Missouri GOP Leaders Re-Introduce Union-Busting ‘Right to Work’ Bill; GOP Lieut. Gov. Targets it For Fall Referendum

By the St. Louis Labor Tribune and Press Associates

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.–Instead of focusing on creating jobs and strengthening Missouri’s economy, Republican leaders in the GOP-run state House of Representatives, under the influence of radical right-wing extremists, have once again filed legislation that would authorize a phony “right-to-work” (for less) law in Missouri.

And the extreme Rightist GOP Lieutenant Governor, Peter Kinder, wants to put right to work on the Show Me State’s ballot this fall, too.

Workers and their allies, having beaten back right to work in 2013, aided by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto threat, are gearing up for the battle again.

“Missouri’s elected leaders should work together to create jobs here in our state,” said Mike Louis, Secretary-Treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO.  “While it isn’t a surprise that extremist politicians would instead file a ‘right to work’ (for less) bill on the first day of session, it is shameful they would make this unnecessary and confusing bill their first priority for 2014.  It is time for our elected officials to work together to create good jobs and safe work places instead of trying to micromanage relationships between businesses and their employees.

“Right to work (for less) bills are wrong for Missouri.  It’s a corporate power grab that’s in the best interests of CEOs — not our state,” Louis said.

So-called ‘right to work’ laws, now in effect in more than 20 states, ban unions from collecting dues as part of their contracts with employers.  The unions then must rely on voluntary contributions, but still must all workers a contract covers, union or not.

The end result is to force the unions to defend workers but deprive unions of money to do so, thus emasculating them – and workers with them.

Nine anti-union bills were pre-filed in the Missouri legislature before its 2014 session opened.  Six are “right to work” bills, two are so-called “paycheck protection” bills to prevent unions from collecting dues and one is a prevailing wage bill to prevent contractors working on ‘disaster recovery’ projects from having to pay prevailing wages to their workers.

All are part of a nationwide push by big business, the Radical Right – led by the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – and their GOP puppets to strip workers of their rights, degrade their jobs, destroy their unions and trash their pay.

Two of the RTW bills seek to go around Nixon, whose veto killed other anti-worker GOP-sponsored legislation in 2013.  The two RTW bills would take the issue directly to the voters.

In the very first hours of pre-filing for the 2014 session, House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, and Republican floor leader John Diehl, R-Town & Country, joined Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, in introducing the union-busting legislation.

ALEC, the Radical Right corporate-financed lobby, sponsors the RTW bills in Missouri and is spending millions in states around the country promoting an agenda that is anti-union, anti-public schools, anti-voting rights, and for tax cuts for corporations and the rich.

In recent years, ALEC’s influence with 1,800 state legislators nationwide succeeded in getting RTW, a longtime business cause, passed in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.  All were previously strong union states.

And Kinder vowed to an ALEC confab in Chicago –- a conference in August that was surrounded by citizen and worker protests that tied up the city’s streets – that he would put Right to Work on the Missouri ballot this fall.

Bobby Dickens, a utility line foreman from Poplar Bluff, noted that numerous studies show ‘Right to Work’ means less jobs, lower wages and more dangerous workplaces.  He criticized Lichtenegger for “doing the bidding of special interest groups like ALEC.”

Sean Soendker Nicholson, executive director of Progress Missouri, said ALEC’s Right to Work bill represents a corruption and distortion of democracy.

“Missourians want legislators to represent and protect Missouri’s interests, not those of outside corporate interests working through secretive front groups,” he said. “These so-called ‘right to work’ bills are tired attempts to silence workers and harm the entire middle class in Missouri.”