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Dec
2016
15

Desperate (Ballot) Measures: With MO GOP Set to Pass “Right-to-Work,” Labor Leader Strikes Early

Mike Louis, center, when former MO Gov. Nixon vetoed "Right-to-work"

Mike Louis, center, when former MO Gov. Nixon vetoed “Right-to-work”


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Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis is proposing a 2018 ballot initiative that would prevent the state from becoming the next “Right-to-work” state. With the legislature and governorship now under Republican control, the anti-union law looks inevitable.

Rather than wait around and watch it happen, Louis submitted a longshot initiative petition last week to change the state constitution and prevent “Right-to-work” in Missouri:

Louis concedes that the Republican-led Legislature and incoming Republican Gov. Eric Greitens are likely to enact a right-to-work law during the 2017 session that prohibits mandatory union fees in workplaces…Louis has filed several versions of an initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office that would ask voters to amend the constitution to ensure union negotiating rights.

The amendment would strictly prohibit the implementation of “Right-to-work” laws:

The initiative petition would amend the state Constitution to say that “no existing or future law” shall “impair, restrict or limit the ability of employees to negotiate, enter into and enforce any collectively bargained agreement with an employer that provides financial support for the representational services their collective bargaining representative performs.”

In context, the tactic seems less extreme than the lengths the right is willing to go in support of “Right-to-work.” The law has been repeatedly introduced for decades with dark money pouring in from all angles. Local roofing tycoon David Humphreys has been behind many of the recent union-busting efforts in Missouri. In 2016 alone, Humphreys supported and lobbied for anti-union candidates and legislation to the tune of $11 million. Even the technique for passing the law — introducing it in various forms at once — is reaching new levels of underhandedness:

As of December 1, House and Senate Republicans have filed: three so-called right to work bills, four bills repealing or limiting the union prevailing wage, one on “paycheck deception” (a rule restricting how labor organizations collect, report, and use their members’ dues money, and which creates unnecessary bureaucratic contortions for unions), and a collective bargaining measure that would require an election every two years to re-certify the exclusive bargaining representation of a collective bargaining unit.

Louis sees his initiative as protecting the working class from the elite. “We do not need the puppets of David Humphreys or any other corporate billionaire to pass laws to interfere with a process that has long made Missouri a great place to have a business and a great place to work,” Louis said. 

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