Workers’ futures on chopping block as Republicans introduce 9 anti-worker bills

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MIKE LOUIS

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Nine bills designed to negatively impact Missouri workers, particularly union members and families, have now been pre-filed by Republicans in the Missouri legislature.

• Seven of them are right-to-work (for less) (RTW) bills designed to crush the ability of union to fight for, and represent, their members, and indirectly, ALL workers, union or not.

• Two are “paycheck deception” bills designed to restrict a union’s ability to collect dues thus financially starving the union so that it can’t do its job of representing its members.

• One impacts prevailing wages. A bill to prevent the governor from requiring the payment of prevailing wages on disaster recovery projects like the Joplin tornado. If passed, this would be a foot-in-the-door in the Republican’s on-going efforts to destroy prevailing wages on all projects where state funding is involved.

The RTW bills have been filed by Southeast Missouri Representatives Bill White (R-Joplin), Bill Lant (R-Pineville) and Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R-Eureka). Interestingly enough, their areas of the state are figuratively speaking, RTW areas as few unions flourish in out-state Missouri.

Despite the fact that RTW does not help stimulate economic development, the Republicans continue to use their phony mantra of “job creation” as the reason for trying to pass this anti-worker bill. A survey of site location specialists by Area Development Online shows that having a RTW law is not even in the top 10 reasons considered when looking for site locations.

THE DIRTY HAND OF ALEC

Several of the RTW bills emanate from the anti-worker group known as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) that is providing Republican legislators across the U.S. with a host of anti-worker, heavily pro-business bills.

It’s not surprising then that Speaker Jones is the recipient of $12,000 in “educational trips” sponsored by ALEC, which has spent more than $40,000 on such trips for many Missouri Republican legislators, according to a report from Progress Missouri, a progressive group.

Democrats have widely criticized lawmakers for using ALEC language because much of the organization’s funding comes from corporations that would benefit from bills that restrict union activity.

GOAL: WEAKEN MIDDLE CLASS

“I do not understand why they are so hard-set about taking us out and trying to weaken the middle class,” said Kevin Kollmeyer, a Joplin-area AT&T lineman and president of the Communication Workers of America Local 6313.

While the union bargains for wages and benefits, as well as a safe working environment that benefits all employees, union and non-union alike, he noted, under a RTW law an individual would not have to help support the union’s expenses in fighting to better these conditions.

“It’s sort of like renting a room in your house and you pay everything and this guy comes in and doesn’t pay,” he said, adding:

“Let’s make no mistake about it, labor unions are what created the middle class in the 1930s.

REAL OPPORTUNITY

"This upcoming session is an opportunity for our elected officials to work together to bring good jobs to Missouri, said Mike Louis, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

 “Jobs that provide good pay, good benefits and retirement security for ALL workers and at the same time provide an incredible boost to Missouri’s overall economy. It is a shame that these bills that have been filed show that some politicians are instead focused on doing the bidding of shady special interest groups like ALEC," Louis stressed.

"Right to Work bills, paycheck deception and repealing prevailing wage laws are simply wrong for Missouri,” he pointed out.

“Since unions are one of the few voices in Jefferson City fighting for the issues that help working Missourians, it is the special interest groups like ALEC who want to make it tougher for our voice to be heard or even heard at all.

NEED TO WORK TOGETHER

“ALEC's agenda won't stop there, the intent of this agenda is to silence workers, stop whistleblowers that protect worker safety and to eventually end workers voice in the workplace. That is why we all have to work together and why it is critical to stop these bills and ALEC's agenda in its tracks before Missouri workers and Missouri families fall to any more harm."

"I applaud our friends in the House and the Senate on both sides of the isle who continue to stand with Missouri workers and their families. It is those Representatives and Senators from all over the state who fight for us everyday. The working families in Missouri are proud to call them friends".

 (Some information for this article obtained from the Joplin Globe.)

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