A few thousand union members from across Missouri are expected to travel to the Statehouse in Jefferson City Wednesday to rally against right-to-work and for pensions.
The Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council is organizing the “rally for the middle class,” which begins Wednesday at noon on the Capitol’s south lawn.
The theme of the rally is “paychecks over politics.”
Missouri Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, tells Missourinet U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) will deliver the keynote address at Wednesday’s rally.
Walsh says other speakers will include State Rep. Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills, an active member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399.
Walsh says union member and State Sen. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, will speak, along with State Auditor Nicole Galloway (D).
Walsh will also speak, as will retired Roofers Local #20 member Walter Smith. He’s scheduled to talk about union pensions and retiring with dignity.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) signed right-to-work in February 2017, weeks after taking office.
Greitens campaigned for right-to-work, which says that a person cannot be required to join or refrain from joining a labor organization, as a condition of employment.
During the February 2017 bill-signing ceremony, Greitens told lawmakers that from 1995-2015, the five fastest states for job growth were all right-to-work states. He said that right-to-work would lead to more jobs and higher pay.
State Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, sponsored the bill, and predicted at the bill-signing ceremony that union and non-union jobs would increase in Missouri.
Labor unions and their supporters were able to gather enough signatures from Missouri voters to get the issue on the statewide ballot, so right-to-work is essentially on-hold until the ballot measure.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s spokeswoman, Maura Browning, says the ballot issue is a referendum, which is a question referred to the people.
The right-to-work referendum would appear on the November statewide ballot, unless the Missouri Legislature designates a different date.
House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, told Missourinet at the bill-signing ceremony that right-to-work will strengthen labor unions.
State Rep. Doug Beck, a St. Louis County Democrat and pipefitter, said at the time that right-to-work would cost Missouri about $120 million in lost revenue.
Forecasters say Wednesday is expected to be dry in Jefferson City, and traffic is expected to be heavy around the Missouri Capitol.
That’s because the union members will be rallying on the Capitol lawn, with a $28.6 million construction project at the Capitol underway.
Fences and “road closed” signs have gone up around parts of the Capitol, and parking has gotten more difficult.
Buses will be bringing in union members in the St. Louis area.