NAACP, others warn right-to-work will disproportionately harm black workers

  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A study by the Economic Policy Institute on the effects of right-to-work was highlighted during a rally against the ballot measure. The study indicates that black workers would be disproportionately harmed by the law.

The event, held Thursday in Kansas City, was a platform for African-American leaders and leaders of the faith community to join with Kansas City NAACP President Reverend Rodney Williams to announce their opposition to Proposition A. The event was held with We Are Missouri.

The right-to-work statutory change will be on the August 7, 2018 ballot. A resolution changing the date from the general election ballot to the primary ballot was successfully passed by the General Assembly.

“The EPI study confirmed what we’ve known all along: African-Americans stand to lose the most if Proposition A passes. Prop A will lower wages and it will hurt all Missouri families, particularly black workers,” said Pastor Michael Brooks, representing MORE 2.

EPI’s study found that because African-Americans in Missouri have a strong representation by unions in the private industry, they would be harmed more by the negative impacts of right-to-work on wages and benefits.

“Proposition A would not only destroy the strides that have been made for workers in Missouri, but hurt African-American workers in particular,” said Pat Roberts of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. “The fight for workers rights and civil rights are inseparable.”

“For many workers and families who could lose their healthcare benefit, Prop A is literally a life and death issue. Prop A is wrong for workers. Prop A is wrong for workers’ families. Prop A is wrong for Missouri. Prop A is wrong,” said Rev. Susan McCann of Grace Episcopal Church and Communities Creating Opportunity.

Then-Gov. Eric Greitens signed right-to-work, a concept he campaigned on, in February 2017. Labor unions and their supports subsequently gathered the needed to signatures to put the issue to a statewide vote in 2018. In fact, they gathered nearly three times the number of needed signatures.

Proponents say that right-to-work will lead to more jobs and higher pay and that it will attract more companies to the State of Missouri. Opponents disagree.

“Right-to work is not a deciding factor in where businesses decide to locate. That is now quite clear,” said Tex Sample of APRI. “Communities lose jobs when wages are lowered by right-to-work.”

Reverend Williams stressed the importance of African-American turnout for the August election. “By moving the vote to August 7th, our legislators are seeking to avoid the input of those who would be most impacted: black workers.” He added, “We are going to inform the community that Prop A is wrong for Missouri.”

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.