Government & Politics

Union supporters fan out across metro to ‘get out the vote’ against right-to-work law

Missouri’s Proposition A must be defeated, and defeated soundly, union leaders said Saturday as volunteers prepared to canvass neighborhoods to encourage members to get out and vote on Aug. 7.

“We need to absolutely destroy Prop A,” Pat “Duke” Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, told dozens of union members and others who gathered Saturday morning at the Pipe Fitters Local 533 Union Hall in Kansas City. “The Republicans have already said they’re going to wait and see the outcome to determine when they re-pass right-to-work in Missouri.

“If we don’t win by much, it’ll be the very next day. So we need to send a very, very strong message.”

The right-to-work law was passed last year by the Missouri General Assembly and signed by then-Gov. Eric Greitens. But its implementation was halted when opponents gathered more than 310,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

Under right to work, employees could not be compelled to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. They could opt out of paying dues for representation if they don’t join the union.

Supporters argue that right to work attracts businesses to the state and boosts economic development. Opponents, including unions, say it lowers wages and weakens unions. Those at Saturday’s event said it also would put safe, good-paying jobs at risk for veterans returning to the workforce after serving their country.

Twenty-eight states have right-to-work laws on the books.

The issue will appear on the Aug. 7 Missouri ballot as Proposition A. Voting “yes” would put the law into effect. Voting “no” would repeal it.

Dujakovich said right to work is an attack on the middle class and is being pushed by outside groups that don’t care about workers’ rights.

“We’ve got people from all over the country — people from LA and from Kansas and union veterans — who have come in and agreed to help out and phone bank and knock on doors to get the word out,” he said.

Saturday’s event included a brief training session on how to canvass the metro area to encourage union members to vote against Proposition A. Some volunteers also headed to St. Joseph, and a similar event took place in St. Louis on Saturday.

“We’ve got to beat this, and we’ve got to beat it big,” said machinist Brian Simmons, chairman of the Union Veterans Council in Kansas City and a staff sergeant in the Missouri Air National Guard. “The way we do that is what you all came out to do today. We’ve got to get out and knock on doors, we’ve got to convince the folks not only to vote but to vote no on Prop A.

Those in attendance were shown an anti-Prop A television commercial that began airing Saturday. It featured Todd Doree, a Marine and business manager/secretary-treasurer of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 3.

“We all have a right to work, and we all have a right to work union if we so choose,” Doree said as he headed out to knock on doors. “We join the union on our own accord, and I will always be a union member. And that’s why I’m knocking on the doors today. Because I don’t need government telling me that the guy working next to me doesn’t have to pay his fair share of dues to keep our health care, our pension, our benefits and our apprenticeship programs going.”