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AFSCME Members Help Defeat Paycheck Deception in Missouri

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By Alexandra Townsend, Missouri Council 72 Explore the Issues Legislation Politics and Elections Workers' Rights
AFSCME Members Help Defeat Paycheck Deception in Missouri
Michelle Fullard (right), a Developmental Aide at Bellefontaine Habilitation Center, Eleanor Taylor (center), a home care worker in St. Louis, and a friend at the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. (Photo by Alexandra Townsend)

Just after midnight on Friday the 13th, an attempt to override Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of anti-worker legislation known as “paycheck deception” failed, with a bipartisan group of senators voting to support workers’ rights.

The measure, HB 1891, would have required cumbersome annual reauthorizations of union membership, as well a slew of other anti-worker provisions.  It was all designed to undermine the ability of public service workers to stand together in union to improve their jobs, serve their communities and earn a better living for their families.  

The bill originally passed earlier this year, with 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate – the minimum number of votes needed to override the veto.

After Gov. Jay Nixon issued the veto, AFSCME members sprang into action, calling and emailing their elected officials to encourage them to sustain the veto and support workers’ rights. 

AFSCME members like Travis Case, a shopkeeper employed in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and Malissa Parker, a certified nursing assistant at the Missouri Veterans Nursing Center, regularly called their legislators, wrote letters, sent emails and signed petitions opposing the legislation. In March, hundreds of members of AFSCME and other unions and allies rallied at the Capitol against paycheck deception.

AFSCME members and members of other unions canvassed their neighborhoods urging their neighbors to write letters to their elected officials to sustain the veto. They also met daily with senators at the Capitol in Jefferson City to deliver letters and messages from constituents about the concerns they had with the bill and to urge the lawmakers to support workers’ rights. Their efforts were successful, as two Republicans joined every Democrat in standing up for Missouri workers, rejecting the paycheck deception bill inspired by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“We are appreciative of Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who continues to support collective bargaining and workers’ rights,” said Rachelle Leonard, a Psych Tech II at Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center. “Workers have been meeting with her to address community concerns, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue and finding ways we can continue to work together.”

Marcus Jones, a bus driver with North Kansas City Schools, said, “I know my co-workers and I are also looking forward to working with legislators from both parties in the future on finding solutions to the real problems facing public employees across Missouri, like low pay and the increasing turn-over rate in public jobs.”