Citizens all over the state submit nearly three times the signatures needed to trigger statewide vote to exercise citizen veto of SB 19
By TIM ROWDEN
Jefferson City – Some 5,000 Missourians from across the state filled the Capitol Rotunda Aug. 18 as citizens representing the state’s eight congressional districts announced the delivery of hundreds of thousands of voters’ signatures in an historic effort to repeal the so-called “right-to-work” bill signed by Governor Eric Greitens in February.
Missouri workers and union volunteers with the We Are Missouri coalition collected 310,567 signatures – nearly three times the number needed – to trigger a statewide vote on the anti-union, anti-worker law to let voters, not bought-and-paid-for politicians and their dark money special interests, decide what is right for working Missourians.
Senate Bill 19 would prohibit companies from freely negotiating labor contracts that require workers covered by a union contract to either pay dues or, if they chose not to be a member of the union, to pay a “fair share” fee for the union representation they receive – allowing freeloaders to enjoy all the benefits of union representation without paying one red cent to support the overhead necessary to run the union. Violations by companies would be punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.
‘RTW’ IS WRONG
“‘Right-to-work’ is wrong. It’s wrong for Missouri workers. It’s wrong for Missouri families. It’s time for Governor Greitens and extreme politicians to stop doing the bidding of their dark money donors and begin fighting for Missouri families,” said Lori Giannini, a 12-year United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655 member from St. Charles County who works as a grocery clerk at Schnuck’s.
“This referendum will guarantee that Missouri employers and their employees can work together in the best interests of their businesses without government interference,” said Dennis Palmer, a union electrical contractor from Columbia.
FACTS ARE FACTS
“Extreme politicians and dark money interests may not like it but the facts are the facts. Workers in ‘right-to-work’ states make $681 dollars less per month than workers in non-‘right-to-work’ states and the chances of being killed on the job is 49 percent higher in ‘right-to-work’ states,” said Quiema Spencer, a master pipefitter from Kansas City.
Those supporting RTW intentionally avoid other facts by not telling the whole truth on several key issues impacting RTW:
• That federal law requires the union to represent all workers covered by the contract, members and non-members alike. It’s the only membership organization in America under such a mandatory federal “you will represent” law.
• A worker covered by the contract does NOT have to join the union or pay union dues, but is required to pay a “fair share” fee to cover the union’s overhead for the representation they provide all workers.
VOTERS WANT THEIR VOICES TO BE HEARD
“We’ve come together and put in countless hours gathering signatures from voters at festivals, community events, door-to-door canvasses, parades — you name it,” said Bobby Dicken, a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 702 from Butler County. “These folks who’ve signed the petition want their voices to be heard — they want voters — not politicians — to make the final decision on whether so-called ‘right-to-work’” becomes law in Missouri.”
Workers rallied in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda, from the ground to the third floors, on Aug. 18 to announce the signature total and hear from some of the workers who helped organize the collection effort.
EIGHT OF EIGHT CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS
After announcing the signature total, workers, union members, retirees and supporters exited the Capitol to march down Main Street to the Secretary of State’s office, where hundreds cheered as state officials met campaign representatives to officially receive 163 boxes filled with 57,277 pages containing 310,567 signatures.
The minimum requirement to qualify for ballot placement is approximately 107,510 signatures in six of eight congressional districts; the signature effort collected nearly three times the amount required, including signatures from all 114 Missouri counties, with enough to qualify all eight congressional districts, an accomplishment unheard of in the history of such signature gathering campaigns in Missouri.
Submitted signatures will now be copied by the Secretary of State’s office, then sent to local election authorities for verification as part of the certification process for the November 2018 ballot.
The “Citizens’ Veto” special referendum provision in state law hasn’t been used since 1982, but when it has, voters have repealed laws 24 of the 26 times they’ve been placed on the ballot since 1914.
SUPPORT FROM STATE LAWMAKERS
“I think the people have spoken and they are not all union people,” said Representative Doug Beck (D-Affton), a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562. “This is democracy in action.”
Beck was one of several state lawmakers who opposed the passage of SB 19 but were unable to sway the Republican super majority in the Legislature.
In addition to Beck, those present at the rally included State Senator Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 1 and president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades; Representative Bob Burns (D-Affton), a retired member of Teamsters Local 600; and Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis), a member of Communication Workers of American Local 6300 and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, among others.
Greitens, dark money donors already fighting repeal effort
Certifying enough signatures to place so-called “right-to-work” on Missouri’s statewide ballot for voters to decide is only the beginning the repeal effort.
Dark money is already pouring in to defend the phony anti-union, anti-worker law.
Two nonprofits donated $600,000 in recent weeks to political action committees working to protect the law set to go into effect in Missouri on Aug. 28.
A Kansas City-based nonprofit called American Democracy Alliance donated $350,000 to a PAC called Liberty Alliance and $150,000 to a PAC called Missourians for Worker Freedom. The two Kansas City-based PACs share the same address and phone number and both oppose efforts to repeal “right-to-work.”
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ nonprofit, A New Missouri Inc., has donated a total of $350,000 to Missourians for Worker Freedom.
Greitens campaigned on passage of “right-to-work” and gleefully signed the anti-worker bill into law, and he is closely tied with efforts to thwart the repeal effort. His campaign finance director, Meredith Gibbons is helping raise money for Liberty Alliance.
Another large recent donation came from Joplin businessman David Humphreys, CEO of TAMKO Building Products. He donated $100,000 last week to Liberty Alliance, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Liberty Alliance also received a $100,000 check from St. Joseph-based Herzog Railroad Services, Inc. at the end of July.
Because both American Democracy Alliance and A New Missouri Inc. are nonprofits, they are not required to disclose their donors. That’s why their transactions are referred to as “dark money.”
American Democracy Alliance’s president is John Elliot of Smithville, MO, and its treasurer is longtime Jefferson City lobbyist Jewell Patek. It shares the same Kansas City address as Missouri GOP chairman Todd Graves’ law firm.
A New Missouri Inc. was founded by Greitens’ political team in February and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting the governor and attacking his political enemies, including Republicans brave enough to fight for workers.