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Right to work backers go on TV to make their case

Missouri House Chamber
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
The chambers of the Missouri House of Representatives at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City.

Supporters of a Missouri right-to-work bill are launching the first of what they say will be a series of ad campaigns in the coming months in a bid to persuade state legislators to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.

The state arm of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group with ties to the Koch brothers, began Wednesday running a statewide cable TV ad campaign.

State director Patrick Werner said about $200,000 will be spent on the ads, which are to run until July 4.

The group and its allies are expected to run more ads as it gets closer to the General Assembly’s annual veto session in mid-September.

A labor coalition recently finished its first round of TV spots against the right-to-work measure, with more expected to air later this summer.

A right-to-work law would bar employers and unions from requiring all workers to pay dues or fees if a majority have voted to join a union. Backers say such a law would make  Missouri more economically competitive, particularly since several neighboring states have right-to-work laws.

“This is about worker freedom and doing the right thing for Missouri," said Werner.

Opponents say such a law would drive down wages and is really an effort by Republican backers to curb the power of unions, which often back Democratic candidates. Nixon contends that right-to-work laws hurt middle-class workers.

So far, 25 states have right-to-work laws.

The Missouri General Assembly approved such a measure for the first time during its last legislative session. But neither the state House or Senate had a veto-proof majority.

Nixon has questioned whether Republicans, especially in the House, will bring up the bill during the veto session. But some major GOP donors are pressing for a vote, in part to measure how much support such a bill could muster in an attempted veto-override.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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