Missouri is known as the “Show-Me State.” And working families showed just what they are made of in August when the Missouri AFL-CIO and its allies delivered to the secretary of state’s office more than 300,000 signatures from registered voters calling for an election next year before Missouri can think about implementing its Right-to-Work (for Less) law.
Geographically, Missouri is squarely in the center of the United States. Politically, it is in the center of the fight taking place all around the country regarding workers’ rights.
In one of the first acts following the 2016 gubernatorial and legislative elections, the Missouri House and Senate ramrodded in early 2017 an anti-worker RTW bill which newly elected Governor Eric Greitens quickly signed. RTW was to take effect on August 28.
But there was one little hiccup in the effort to steamroller working people. The Missouri constitution allows legislative action to be overturned by the state’s voters if 1) they obtain valid signatures from 5 percent of the registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts, and 2) the voters in the next scheduled statewide election cast a majority of ballots to upend it.
The Missouri AFL-CIO’s goal of 100,000 signatures was obliterated! Union members, families and friends surpassed the 5 percent mark in all eight congressional districts – the first time this was accomplished in Missouri history.
Now, the battle is engaged to win at the ballot boxes in November 2018. Already, hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money is flooding into anti-worker not-for-profit set ups. In fact, patrons at one Missouri county courthouse were greeted in August by four pro-RTW “campaigners” decked out in holsters with pistols, according to the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune.
Upending the RTW measure will be an expensive, time-consuming effort. However, we know union members are up to the task. Last year, the Virginia AFL-CIO led a grassroots force that defeated an amendment to enshrine RTW in the state’s constitution. By door-knocking and phone calls, Virginia union members educated voters who defeated a proposed constitutional amendment for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Yet, Missouri’s anti-worker forces weren’t satisfied with shoving RTW down the throat of workers. They got the state legislature to eliminate project labor agreements for ventures using state funds. As we in the Labor Movement know, project labor agreements make sure that all contractors bidding for a job play by the same rules regarding prevailing wages, working conditions and benefits.
Then, to add insult to injury, the state legislature passed a bill disallowing localities to increase the minimum wage in their jurisdiction, and even rolled back already enacted measures in Kansas City and right here in St. Louis. That meant a long-sought and well-needed increase gained last year from $7.70 to $10 an hour was wiped out for thousands of low-wage workers. Missouri’s governor, who pushed hard for the measure in the halls of the state capitol, allowed the bill to become law without his signature because – as some reports claim – he has aspirations for higher office.
Mirroring the highly successful petition drive against the RTW law, union members are joining with community activists to repeal the minimum wage rollback through another petition campaign across the state.
Missouri workers, like those all across the country, are fed up and fighting back. As Virginia union members and allies showed last year, they are standing up to and calling out the issues being pushed by extreme corporate interests. Their actions won’t be “show-me”; it will be to show the extremists the door,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils stand with the working women and men of the Missouri AFL-CIO as they fight to overturn extremist anti-worker measures – including Right-to-Work (for Less), elimination of project labor agreements and rollbacks of minimum wages; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils remain vigilant to repel any and all other attacks on workers that may arise around the country while pushing for measures that will improve conditions for them and their families.
Passed 2017 MTD Convention