By Collin Reischman
Brooks Sunkett, vice president of the Communication Workers of America, called pending “right to work” legislation an “assault on workers,” and an “all out attack on working families.”
During the rally, the crowd began to chant “Stand Up, Fight Back,” as speakers warned of increasingly “anti-worker” legislation that could weaken unions and lower wages. Attendees at the rally vowed to voice their concerns to their elected officials as well as rally their local communities about politicians who support anti-worker legislation. “Right to work,” prevailing wage changes, and “paycheck protection” were all mentioned as “radical” bills written by “radical” politicians.
Members of the United Auto Workers were busy during the legislative spring break. Representatives from the UAW spent the break knocking on doors, cold-calling, and meeting with their communities to talk about Senate Bill 29, which passed through the Senate just before the break.
SB 29, which supporters call “Paycheck Protection,” would change the way union fees are deducted from public employee paychecks.
UAW workers from the General Motors plant in Wentzville brought a large postcard with more than 100 signatures opposing SB29. The postcard was to be delivered to the office of Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, but also includes a reference to Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville. Both Senators have more than 1,300 UAW workers in their district, according David Hurst, president of the Greater Saint Louis UAW Cap Council.
“We want them to understand that we don’t approve of their votes on SB 29,” Hurst said. “They were on break, but we weren’t, we were out talking to our members and getting our message out there.”
Mile Melson, a UAW worker from the Wentzville plant, said “anti-worker” legislation of any kind of was a problem, and called SB 29 a “downgrade” for unions everywhere.
Midwest field communications director for the AFL-CIO Cathy Sherwin said private sector unions would come out in full support of the public sector unions affected by SB 29.
“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” she said.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.