By Joshua Lockwood
Missouri, a wonderful state in the middle of America, full of rich history and the birth place to former President Harry Truman, poet Langston Hughes, and star of the hit reality television series “Life in the Fab Lane” Kimora Lee Simmons (right?! You’re welcome).
Needless to say, the political history has been just as rich. But recently, “rich” only because of bought-and-paid-for legislation. Millionaires and special interest groups have bought our senators and, in an even more lucrative purchase, our new Governor.
Of all the Four States, Missouri has been the only one that is not a Right to Work state for many years. Missouri has had progressive job growth in the private and public sectors. Our unions have been stronger than those in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. Missouri has proven to have accelerated comparably to the RTW states surrounding us.
Enter Eric Greitens and his multi-million dollar campaign funded by David Humphries. In case you don’t know who David Humphries is, he is the owner of Tamko Industries. He makes shingles and sells them at outrageous prices. He is also the Chair of American Prosperity of Southwest Missouri, so it would make sense that this millionaire would want to be involved in politics. Especially when Right To Work is on the line.
Here is a brief description of Right to Work according to the Legal Defense Foundation:
“Right to Work laws prohibit union security agreements, or agreements between employers and labor unions, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring. Right To Work laws do not aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government regulation of the contractual agreements between employers and labor unions that prevents them from excluding non-union workers, or requiring employees to pay a fee to unions that have negotiated the labor contract all the employees work under.”
There it is. In short, with Right to Work in place, Humphries wouldn’t have to abide by the unions, causing a weakening of the strong unions many working families rely on.
In 2015, four central Republicans came up for the Gubernatorial race: Katherine Hanaway, John Brunner, Lt. Gov Peter Kinder, and Eric Greitens. Greitens was a known former liberal and national delegate to Barack Obama in 2008. When Greitens had won the primary, the contributions came rolling in. However, the endorsements didn’t. Greitens had a commercial where he was shooting a high powered weapon into a random field. Chris Koster would go on to joke that maybe it was secondary education he was destroying. Chris Koster, the Attorney General and former republican, had won the democratic primary swiftly. In August of 2016, Greitens started a campaign that was absolutely false and too close to home for me. He had created a commercial declaring that Chris Koster, the Attorney General at the time, was not present for the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado. Chris Koster was at a summit in Israel. With many other Attorney Generals. Not vacation. Koster came to Joplin to defend himself. I stood behind him as he did. It was symbolic and quite literal. That was Greitens’ whole game. Say a bunch of things that weren’t true and gain the vote by mistrust.
Sadly, Greitens won the Governorship. It was a hard lose to deal with, considering we knew what was coming. And it did. Immediately, the state house was producing a new bill for Right to Work. We had planned a phone-in campaign to the Governor, our state representatives, and state senators. Sometimes it was so busy, we couldn’t get through. Then, like a freight train hitting us all, he signed legislation in Springfield. In an abandoned warehouse.
Now we are here today. Fighting for the working families that Right to Work will greatly affect. A people’s veto has been submitted. We now are gathering signatures to get it on the ballot for 2018 so we can vote that sucker down.
So, what to do now? Continue the hard work. Resist. Don’t stop.
Come sign the petition to stop Right to Work at any location and monthly meeting:
Southwest Missouri Democrats Office, 2001 Empire Avenue, on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Indivisible Meetings are held at A Woman’s Place at 808 Broadway Avenue, on the first Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.
Southwest Missouri Young Democrats, Joplin Avenue Coffee Company, 506 S. Joplin Avenue, on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Emily Newell-Blair Woman’s Democratic Club meetings are held at A Woman’s Place, 808 Broadway Avenue, on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Protect Missouri’s working families.