Right To Work | St. Louis Public Radio

Right To Work

Members of the Missouri State Senate work through the final day of the General Assembly's legislative sessions.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s workers will bear the brunt of sweeping policy changes that were approved during the 2017 session.

With Republicans firmly in control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, they took the opportunity to back long-awaited policy proposals, including making it harder for employees to sue for discrimination and blunting the power of labor unions.

Members of labor unions watch speakers at a rally last year in St. Charles.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

International Workers’ Day, often marked by protests, marches and celebrations by organized labor, may be muted in Missouri this year due to restrictions passed by the state legislature.

“We’ve definitely taken a few hits this year, there’s no doubt,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

Updated 6 p.m. April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among the only states with an abortion notification law — The only thing Missouri lawmakers must do in the final two weeks of 2017 legislative session is pass the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

But there are a whole lot of things they could do — some of which Gov. Eric Greitens wants them to do — such as tightening abortion regulations, raising the standard for workplace discrimination and creating the last-in-the-country prescription drug monitoring program.

Gina Walsh, April 2017
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh.

 

The Bellefontaine Neighbors Democrat is the leader of Senate Democratic Caucus, which has shrunk in recent years to nine members after Republicans took over scores of seats in outstate Missouri. Even though Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, the minority party can still use the filibuster to block or force changes to legislation.

 

Holly Rehder, March 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Rep. Holly Rehder for the first time.

The Sikeston Republican is serving her third term in the Missouri House representing the 148th District in southeast Missouri, including parts of Scott and Mississippi counties.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers wrapped up the first half of the 2017 legislative session having achieved the session's top priority: making Missouri a right-to-work state.

Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 19 into law last month. It bars labor unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues and fees as a condition for employment.

 A right-to-work law could result in less money for unions — and that could weaken their political power, critics say.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

Organized labor was able to stop “right to work” in Missouri for decades, most notably when voters rejected a 1978 ballot item. But their luck ran out last month when Gov. Eric Greitens, who says it’ll spur job creation, signed right to work, which bars private-sector unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues.

The true economic impact of the law on Missouri’s estimated 260,000 union members, which goes into effect Aug. 28, probably won’t be clear for some time. And some unions are trying to challenge the law’s passage. But according to responses to St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network, many of Missouri’s union members don’t see a lot of reasons to celebrate the policy’s implementation.

Sen. Ryan Silvey in February 2017
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Sen. Ryan Silvey back to the program.

Brad Kafka is vice chair of Polsinelli’s national Labor and Employment practice group and leads the firm’s St. Louis Labor and Employment practice group.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this week, Gov. Eric Greitens signed right-to-work legislation into law in Missouri. He signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, and goes into effect on Aug. 28.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs legislation making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state at a ceremony Monday in Springfield. (Feb. 6, 2016)
Scott Harvey | KSMU

Gov. Eric Greitens took a road trip Monday in celebration of making Missouri the nation's 28th right-to-work state.

The Republican signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, at three ceremonies. The first one was in Springfield at an abandoned warehouse before a small crowd of supporters.

Members of labor unions watch speakers at a rally last year in St. Charles.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

In a purely technical sense, a right-to-work bill was sent Thursday to Gov. Eric Gretiens' desk after it passed through Missouri General Assembly.

But in reality, the seemingly endless fight to bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues ended last November at the Chase Park Plaza. That's when Democrat Chris Koster congratulated Greitens on his victory in the governor’s race. At that point, the measure essentially became a done deal.

The Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Legislative action here on Thursday by Sen. Jason Crowell would refer the "right-to-work" issue to voters next year.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 26 with Senate approval of right-to-work bill - The Missouri Senate has approved a bill to make Missouri a "right-to-work state,'' but a fight could still loom with the House over what union contracts would be affected.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens delivers his first State of the State address last week in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In just three weeks, Missouri saw the installation of a GOP legislative supermajority, the inauguration of Republican statewide officials and Gov. Eric Greitens’ first State of the State address. These ceremonies came as Missouri’s political leaders appear ready to pass seismic policy changes  – and deal with a worsening budget situation.

As is customary when I spent time at Missouri’s beautiful Capitol, I pulled together some odds and ends to provide a bit more context about the big-ticket items on the state’s legislative and executive radar.

Senator Pro Tem Ron Richard answers questions from reporters.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum welcomes Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard to the show for the first time.

Rosenbaum interviewed the Joplin Republican in Richard's Jefferson City office. Richard is the only legislator in Missouri history to serve as both the speaker of the Missouri House and the president pro tem of the Missouri Senate.

Tim Bommel I House Communications

(Updated January 18)  Members of the Missouri House have taken a big step toward delivering a right-to-work law to Missouri.

On Wednesday, the House initially passed state Rep. Holly Rehder’s legislation, which would bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. The Sikeston Republican’s bill, which passed 101-58, also paves the way for criminal penalties for anybody that violates the proposal.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during his first State of the State address in Jefferson City.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens used his first State of the State address to offer up a fairly conservative policy agenda, a slate of proposals that will likely find favor with Republicans who dominate the Missouri General Assembly.

A committee hearing on right to work brought proponents and opponents flocking to the Capitol.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

When it comes to “right to work,” there’s widespread disagreement about the policy’s potential effects on Missouri’s economy. But there’s no question that Missouri’s unions are about to experience seismic change.

Right to work is a form of shorthand that proponents use to describe laws that bar employers and unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. Missouri lawmakers are expected to pass right to work legislation shortly, which Gov. Eric Greitens plans to sign.

As Eric Greitens is sworn in today as Missouri’s 56th governor, he’s pledging to support the state’s constitution and to serve the more than 6 million people living in the Show Me state.   

Shortly after Greitens was elected in November, his spokesman, Austin Chambers said,  “… the governor’s priorities for this first session are jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform."

St. Louis Public Radio recently asked listeners and readers to share their priorities  for the new governor. In addition to issues Greitens has already raised, some of his new constituents cite discounts and tax breaks for older homeowners.

The Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Legislative action here on Thursday by Sen. Jason Crowell would refer the "right-to-work" issue to voters next year.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Not since Matt Blunt was governor of Missouri nearly a decade ago did the Republican Party control both the executive branch and both houses of the legislature. Even then, there were enough Democrats in both the House and Senate to block any veto override attempts, rare as they were then.

That will differ once Eric Greitens takes the oath of office and has the benefit of veto-proof GOP majorities in both chambers.

House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard spent time talking in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photos

House Speaker Todd Richardson joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast.

In his third appearance on the show, Richardson – a Republican from Poplar Bluff – lays out his key objectives for the coming legislative session. For the first time in eight years, the GOP will control the legislative and executive branches of Missouri state government.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, was one of the biggest proponents of using the previous question to pass "right to work."
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will become a right-to-work state. The chief question is how soon the General Assembly will put a version of the anti-union measure on the desk of soon-to-be Gov. Eric Greitens.

The other unknown is what particular form of “right to work’’ Missouri’s new law will take.

Under "right to work," unions and employers cannot require all workers in a bargaining unit to pay dues or fees. Although some versions of right to work say a worker cannot be required to join a union, federal law has barred such a requirement for a long time.

Missouri capitol
RebelAt | English Wikipedia

The Republican near-sweep of statewide offices in the Nov. 8 election in Missouri opens the path for a lot of changes in the state but none is as assured as the passage of “right to work” legislation, which would alter the ability of labor unions to require dues from members to work certain jobs.

The Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. Legislative action here on Thursday by Sen. Jason Crowell would refer the "right-to-work" issue to voters next year.
File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The start of December is the start of Missouri lawmakers pre-filing legislation for the 2017 legislative session.

One that has been controversial for some time is the effort to limit the power of labor unions by turning Missouri into a so-called right-to-work state. The effort in the House is being led by Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, left, presents Congressional Gold Medal to the widow of blues legend Johnnie Johnson, to mark his service in World War II.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is praising Missouri’s new governor-elect – Republican Eric Greitens – for reaching out to her in what she sees as a signal of possible cooperation, at least in some areas.

In an interview, McCaskill said the two talked right before Thanksgiving. “Governor Greitens called me and we had a great conversation,” she said.

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Tuesday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans Tuesday night experienced their greatest triumph in the Show Me State’s modern history. And Missouri Democrats had arguably their worst night ever.

Those two declarative statements may seem like hyperbole, but it’s pretty close to the truth. Tuesday marked the first time ever Republicans won seven statewide elections in a single night. And with commanding majorities in the Missouri General Assembly, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens will be in a profoundly powerful position to enact his agenda – and to sign longstanding GOP priorities into law.

Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, listens as fellow senators thank each other for their work.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State Sen. Scott Sifton knows a thing or two about high-stakes elections.

The Affton Democrat took part four years ago in the most competitive legislative race in the state against incumbent Sen. Jim Lembke. A lot more was on the line than just flipping the 1st District Senatorial seat: Lembke and Sifton were divided on a host of key issues, and Sifton’s victory gave the smallish Democratic caucus more firepower to achieve their agenda.

As he runs for re-election in a district that’s been historically close, Sifton sees similarly high stakes in his contest against Republican Randy Jotte. But it’s over an issue in which he and Lembke found agreement: “right to work.”

Bill Eigel
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Dale Singer welcome Republican Bill Eigel to the program for the first time.

Eigel is a St. Charles County-based businessman who emerged victorious in a highly competitive GOP primary for the 23rd District Senate seat. He faces Democrat Richard Orr this fall, but the 23rd District seat is considered to be a decidedly Republican seat.

Courtney Curtis
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum is joined by colleague Stephanie Lecci and St. Louis American reporter Rebecca Rivas. The trio welcomed state Rep. Courtney Curtis to the show for the first time.

The Ferguson Democrat won a competitive primary last week for re-election. Because winning the Democratic primary in his north St. Louis County-based district is tantamount to election, Curtis will likely get to serve a third term in the Missouri House after 2017.

Wikipedia

Regardless of whether Missouri becomes a battleground in the presidential contest, national labor leaders see the state as one of their top priorities this fall.

“Missouri has the most important governor’s race in the country going on right now,” said Richard Trumka, national president of the AFL-CIO, during an exclusive interview while he was in St. Louis over the weekend.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Not all of the news that you see and hear featured on St. Louis Public Radio comes from the St. Louis region itself—some of it comes from our reporters located in Jefferson City and Washington D.C. That would be Marshall Griffin and Jim Howard, respectively.

On Monday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” the two discussed the year’s biggest news from our nation’s capital and the capital of Missouri. 

Here’s some of what they discussed:

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