(From the diaries) Union organizers who couldn’t persuade a majority of Missouri lawmakers to vote against right-to-work are bent on stopping a two-thirds majority from overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto this month.
A veto override of the right-to-work bill in the Missouri General Assembly would make Missouri the 26th state in which workers can’t be forced to pay a union as a condition of employment.
To deal with widespread support for right-to-work, union bosses use populist front groups to flip public opinion by misrepresenting what right-to-work laws do.
Their attempts have failed in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin since 2012, but unions are sticking with the same strategy in Missouri.
For example, a Preserve Middle Class Missouri ad warns right-to-work “has been created by top executives” as a means of “taking away our voice” to negotiate for wages and benefits.
“Workers in right-to-work states make on average $1,500 less per year than workers in states that allow employees to bargain for fair wages and benefits,” the ad asserts.
Employees are allowed to bargain for wages and benefits in right-to-work states, and right-to-work does nothing to make it more difficult to join a union.
But then, Preserve Middle Class Missouri — which is run by the Teamsters union and United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 — isn’t likely to come out and say, “Right-to-work is bad because it lets workers choose whether to pay us.”
Using research from the AFL-CIO and Economic Policy Institute, Preserve Middle Class Missouri insists right-to-work laws result in lower wages, reduced benefits and higher risk of death on the job.
Carpenters union front The Committee to Protect MO Families makes the same arguments, relying on the same EPI and AFL-CIO research. This is no accident.
AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest union coalition, and EPI is a union-funded Washington, D.C., think tank whose board of directors is stacked with many of America’s wealthiest labor bosses.
EPI’s wage figures have been disputed by researchers at the conservative Heritage Foundation, who recently found that private-sector pay is higher in right-to-work states when adjusting for cost of living.
Regardless of the numbers, union arguments against right-to-work always start from the false assertion right-to-work takes away workers’ ability to unionize and collectively bargain through unions.
Right-to-work simply lets workers choose whether to support unions; workers in right-to-work states are free to form or join unions if they think unions are the best way to improve their wages, benefits or workplace safety.
As right-to-work proponents have pointed out, it’s not uncommon for right-to-work states to see higher union membership growth than forced unionism states.
So why are union leaders so vehemently opposed to right-to-work? The unions fighting right-to-work in Missouri haven’t responded to Watchdog requests for comment.
Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told Watchdog there’s a simple reason unions try to block right-to-work laws.
Workers in states without right-to-work “have no way to hold union officials accountable about how their money is spent,” Semmens said in an emailed statement.
When workers have to choose between paying the union and finding another job, it’s easier for union leaders to give themselves hefty salaries with money from workers’ paychecks.
“Unfortunately union bosses have gotten used to living large on forced union dues, and are apparently scared that when workers are given a choice they will decide that paying union dues is a bad use of their hard-earned money,” Semmens said.
Jim Kabell, the Teamsters union officer in charge of Preserve Middle Class Missouri,was paid a total of $177,081 last year. UFCW 655 president David Cook, Preserve Middle Class Missouri’s president, was paid $177,653 last year.
At the offices of Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity — the union behind Committee to Protect MO Families — union staffers are paid an average salary of $88,680.
The following Watchdog video sums up union opposition to right-to-work laws:
This story was originally published at Watchdog.org.