The St. Louis Board of Aldermen is taking a stand against so-called "right to work" legislation that's moving through the Missouri Legislature.
The board voted unanimously Friday to oppose two bills being considered. One would bar labor contracts from requiring all employees to pay union fees. The other bill would require unions to get annual written authorization to collect fees that are automatically deducted from a worker's paycheck.
Ward 16 Alderwoman Donna Barringer equated such restrictions to how her uncles were treated in the 1930s.
"During the Depression, they would stand at Union [Boulevard] and Natural Bridge [Road] and the trucks would pull up and they would say 'get in this line if you'll work for a dollar a day,” she said.
“And then they'd say 'okay, move over here. Get in this line if you'll work for 50 cents a day,' and they'd move over here. Then they'd say 'get in this line if you'll work for 25 cents a day.' So, if you want to know what 'right to work is,' that's right to work," she said.
The St. Louis Board of Alderman has no official authority in Jefferson City, although many of the city's aldermen draw support from state labor unions.
Missouri's House speaker Tim Jones has said passing the legislation is a priority for him during the current session. Jones and other Republicans have argued the laws are needed to spur job growth.
Alderman Craig Schmid said voters should be wary if lawmakers approve the bills, as both measures would go to a statewide ballot later this year.
“It may be wolves in sheep's clothing: like 'workplace fairness' – we all support workplace fairness, but if that appears on the ballot we need to make sure people understand it's the same thing as ‘right to work’," said Shmid.
The resolution approved by the Board of Aldermen states that the “right to work” proposals would “harm Missouri’s families and threaten the livelihoods of working men and women.”