listen to the people who live and work here in the Show Me State.”
POLITICAL GOODIES AND WORK UNFINISHED
While extremists in the Missouri legislature were busy pushing anti-worker, anti-middle class legislation aimed at pleasing their corporate backers, they also worked in some goodies for their friends:
• Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto on a dangerous and unfair tax cut bill that will reduce the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6 percent and provide a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual returns, threatening education funding and the state’s AAA bond rating. As it is written, 52 percent of the tax savings will go to the top 7 percent of taxpayers. For working Missourians earning a median income of $44,000 a year, the savings will amount to $32.
• Mucking up a proposed fix to the school transfer law by insisting that students in unaccredited districts have an option to go to private schools, at the expense of taxpayers in their home districts.
• Passing a bogus early voting initiative meant to confuse voters over the grassroots effort to expand voting opportunities in the state.
• Failed to raise the minimum wage for struggling low-wage Missourians.
• Failed to expand Medicaid eligibility, meaning nearly 300,000 working Missourians will spend another year without access to affordable health care because their income level places them in the coverage gap.
• Failed to address campaign contribution limits.
• Failed to address tax credit reform.
“Every legislative session is an opportunity for our elected officials to make our state better for the people who sent them to Jefferson City,” said Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs with Justice. “Raising the minimum wage, passing real early voting and expanding Medicaid would have made concrete improvements to the lives of Missourians.
“Instead, far too much time and energy was spent on bills that never should have been pushed in the first place,” Granich said. “Right-to-Work and paycheck deception bills are all about a national agenda. While it is good news that both are dead for the moment, the time wasted on pointless attacks on working people comes at a high cost.”
EFFORT PAID OFF
House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), a member of IBEW Local 1, was ebullient over the concerted effort made by labor and its allies in defeating the anti-worker measures – from the massive rally hosted by the state Building
and Construction Trades Council on the Capitol lawn in March, to lobbying efforts and rank-and-file members’ thousands of phone calls and letters.
“It was just a fantastic effort, and it paid off,” Hummel said. “I think people have recognized that the way to prosperity is not on the backs of working families of our state. I think that transcended party lines.”
State Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), a member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1 and president of the state Building and Construction Trades Council, said the combined efforts of union members, along with the Democratic caucuses ability to filibuster paycheck deception, paid off for this session.
But Walsh said the fight won’t be over until more balance is achieved in the Republican-controlled legislature.
“This is going to be something we face every year until we get more members in these chambers,” Walsh said.
Defeat of anti-worker legislation in Missouri sends a strong message
Missouri could become a model for defeating anti-union, anti-worker initiatives in other states.
“Defeating the attempt in Missouri to enact so-called Right-to-Work and paycheck deception legislation sends a strong signal that working people will stand together to prevail over outrageous attacks on their rights,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
“This victory is a testament to common-sense bipartisanship and a direct blow to corporate interests whose goal is literally to hurt working people. Along with our allies, we’ll continue to build upon our successes and move forward to create better opportunities for all workers.
“Missouri reminds us that big corporations and extreme ideologues are relentlessly focusing their money and resources against the interests of workers. Only by fighting back together can we ensure a better life for all Americans.” [/box]