by Olivia Sandbothe | April 04, 2014
It takes more than two hours in either direction to drive to Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, from its major population centers in Kansas City and St. Louis. So when you see thousands of people from across the state gathered on the lawn of the Capitol building, you know something very important brought them there.
Working people are under attack in the Show-Me State, but they’re not backing down. On March 26, more than 3,000 union members and allies crowded before the Capitol to show their opposition to the slew of union-busting legislation currently under consideration. They were greeted by Gov. Jay Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster, a bipartisan group of state legislators, and others who share a commitment to middle-class values.
However, the overwhelming voice of the people is no deterrent to House Speaker Tim Jones (R- Eureka) who made union-busting his top priority throughout his career. The speaker, who accepted thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from the American Legislative Exchange Council, currently pushes a measure he misleadingly calls “paycheck protection” that would require workers who want to be part of a union to either hand-pay their dues or file burdensome paperwork each year in order to make payroll deductions.
The law is about more than just pointless red tape. Jones told the press that he sees policies like these as part of a path to “the ultimate goal of right-to-work.” And indeed, he and his followers in the Statehouse are also looking for ways to bypass the governor’s veto in order to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state where unions are barred from collecting dues to cover their costs.
If the thousands of workers who made the trip to the Capitol were any indication, the speaker won’t get his way without a fight. He even faces opposition within his own party. As Rep. Anne Zerr of St. Louis told the crowd, “there’s more and more of us on the Republican side who realize that labor is not the enemy.”
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