Missouri labor leader fights to ban so-called right to work legislation

ST. LOUIS — As Missouri prepares to become the next so-called right to work state, local AFL-CIO President Mike Louis has taken the fight directly to voters. Right to work laws, which have been pushed by corporate lobbying groups for decades at the state level, weaken unions and act as a method of de-funding them. They do this by allowing workers to choose not to join the union or pay dues in a unionized workplace, even though the union must still serve them and bargain collectively on their behalf.

On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, Louis filed several petitions with the Secretary of State’s office which will ask voters to amend the state constitution and guarantee workers’ the right to collectively bargain.

The proposed constitutional amendment is slated for the 2018 general election, and would amend Article 1. Section 29 to read:

“That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. No law or ordinance shall restrict or impair an agreement which requires employees to support their chosen collective bargaining representative. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restrictions on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the State of Missouri Shall be obligated to uphold these rights and under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement.”

In a prepared statement, Louis noted that:

“The people of Missouri voted for the incoming administration of this State in hopes of creating jobs with good pay, good benefits and safe working conditions. All of these items are discussed and negotiated between employers and employees and then voted on by the employees through their chosen representative.

We do not need the puppets of David Humphries [sic] 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.”

These recent attacks against workers’ rights has been funded by a local roofing tycoon and union-buster David Humphreys, who spent over $11 million this year supporting and lobbying for anti-union candidates and legislation.

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.

Please stay tuned as People’s World continues its coverage of this fight against so-called right to work in Missouri.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.