Sharp divisions have developed between Governor Eric Greitens and state lawmakers over his call for two special sessions so far this summer. But that hasn’t discouraged interest groups from lobbying the legislature to act on behalf of their priorities.
The conservative advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity has sent a letter to three state Senate Republican majority leader’s asking for yet another special session. The group wants legislation to require public-sector unions to be re-certified by the employees they represent.
Americans for Prosperity Missouri State Director Jeremy Cady says most union haven’t been certified by the workers they represent since they were formed, which could be 50 years ago.
“It allows union members today that belong to that union to have the opportunity to either certify, possibly pick another union, or have no representation at all” said Cady. “So it depends on what the workers decide.”
The letter to the Senate leaders contends that public-sector unions need to be held more accountable to their members, and to the public. Cady quoted Governor Greitens “State of the State” address while suggesting the number of state workers should be reduced.
“One of the remarks that was made during the State of the State was ‘It could be likely that we have too many’. Our state bureaucracy is too large, and we may need to shrink that down a little bit.”
Missouri has roughly 60,000 state employees. During the State of the State, Greitens noted Indiana, Illinois and Ohio have far fewer employees per 10,000 people. He suggested Missouri’s “big bloated bureaucracy” was the reason it has the country’s lowest paid state employees.
When asked if unions are needed to negotiate better wages for the low paid workers, Cady said employees should make that decision through the re-certification process.
“That should be up to the worker, not the unions. If the workers agree, then by all means, they’ll likely re-certify those unions. If the workers disagree, then you could see otherwise.”
In responding to the letter asking for a special session on labor, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for Missouri and Iowa President Danny Homan made referenced to the billionaire Koch Brothers, who own Americans for Prosperity.
“To have a collection of organizations that serve as front groups for extremist billionaires calling for an expensive special session to try to further strip the lowest paid state workers of their rights in a year when Missouri is already facing tremendous budget cuts is unconscionable and laughable.”
Seven other conservative and libertarian organizations cosigned the letter sent to the state Senators.
The correspondence itself was addressed to Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City and Senate Assistant Majority Floor Leader Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis.
Cady said the legislation for union re-certification would have to have support in the Senate to have a chance at being passed.
“With the current special session, there’s obviously some hiccups” Cady said. “So it’s one of those things where, I think we definitely need buy-in from the Senate to continue the process. So if we don’t have that buy-in from the Senate, then if a call is made, then it will be all for not.”
In his response to the letter, Homan with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees took Governor Greitens to task for calling multiple special sessions.
“Our elected officials should be focused on raising wages and putting our economy back on track, not expensive theatrics that only serve the extreme agenda of a governor who already clearly has his sights set on higher office and not the people and workers of Missouri.”