Your Right to Work for Less!

As a right-to-work law appears inevitable, Missouri AFL-CIO turns to voters

By Celeste Bott St Louis Post-Dispatch

JEFFERSON CITY • As GOP lawmakers and an incoming governor vow to make Missouri the 27th right-to-work-state, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis has filed several versions of an initiative petition that would amend the state constitution to protect union negotiating rights.

A right-to-work law, which would limit the ability of labor unions to collect dues from members, has been a longtime priority for Republican legislators who found a continual roadblock in Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

But while Nixon has used his veto pen to block the right-to-work legislation in the past, on the grounds that it’s anti-worker, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has promised to sign it.

In the weeks leading up to their return to Jefferson City in January, leaders of the Legislature’s GOP super-majorities said it’s the top task in their pro-business 2017 agenda, and several lawmakers have already filed right-to-work proposals.


The push was largely financed by David Humphreys, a Joplin roofing company magnate who spent millions on candidates who support labor reform, including Greitens.

Louis’ petition for the 2018 ballot would essentially reverse any right-to-work law passed during the upcoming session by giving employers and employees the “unalienable” right to negotiate contracts that would require workers to pay fees covering the costs of union representation.

 “That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing,” it reads. “No law or ordinance shall restrict or impair an agreement which requires employees to support their chosen collective bargaining representative.”

In a statement, Louis said such negotiations were essential to ensuring fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions.

“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.

The initiative petition process has become an increasingly popular way for Missouri activists, particularly Democrats, to push agenda items that wouldn’t be palatable to the GOP-led Legislature. Recently, that’s included efforts to raise the tax on cigarettes, limit campaign contributions and legalize medical marijuana.

But it’s a difficult and arduous process to get a referendum on the ballot, one that requires approval of the secretary of state and attorney general, analysis of fiscal impact by the state auditor, and a certain number of signatures from registered voters.


Response, December 14, 2016,   John Hanno,

A big thank you to outgoing Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for consistently standing up for workers. With a Republican Governor and both houses of the Missouri legislature controlled by Republi-cons, the courageous minority Democrats will have their work cut out for them.

The simple fact is, right to work means right to work for less. Sure, you can depress wages for your fellow workers and neighbors and it might benefit your own cost of living a bit; but eventually it will come back to harm all workers. Sure, we can all work for peanuts and all that crap coming from 3rd world countries will be cheap. You can buy all the crap you want, crap that will end up in garage sales 6 months from now but what is that doing to your community? What the hell is that doing to our environment?

We now have a contracted manufacturing sector; lost 60,000 or so manufacturers. 71% of our economy is now dependent on retail. More and more folks are just barely getting by. 75% of American’s are one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Adult children are still living in their parents basements well into their 30’s because they’re hobbled with a 30 year mortgage of student debt. They can’t get a living wage job that will allow them to prosper and pay off debt. There’s now more student debt than consumer debt. These young people can’t get married or buy a home. They can’t even pay rent or support themselves without a living wage.

And the dimwit Republi-cons wonder why the economy is growing at such a slow rate. Dah! Old farts like myself don’t buy anything except gasoline and food. We already have everything we need. Is it any wonder why erstwhile great companies like Sears Roebuck are going bankrupt?

I worked for almost 50 years for a dozen different unions at successful fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies. All my jobs paid living wages. I made $20 an hour as an industrial electrician/electronic technician in 1989, almost 30 years ago. Now thanks to the Republi-cons decades long war on workers and the middle class, started by Regan, those same jobs now pay $13 or $14 per hour. And they wonder why no one will take those dangerous crap jobs. I can work under the table for $45 per hour. But how does that improve our economy. I don’t pay taxes.

Republi-cons just don’t understand the concept of community, of working together to benefit all Americans, not just themselves or the super rich oligarchs like the Koch brothers, who sponsor anti-worker right to work laws. How much money is enough for them? Like Ted Kennedy said, “Where is the limit to their greed?”

Missouri will soon follow Wisconsin, Indiana and other red states in the race to the bottom. No, matter how much workers offer to give up to the employers (like the steel union tried with Carrier in Indiana), it’s never enough. Carrier said they would have to work for $5 an hour, lower even than the federal minimum wage. Even with the $7 million payoff Indiana Gov. Pense gave Carrier, they’ll move the rest of the jobs to Mexico within a couple of years.

After all the unions and collective bargaining are gone, good luck sitting down with the company lawyers and asking for a raise by yourself. Keep fooling yourselves; let yourselves be bamboozled by the evil plutocrats. But if you have any sense, you’ll support progressive Democrats and Independents who place workers rights ahead of more money for the likes of Drumph. John Hanno

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

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