With all southern Midwest labor eyes on Kansas' paycheck deception fight, a series of anti-worker bills are quietly making their way through the Missouri legislature that could could turn The Show Me State into a new battleground for controversial labor laws.
It’s no coincidence that the Americans for Prosperity agenda is being thrust upon Missouri, one of the purplest states in the union, as the Tea Party scrambles to work their radical policies into shape in what is becoming a "now or never" moment for the fading Right-Wing movement.
Republicans in Missouri are poised to move ahead with a bill prohibiting unions from using automatic paycheck deductions for political activities (the aforementioned paycheck deception as labor supporters call it). In addition, Rep. Casey Guernsey’s HB34 is currently being debated by the Workforce Development and Workplace Safety committee which would allow school districts to exempt themselves from prevailing wage requirements if their school board voted to do so. Laborers International Union of Americal (LiUNA) Local 264 provided this checklist of what Missourians need to know concerning anti-prevailing wage laws:
• Anti-prevailing wage bills are all about politics. They won’t create jobs and they won’t get our state’s economy back on track. The bill will benefit the same greedy CEOs and corporations that have been outsourcing jobs at the expense of middle class Missouri workers.
• Eliminating prevailing wage laws for school construction would mean that school district construction projects will be more likely to be built by cut-rate contractors, regardless of quality or loss of Missouri jobs. Suspending or eliminating prevailing wage protections would put the interests of shady out-of-state contractors ahead of the businesses large and small that are the backbone of our state’s economy.
• Without prevailing wage rules, out-of-state, low wage workers will displace local workers and wage standards. Out-of-state contractors will undercut local contractors with their low-wage workers, pocketing the wage difference in profits and driving local contractors out of business. Missouri’s construction workers should get the jobs their taxes pay for.
Here is video of Guernsey introducing the bill:
On the paycheck deception front, the Senate Governmental Accountability committee will debate SB71, a slightly modified version of a similar ALEC-backed bill that has made its way to several statehouses in the past year. According to LiUNA 264,
• These bills are about politics -- not economics. Paycheck Deception bills are designed by politicians to hurt their political opponents by eliminating public employee unions. Politicians want more power over the middle class workers, so they are stripping workers of their rights.Republicans in Missouri appear prepared to please their wealthy donors before expediting the process of recovery for those who have borne the brunt of the economic crisis. Mike Louis, the new Secretary-Treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, has asked the state’s leaders to refocus on rebuilding the state’s economy:
• Paycheck deception bills are all about giving billionaires even more power to write their own rules. All of the paycheck deception proposals would make it even easier for billionaire businessmen and corporate special interests to rig the system and write their own rules to help themselves.
• Extremist politicians are trying to weaken the voices of everyday heroes. This means cops, firefighters, nurses and teachers have less of a voice on things that matter to all of us.
• Paycheck deception bills would have negative consequences for all of us. Tilting power in favor of big money special interests will create an even more unbalanced system where regular people have even less power in the political process.
“Our elected leaders have an opportunity to pursue legislation that will move Missouri forward and create an economy that works for all,” said Louis. At a time when the economy continues struggling to recover and many families are still waiting for employment to pick up, Missourians need more economic security, not less. Divisive issues like so called ‘right-to-work’ and attacks on middle class wages won’t rebuild our state’s economy.”Speaking about the pre-filed bills, Louis told the Labor-Tribune,
“What all of these bills are aimed at is weakening the union worker’s voice. Instead of another year of tired attacks on middle class Missourians, elected officials of both parties should take this opportunity to support job creation and an economy that works for working people, including investing in our airports to encourage trade for Missouri, Medicaid expansion and investing in our energy infrastructure,” Louis said.
With these two bills becoming part of the fold there is fear among workers in Missouri that “Right-to-Work” will rear its ugly head again in 2013. Missouri’s divided nature on the issue has prevented the bill from becoming a reality for decades. However, the same could once be said of Michigan which recently succumbed to anti-union pressure during their lame duck session.
In Missouri, though, the last line of defense may be Governor Jay Nixon. The Democrat has come out strongly against “Right-to-Work.” House Speaker Tim Jones, who has been at the center of the sudden push for anti-union legislation, told the News-Leader,
“(Michigan) Speaker (Jase) Bolger has something I do not have on that issue. He has a governor that has been willing to lead, very sternly, very strongly, very aggressively, very boldly. I don't believe myself or Senator (Tom) Dempsey (Senate Pro Tem) have a partner on that issue," Jones said, referring to Missouri's Democratic governor, Jay Nixon.House Bill 77, which would implement “Right-to-Work,” currently lays dormant.