Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Effort to Take Down "Right to Work" in Missouri

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

An old friend of mine who, many years ago, served in our state legislature, used to offer this sage political advice:  "If you want to pick apples, you go to where the apples are."  Or, more to the political point, if you are a Democrat or a "progressive" running for office, get out and work those areas where Democrats reside - and work them hard!

Missouri is a conservative state with three sweet spots for Democrats:  Kansas City (Jackson County), Columbia (Boone County and the home of the University of Missouri), and St. Louis City.  Other than those limited areas, the state is awash in red.

Democrats do manage to get elected to statewide office in Missouri, but to do so, they head to the three orchards and shake the hell out of those apple trees.   Many times out in the rural hinterlands the only real contests are in Republican primaries, and the winners of those often run unopposed in general elections.

And those hinterlands control the state legislature, a body of self-serving lunatics and greedy opportunists who see their duties to the citizens of Missouri as five-fold:  to protect and expand the rights of gun owners, to give free rein to business, to ensure that women have no rights whatsoever over their own bodies, to harass immigrants, and to never, ever, raise taxes.  Fortunately, we do have term limits and all of these elected despots have to return home and find real jobs after ten years of feeding off of the state treasury and the largess of lobbyists.

Missouri has been able to keep the legislative craziness in check throughout much of the past couple of decades thanks to having Democratic governors who were not afraid to use their veto pen.  In fact, twenty of the past twenty-four years the state has benefited from having a Democratic governor on hand to apply the brakes and save the legislature from itself.

But that was then.

Now, as of this past January, the state has a Republican governor who is rushing to embrace every nutball scheme ever dreamed up by hillbillies and tools of special interests who populate the legislature.  Governor Eric Greitens, in fact, has just called a special legislative session, his second since taking office - in addition to the regular session which ended in early May.  The upcoming session will focus on ways to curtail abortions in the state.

One of the first bills that Greitens signed as governor was one which made Missouri the 28th "right to work" state in the nation.  Right to work bills are tools designed by big business to curtail the power of unions by giving employees who work in union shops the "right" not to pay their union dues if they don't want to.

There is an effort afoot in the state to roll back that affront to workers.   Some groups, primarily labor unions, are trying to get "right to work" on the ballot so that people will have an opportunity to go around the will of their legislators.  The effort is to get the proposal on the ballot and then vote it down.

The voting public and the legislature don't always agree - again, thanks to shaking the hell out of those apple trees.  Years ago the when the state legislature was trying to pass a bill allowing the "concealed carry" of firearms, they lost control of the issue when opposition groups succeeded in getting it before the public in a vote - a vote where "concealed carry" failed.  A year or so later the legislature harrumphed mightily and passed a bill allowing the concealed carry of weapons, or, as many of them saw it, correcting the public's mistake.

The public is now attempting to correct the legislature's mistake with regard to "right to work."

There was a rally at one of our city parks in West Plains last Friday where, amid free food and sodas, petitions were being circulated to get right to work to the ballot.  The representative from the Machinists Union who visited with me as I signed a petition explained - carefully - that the group was not promoting any particular position..  They just wanted to give the people a chance to express themselves on the topic.

Yeah, right.

He was advocating for repeal of the phony "right to work" legislation - and so was I.

My state representative was noticeably absent.  These were not his people.

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