Saturday, March 12, 2011

MO Senate to vote on anti-union bill as early as Mon.

The Missouri state Senate on Monday afternoon will take up an anti-labor piece of legislation. It's a right-to-work (for LESS) bill, yet another blatant attempt to weaken unions and to make it easier for corporations to cut workers' wages.

The Teamsters are fortunate to have Tim Meadows, vice president of Local 600 in St. Louis, serving as a state representative in the Missouri Legislature. Meadows explained to us in an interview why union members shouldn't fall for the false promise of right-to-work (for LESS). It has nothing to do with rights and nothing to do with work.  Said Meadows:
There are some members out there I know are saying right-to-work (for LESS) is great because they won’t have to pay union dues anymore. They don’t realize that right-to-work (for LESS) dumbs down the process, weakens the grievance procedure and compromises your children and grandchildren’s future. They’re only looking at their own selfish pocketbook and not at what’s waiting down the road for them. Collective bargaining has given us so many things. The reason people try to get a job in the union because we have better wages, better health care, better working conditions and grievances procedures. Everything is better.
Meadows is concerned that the bill might pass because Republicans have a large majority in the Senate.
It looks like we have several Republicans on our side, but we can’t say for sure how many will go our way. It looks hopeful, but I think we need to always be on guard, especially with everything going on now around the country.
We, the Democrats, are simply outnumbered. You could take our Democratic caucus and plug them into a phone booth. We only have eight Democratic senators, so we have to reach across the aisle to some of our Republican friends, and we have several, including Sen. Mike Kehoe from Jefferson City, who was a Teamster at one time.
Should it pass the Senate, the bill would then go to the House. Gov. Jay Nixon has said he'd veto the bill if it comes to his desk.

Meadows believes we need to view it as a viable threat, especially after what happened in Wisconsin. 

Right-to-work (for LESS) has come up twice before in Missouri. It was on the ballot in 1978. Meadows said union density was then as high as 25 percent of the workforce.
We spent about $3 million fighting it and beat it back. But now we’re looking at probably a $15 to 20 million fight, so it’s a whole different animal.
In 1986, we had a governor by the name of John Ashcroft, and he started talking about right-to-work legislation and trying to get it to pass. We sprung into action and the Joint Council here sent busloads of people to Jefferson City. There were probably 60,000 people at the Capitol. Ashcroft walked to the front steps and made a speech, telling the people he could tell by their attendance they were concerned about his stance on right-to-work, and as long as he was governor, he said there would be no right-to-work laws passed. Everyone went wild, then got back on the buses and went home. It was very surprising how this happened, and really shows the importance of people raising their voices for what is right.
Here's how Missourians can contact their state Senators to oppose the bill:
Go to the web page /. Type in your zipcode and a page will come up with a list of your elected representatives. Click on your state Senator and you will see an email link on their page. Email your senator to let him or her know you oppose right-to-work (for LESS).