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Koster: On Labor Day, A Choice

By Chris Koster

Labor Day is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement in this country, and the workers who are a part of it. This day reminds us the working conditions we enjoy today — from workplace safety to higher wages, and even the weekend — are in significant part due to to labor unions organizing on behalf of workers.

Today, these workers include the teachers who educate our children so Missouri has a workforce prepared for a rapidly changing landscape. The first responders who risk life and limb to keep us safe. The nurses who heal our wounds at all hours of the night and day. The skilled trades workers who help build our state. Labor Day is time for us to celebrate and honor their contributions.

Sadly, the labor movement that has fought for more than hundred years to raise wages, increase benefits, and protect workers rights is under attack. Here in Missouri and elsewhere, some are engaging in schemes aimed to restrict collective bargaining rights. This threatens our common values and the ability of working Missourians to earn a living wage.

States that have passed these measures have lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. That is not the Missouri we want to build. Public service should aim to move the rights of the people forward — not backward to a time without even a minimum wage.

We’re at a time in our history when corporate profits are at their highest level since 1929, yet wages are at their lowest level since the end of World War II. We should be working to lessen that disparity, not increase it.

Just as I do not believe our government should be in the business of lowering the salaries of doctors, engineers or teachers to make somebody else’s life better, I reject those who want to do the same to the people who are building our bridges and roads. Proponents of efforts like “Right-to-Work” offer a false choice between businesses doing well and workers maintaining their rights.

My goal as governor will be to foster an environment where businesses can thrive alongside workers — where business profits grow along with workers’ wages.

This year will be absolutely vital to protecting workers’ rights and collective bargaining. Do we choose a Missouri that comes together toward common goals and the challenges we face as a state or do we choose pitting workers against each other in races to the bottom?

Our state motto is “Let The Welfare Of The People Be The Supreme Law.” That’s more than just a motto to me, it’s a basic bargain promised to every generation of Missourians. It is why, as Governor, I will always stand with the workers we honor on Labor Day and every other day.