Missouri will not in 2015 become a “right to work” state. The bill received more favorable votes in the state House in today’s veto session than it did in May, but still fell 13 votes short of enough to override Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) veto.
Members of the House debated the measure, at times emotionally, for about two hours, but leadership waited less than two minutes for all votes to be cast, knowing there was little hope to sway 13 votes on such a contentious issue.
Representative Jeremy LaFaver (R-Kansas City) wanted lawmakers to remember the bill would have made it a misdemeanor to require the paying of union dues by employees. He spoke about a print shop owner in his district that he said would have to change how he’s always done business.
“We’re gonna make Sam Gromowsky, 86 years-old, having trouble with the printer plates, we’re going to turn him into a criminal. We’re going to fine him $300 or $500,” said LaFaver of what would happen if the bill became law.
Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis City) said the bill would decrease middle class workers.
“This is about a systematic attack on workers, working families. You want to destroy the middle class and it’s all based on greed,” said May.
Some lawmakers said they had been victims of intimidation, threats, and vandalism by union supporters trying to urge them to vote against “right-to-work.”
“I’ve been attacked just brutally from union people,” said Representative Randy Pietzman (R-Troy). “They apologized for misrepresenting my first vote and that’s fine, but that’s after I got 50 phone calls from people cussing me out, attacking my family … you can have a great product and you can put out great workers, but if you can’t put somebody out there with a better attitude than that they you’ve got a problem.”
Representative Bryan Spencer (R-Wentzville) said he was pressured by supporters and opponents of “right to work.”
“For the people who are using the tactics to get you to change your vote, threatening me doesn’t work. ‘Burning my house down,’ they said. They wanted to burn my house down and have some scab build me a blank house, we’ll just say ‘poop’ house.” Spencer said his truck was also vandalized with numerous anti-right to work stickers, and was told, “I’m coming for you, fat boy.”
Governor Nixon praised the vote as a “victory for workers, families, and businesses,” and calling the bill “divisive,” and “anti-worker.”
“I thank the members of the General Assembly – both Democrats and Republicans – who sent a clear message to the nation that Missouri will stand by its workers and oppose attempts by outside special interests to cut wages and weaken the middle-class.”
Missouri Chamber president and CEO Dan Mehan said it was, “incredibly disappointing to see our General Assembly – which is heavily composed of lawmakers who were elected on pro-business platforms – continue to fall short when it comes to making Missouri a right-to-work state.”
Mehan believes that with the vote, “Missouri will continue to be overlooked for job creation and business expansion opportunities. If we are going to change our economy and create jobs for the future, we need to start passing right-to-work. This issue is not going to go away.”
Related story: How they voted: ‘Right to work’ fails in Missouri veto session