Missouri Votes on Right-to-Work – Again

Auckland       Unbelievably, workers and their families, and, well, everyone registered to vote once again has to go to the polls on the whether or not businesses can impose so-called right-to-work legislation in Missouri. This isn’t the first time.In the last 50 years, if memory serves, unions have had to beat back these corporate challenges at least twice, and thus far always been successful.

Missouri is simply one barometer of how contentious this issue continues to be since the first right-to-work laws were passed after Taft-Hartley kicked the ball over to the states in the 1950s when previously union shops, and even closed shops, had been allowed. Many southern states led the right-to-work train. Louisiana was the last to fall twenty years later in 1976.  The anti-union, anti-worker push has continued to grow extending right-to-work even to the bastion of Michigan. Now, there are 23 states and the District of Columbia that allow union shop provisions and 27 that are right-to-work.

Right-to-work has nothing to do with work or getting a job. The title has been clever – and effective political marketing.Right-to-work legislation simply means that when unions represent workers in collective bargaining agreements they have the ability to negotiate with their employers certain fees for the mandatory representation obligation that is the responsibility of unions under the exclusive representation interpretation that has emerged under decisions of the National Labor Relations Act.Economic studies find that workers in right-to-work states make an average of 3.1% less in wages.

Unions are hardened to this fight in Missouri.  The conservative, Republican legislature passed a right-to-work statue during the last term of the legislature that was promptly signed by the Republican governor.  Labor and their allies quickly got more than 300,000 signatures to repeal the legislative action on the ballot. The right-to-work proponents played the last trick in their hand by scheduling the vote in the August primaries where there would be fewer base voters than the November midterm general elections, so the vote is coming now.

In a rarity union backed groups have outspent their opponents, raising almost $12 million to the over $3 million that anti-union groups have pulled together according to the Missouri Election Commission. Some odds favor the momentum of labor in this ballot.Missouri’s “show me” voters have tended to reject legislative acts when they have the chance to have their voice heard by voting.Anti-worker business interests are hoping they still have some steam in their tank in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision that recently eliminated agency fee agreements for public employees. The Wall Street Journal has reported that 24,000 public workers in Pennsylvania and 31,000 in New York ceased fee payments potentially cost unions more than $16 million in dues revenue.

Class struggle seems to never have an expiration date, and in Missouri it shows its ugly face every decade or so in the struggle over right-to-work.I’m betting on unions and workers again, but it’s never a sure thing.


Oh, No! Jerry Jones and the Anthem Again!

NFL Players Strike 1974

New Orleans        Around the globe, football means soccer, and the recently concluded quadrennial World Cup was its showcase.  In America, football is a different thing altogether, especially when it comes to the endless draft-to-summer-to-exhibition-to-regular season-to-playoffs-to-Super Bowl, National Football League on the professional level.  Once again, as exhibition games get ready to begin, we’re having to read about people like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the anthem singers as the controversy with the players continues.  On the plane I was reading Sergio de la Pava’s Lost Empress and was constantly getting confused on whether fiction was stranger than truth or truth stranger than fiction.

In the novel, Nina, the daughter of the owner of the Dallas Cowboys whose health is failing in Tom Benson fashion, in a preview of his estate gives the Cowboys to his oldest son and bequeaths the football savant, Nina, with the Paterson Porkers of the International Football League.  That’s Paterson, New Jersey, if you were unclear.  The NFL owners in the book decide to lockout the players in order to take 60% of the revenue rather than 56%, and Nina senses the opportunity to grab the fans and players attention by having the IFL rise in the fall as the NFL cancels their season.  I haven’t finished the book, but we’re all rooting for Nina and the little pigs over the greedy pig owners of the NFL.

In the daily papers we find that the saga of the players’ protest over police brutality and racial discrimination that the Twitterer-in-Chief made an issue of anthem and flag when the even richer owners cravenly caved before him like cheap suits.  Now the issue is hot again.  Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two players leading the protest are still being blackballed and have both filed grievances with the union.  The NFL had tried to defuse the issue for this year by saying no on-field protest, by which they mean on-camera really, but do your thing in the locker room, but anarchy would rule and teams could fill in the blanks with their own rules.  The union objected since it was a unilateral change, and the league suspended the rule change to try to negotiate something with the union and the players.

Not good enough for the flaming Jerry Jones and the Cowboys who claim they will force players on the field.  The Miami Dolphins want to give protesting players multi-game suspensions.  Players are unhappy.  It’s a hot mess.

All of which makes me wish that Nina was the commissioner of the NFL in reality rather than just a character in a novel.  Believe me, having a sport that cared about the fans and players rather than a plaything of the superrich would guarantee a winner for all of us!