ST. LOUIS - Thousands of people came to downtown St. Louis for the annual Labor Day parade. But this year's celebration was darkened some by concerns for the future.
Missouri's Right to Work law could be headed for a public vote next year. Governor Eric Greitens signed the bill earlier this year and it was supposed to take effect August 28th. Implementation is on hold for now.
In the meantime, labor unions are fighting hard to keep Missouri a non-Right to Work state while Republican lawmakers insist it's the best plan for Missouri.
Alexander Quain is an Iraq War veteran who struggled to find steady work when he returned from active duty.
“I was unemployed for a while and then I bounced from job to job,” said Quain. “When I got into (I.B.E.W.) local 1 I finally had an actual career and it gave me the opportunity to actually support my family and have a decent wage and living.”
Monday, Quain and his family watched the Labor Day parade while dressed in "Say No to Right to Work" t-shirts.
“We're just fighting this thing and trying to get what we all need.”
Many others in the crowd had Right to Work on their minds. They worried labor unions will wither and die, leading to lower wages, loss of benefits and possibly jobs if workers are allowed to join unions without paying dues.
“If you went to the chamber of commerce and said ‘I want to be a member but I don't want to pay my dues,’ they'd probably tell you no,” said Bruce Holt, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 58 member.
Pat White helped gather more than 300,000 petition signatures to overturn Right to Work.
“A hundred or so politicians in Jefferson City are deciding the entire state of Missouri should get a pay cut,” said White. “A rising tide raises all boats and we know this is going to affect everybody.”
If at least 100,000 of those signatures are verified a public vote on right to work will be on the November 2018 ballot.
Republican State Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis voted in favor of Right to Work and feels, even if it goes to a public vote, the law will be upheld.
“In a sense there already has been a vote on right to work,” said Onder. “There was a vote on right to work when Missourians elected a governor who was for right to work, a house that was for right to work and a senate that was for right to work.”
Onder argues employers are drawn to Right to Work states and adopting the law is the only way Missouri can stay competitive.
Right to Work is already in effect in 27 states.
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