Senate Pro Tem Mayer has made the “right to work” attack on Missouri’s middle class a top priority this legislative session. To accomplish his goals, he hand-selected a committee chaired by anti-worker organization ALEC-member Jane Cunningham. Also on the committee, the sponsor of two “Right to work” bills, Luann Ridgeway from Clay County.
Ridgeway and Mayer gave testimony straight out of the National Right to Work Foundation’s playbook. They told a story of a Missouri standing alone in suffering regional unemployment and of workers shackled by burdensome forced membership. They shrugged off lower wages as “regional adjustments” and Ridgeway said she “can’t believe that would be true” when asked by Senator Wright-Jones about lower workplace safety in so-called right to work states.
To get to the core issue, Senator McKenna asked Ridgeway if she wants to eliminate unions.
The Senator from Clay County refused to answer and changed the subject. When others testified for and against the bills, a stark pattern emerged. A broad cross-section of Missouri business owners and workers gave testimony on why “right to work” is wrong for Missouri. Businesses small and large, Republicans and Democrats alike shared their concerns about this legislation.
The other side brought a few Missourians in support of “right to work,” but many of the proponents are far removed from the Heartland. They’d flown in supporters that make a living trying to eliminate unions in this country, and relocation firms that help ship our jobs far from our borders. A handful of Missouri’s anti-union contractors also gave testimony, and it was interesting to see how far from the facts they would stray. For example, multiple testifiers for the bill were under the impression that contracts could be written in “right to work” states to only favor a few, or only favor the members.
There’s no doubt that the Missouri AFL-CIO and our allies put together a strong and compelling case. But many on the committee have their minds made up. When SB 206 comes before the same committee, General Laws, we may see more of their strategy. This hearing already made it plain as day where several of the members stand. The work we are doing to educate our members, their families and the public-and the Missouri House of Representatives-is going to be critical. [Join the Stop Right-to-work-for-less in Missouri Facebook Cause]