Jake Hummel

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 1 p.m., Wed., Feb. 11)

By a voice vote, the Missouri House gave first round-approval Wednesday to a bill to bar construction unions and employers from requiring all employees to join a union and pay dues if a majority votes to organize. The bill, HB 582, is sponsored by Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-Berkeley.

----- Our earlier story

State Rep. Courtney Curtis, left, and St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, right, speak a press conference last year. Curtis is sponsoring "right to work" legislation aimed at construction unions, which he contends haven't done enough to bring minori
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

When it comes to having a “big tent” for its members, Missouri Democrats have talked the talk – and walked the walk. 

Rep. Keith English of Florissant left the Democratic Party on Tuesday and announced he will serve as an independent.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant, has left the Missouri Democratic Party and is becoming an independent. He says the decision stemmed from his personal beliefs, which “do not seem welcome among current party leadership."

But some of English’s colleagues say his defection has more to do with comments he made about Michael Brown’s shooting death.

English said in a press release that the Democrats are no longer the party “of Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy.” He says he’s “leaving the party because the party left me.”

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

When it comes to the Missouri House and next Tuesday’s election, leaders in both major parties agree that the stakes are low.

There’s little doubt that Republicans will maintain historically huge majorities in the General Assembly’s lower chamber. They may even pick up another seat or two. Democrats, meanwhile, see their best hope in making a few gains of their own.

Still, House Republican Campaign Committee executive director Scott Dieckhaus admits a bit of uncertainty.

Missouri AFL-CIO

For the first time in 18 years, the Missouri AFL-CIO has all new leadership at the top. And both new leaders are from the St. Louis area.

New president Mike Louis of St. Charles says renewed energy will be needed to block “relentess’’ attacks against labor unions and the middle class by some conservative Missouri legislators.

“It’s a new day,’’ said Louis, 60, in an  interview Tuesday, just hours after his official election by the state labor union’s executive board.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

Fast food workers and supporters held a press conference today in response to a recent report from the University of California-Berkeley.

The report stated that the low wages of fast-food workers cost the public $7 billion a year in public assistance.

Gathered in front of an area McDonald’s, employees took turns talking about their experiences struggling to raise families and covering medical costs on their salaries.