Imagine that you’re a powerful politician in a state with 6 million citizens, 800,000 of whom are uninsured, facing major funding shortfalls for education and infrastructure. Quick, what would you do first?
If you’re Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, you start by attacking workers’ rights.
The very first bill to receive a hearing in this year’s legislative session in Jefferson City was HB 1099, a so-called “right-to-work” measure aimed at undermining unions. It’s just one of many union-busting bills on the calendar this year. Among the others are “paycheck deception” laws that do nothing but create red tape for union members, and a bill that would eliminate the prevailing wage laws that require decent pay for construction workers on state projects.
Missouri legislators tried – and failed – to put all of these laws on the books in the past. But the front-and-center treatment suggests the speaker is making the anti-worker agenda his top priority this year.
While the bill’s sponsor, Eric Burlison of Springfield, flew in a conservative think-tank employee all the way from Michigan to testify in favor of right-to-work, Missouri workers packed the hearing room to oppose the bill. Laws like HB 1099 aren’t designed to benefit actual Missourians. Burlison admitted as much when he told reporters his legislation would lead to lower wages.
Instead, these laws are lifted straight from the playbook of an anti-worker group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which puts loyalty to the big-business cause ahead of loyalty to constituents.
Working people face tough battles in Jefferson City and other state capitals this year. We will continue to bring you updates as the legislative session.