The Missouri Supreme Court heard remote oral arguments on Monday afternoon in a key case involving public-sector employee labor laws.

The Supreme Court heard 36 minutes of arguments in a complicated case that involves a 2018 Missouri bill, that was sponsored by State Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa. Republicans describe that bill, House Bill 1413, as paycheck protection, while Democrats view it as anti-labor.

In January, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph Walsh III declared the bill “void in its entirety,” and prevented any of its provisions from being enforced. The state appealed.

Solicitor General D. John Sauer says the trial court erred several times, and emphasizes that no provision of the bill violates public employees’ rights to bargain collectively.

“There’s unrefuted, unrebutted evidence in the summary judgment record in this case that the plaintiffs submitted no evidence at all to refute that directly addresses how the various provisions of House Bill 1413 do protect in advance employees’ ability to select representatives of their own choosing,” Sauer tells the court.

You can read the full 146-page brief submitted by Solicitor General Sauer here.

Seven labor unions that represent public sector employees in Missouri disagree with Mr. Sauer, and are asking the state Supreme Court to affirm Judge Walsh’s decision. Those unions include the Missouri National Education Association, Ferguson-Florissant National Education Association and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local Union Number 42.

National Education Association attorney Jason Walta, who represented the plaintiffs at the Missouri Supreme Court, says the 2018 bill dramatically curtails public-sector collective bargaining.

“I think that the trial court wrote a very thoughful and excellent decision in this matter. He (Judge Walsh) considered the issues very carefully, and I think that it’s a decision that’s worthy of this court’s affirmance,” Walta tells the Supreme Court.

Counselor Walta says the bill infringes on the rights of employees to bargain collectively. You can read the full 103-page brief submitted by Counselor Walta here.

Because of COVID concerns, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George Draper III was the only judge in the Jefferson City courtroom on Monday. The other six Supreme Court judges participated remotely, as did Counselors Sauer and Walta. Capitol reporters listened to the arguments remotely.

There is no timeframe on when the Supreme Court will issue a decision.

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