Day Fifteen: Right-To-Work Step Two Complete

Missouri House Representatives met today, Thursday, Febuary 2nd (or better known as Groundhog Day) to discuss and vote on the Right-To-Work Act and Republicans rejoice as the bill was finally approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives this afternoon with a 100-59 vote count (16 of those 59 being republicans, mind you).

It was the number one goal of Republican legislators upon the inauguration of Republican Governor Greitens. Previously, Jay Nixon had vetoed all efforts to make the Show-Me State right-to-work and now with a conservative majority in the executive and legislative branches, Republicans now have the upper hand in this issue.

As of January 2017, every Missouri bordering state with the exception of Illinois currently allows employees to choose whether or not they want to join a union and, according to Speaker of the House, Todd Richardson, are doing better in regards to wages and unemployment than Missouri is.

“If you look at Missouri’s economy, while we’ve seen improvement in the unemployment rate, we have not seen wages growing in this state at a rate anywhere near what they’re growing in the rest of the country,” Richardson says. “The growth is happening in right to work states.”

Among other things, Right-To-Work was a law that now-Governor Greitens promised to place priority on for the future of Missouri. Shortly following this topic will likely be other union-related issues such as prevailing wage which the House discussed early last week.

Democrats have notoriously opposed this issue.

“This bill is wrong for workers,” says Democratic Representative Cora Faith Walker from St. Louis County. “Workers have the right to organize…You expect other people to come in a facility… and benefit and not pay dues. We call that freeloading.”

Walker claims that working conditions are poor. “Companies are greedy and they’re still greedy,” she says.

Before the passage of the bill, Representatives opted to add additional amendments vying to subject the act to a ballot of the people rather than legislature which was overturned in a vote of 91-64.

Representative Rowland, who is a republican, opted for a five-year sunset of the bill which would enact Missouri as a Right-To-Work state until 2022 where future legislators could determine the success rate of the bill and vote again at a later date.

The House failed to adopt the notion.

With the House accepting and voting in favor towards the terms and conditions of SB-19, the bill will be sent to Governor Greiten’s desk and Missourians will likely see their state as the 28th state in the U.S. to become Right-To-Work.

On a more federal level, there’s every chance that a national Right-To-Work law will come into effect in the near-future.

According to the Huffington Post, U.S. House Republicans intend to introduce a countrywide Right-To-Work law this coming Wednesday that, if passed, would become a moot point for Democratic Legislators currently fighting in their states.

Republicans now control both Houses of Legislature as well as the White House for the first time in at least eight years making the law that much easier to enact.

Regardless, Governor Greitens is making good on his campaign promises to keep government out of business. His proposed Hair Braiding Freedom Act passed through its first committee this week and, next week, doing away with prevailing wage will be next on the agenda.

Day Thirteen: Separating Govt. and Business

Missouri Legislature is taking advantage of this conservative majority by going after labor unions. Last week, Missouri Senate enacted their own version of a Right-To-Work bill following a House bill that was approved last week. Today, the House Committee for Economic Development met to discuss abolishing Prevailing Wages which would allow companies to set their own costs for labor workers.

Currently, they are to adhere to a set wage established by each county and this is all in an effort to benefit both small and large companies, as conservatives are obviously in support of a smaller presence of government in corporations.

It was an issue that Governor Greitens was originally passionate about, as well as Right-To-Work, and intends to make it a priority. In all likelihood, with a republican majority in the legislative and executive branches, labor workers will see a more competitive pay rate sometime in the near-future.

 

Day Five: Unions versus Republicans

Missouri House of Representatives held their first major public committee hearing regarding the right-to-work bill. Sponsors Holly Rehder, Bill White, Bill Lant, Rick Bratton, and Charlie Davis (all republican) made statements for the bill and then opened up the floor to public testimonies, alternating between in favor and opposed.

MO State Treasurer Eric Schmitt made the first positive testimony claiming that right-to-work states would create a lower tax burden, create more union members, and would create a better economy mirroring that of South Carolina’s which has been RTW for over seventy years.

There was a lot of tension throughout the room as Missouri citizens came to protest the bill, sporting anti-RTW t-shirts as well as signs (which were barred by Representative Rehder). Those opposed claim that a legislative decision disrupts the citizens right to vote among the people and threatens both union workers and those involved in unions. Those in favor claim that the requirement of union dues drops wages further below the minimum wage and view the bill as a constitutional freedom.

Statistics were spewed back and forth between for and against, which is to be expected. Representative Bratton responded to the statistics: “Numbers aren’t nearly as relevant as the freedom aspect” and Representative Lant said: “At least there will be jobs” which created a small uproar throughout the crowd.

The committee actually seemed rather balanced (as far as those who chose to speak) between for and against and, while public hearings are a necessity, I highly doubt representatives will be budging on their opinions regarding this issue. Given the fact that all the sponsors were republican (which I’m assuming all bills have same-party sponsors), this will not be a gray area issue and will ultimately come down to the number of republicans in the committee and the number of democrats. Currently, there are nine republicans in the Committee of Economic Development and only four democrats; therefore, even assuming that those opposed were managed to persuade 1/3 of the republicans present, it still wouldn’t be enough to prevent the bill from passing through the House.