JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Sunday’s episode on This Week in Missouri Politics, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis spoke about his leadership on repealing right-to-work.
For Louis to override the Governor’s signature, he needed to collect at least 100,000 signatures from six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. On August 18, or what he calls “the best day I could ever have as a labor leader,” he led the submission of 310,567 signatures from eight of eight congressional districts. At least 10,000 people, Louis recalls, joined him at the Capitol in Jefferson City to present the petitions to Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. Louis believes that the majority of working-class Missouri residents do not support right-to-work and he believes the signatures to prove it.
“It goes way beyond labor,” he said. “It’s about the working people and the things they lose when Missouri becomes a right-to-work state.”
According to voter data and Louis’ personal experience, many working people, who work in labor unions and support prevailing wage, voted for Republicans in 2016, both for Donald Trump and Eric Greitens. He thinks working-class Missourians voted for the candidates who best represented their values – even if it means voting for a right-to-work candidate.
“We were being told that the election of 2016 was the right-to-work election. I didn’t believe that for one minute,” Louis said. “I know a lot of working folks who voted for Eric Grietens for governor. I don’t think it was for right-to-work. Missouri is a conservative state and I think people voted for conservatism, but I don’t think right-to-work was the issue.”
One of the leading conservative voices, Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft, happens to be for right-to-work. Despite Ashcroft’s policy opinions, Louis said the Secretary has been fair to him.
“We have absolutely no issues with the Secretary of State’s office. They went by the book. They did the right thing. They didn’t try and cheat us out of anything. I am very happy with the job that the Secretary of State has done,” Louis said.
Louis hopes to prove to the legislature in 2018 that Missouri citizens do not want to live in a right-to-work state by surpassing the legislature and allow the public to vote on whether Missouri should be a right-to-work state.
“There will be an opportunity for the people to veto the bill, just as the governor would veto a bill, and stop it from becoming law. By voting no, we do not agree with what the legislature did and we rescind that decision,” he says.
Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft’s office is still verifying signatures and will likely vote against the referendum.
To watch the full interview, go to twmp.tv.
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer