In a resounding victory for the IBEW and working families, Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law on Aug. 7 that had been passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by former Gov. Eric Greitens.
|International President Lonnie R. Stephenson and St. Louis Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs knocked on doors the weekend before Missouri voters' overwhelming rejection of right-to-work.
More than 67 percent voted “no” on Proposition A, which repealed the law passed in February 2017. The state’s constitution allows for a referendum on any legislation passed by the General Assembly if approximately 100,000 voters sign petitions requesting one. Right-to-work opponents gathered more than three times that, setting up the August election.
“Missourians reaffirmed what we’ve known for a long time,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, who visited the Show-Me state last week and assisted with the get-out-the vote push. “Right-to-work is bad news for all working Americans, not just union members. That’s the message you get when you put this issue in the hands of the people instead of the politicians.
“I am so proud of our members in Missouri and throughout the nation who helped make this a reality. It’s a powerful reminder that when we work together, we achieve great things.”
St. Louis Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs noted the Legislature moved the vote up to the August primary from November because it thought it would help Proposition A’s chances of passing. Instead, it was voted down in 99 of the state’s 114 counties, most of which are dominated by Republican politicians. IBEW local unions worked long hours with their allies to help defeat the law.
“In our campaign, we never made it a Republican or Democrat issue,” Jacobs said. “We never made it a union versus nonunion issue. We made it about the working men and women in the state of Missouri and what’s best for them.”
Right-to-work laws allow employees covered by a collectively-bargained contract to enjoy its benefits without paying their fair share to cover its costs. They also suppress wages. Missouri workers are paid at a higher rate than six bordering states with right-to-work laws.
St. Louis Local 1 members handed out leaflets informing voters why they should vote no on Proposition A. More than 67 percent voted no on Aug. 7, overturning the state’s right-to-work law.
The fight captured the attention of working people across the country, many of whom took part in phone-banking operations to get out the vote. They also put their money where their mouth was. Pro-corporate organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, which are accustomed to having a financial advantage, complained about not having as many resources as right-to-work opponents.
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, a member of Portland, Ore., Local 125, traveled to the state several times and was in Kansas City during the August vote.
“The victory in Missouri follows a national wave of inspiring activism that is leading to life-changing collective bargaining agreements and electoral triumphs that remind America the path to power runs through the labor movement,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
Missouri political director Rudy Chavez, a former Kansas City Local 124 president, said the win will be even more significant if the momentum continues and voters vote out politicians who supported right-to-work and other measures that harm working families. Some Republican politicians have said they will bring right-to-work up again when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
“We voted our pocketbooks,” Chavez said. “We need to remember in November.”