Activists say petition will put right-to-work on November ballot

3 months 23 hours 31 minutes ago Friday, August 18 2017 Aug 18, 2017 Friday, August 18, 2017 1:25:00 PM CDT August 18, 2017 in Continuous News
By: Lydia Nusbaum KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - Right-to-work opponents rallied at the state capitol Friday morning and said they have enough signatures to put the right-to-work law on the November ballot. 

Hundreds of people gathered at the state capital to rally against the right-to-work law and present signatures to the Secretary of State's office Friday morning.

The right-to-work law would allow employees to choose whether or not they want to pay union dues without termination. Unionized workers will be required to give the same benefit packages to those not in a union.

The bill is set to go into effect on Aug. 28. However, if there are 100,000 confirmed petitions, the law will be put on the November 2018 ballot for people to vote on.

We Are MO, an group against right-to-work, said it had 310,568 signatures from all eight congressional districts. Now that the group provided the signatures, it is up to the Secretary of State's office to verify all of them. 

Tom Madden, a member of Murphy Company for Plumbers' and Pipefitters' union, was at the rally and said right-to-work would erode the power labor unions have for their wages. Madden said he might have to look for a second job in around five years if the right-to-work law goes into effect. 

"My trade is all I really know so I'll definitely be staying in the union, but we won't be getting raises like we are. Our health care will start to diminish," Madden said. "Hopefully it doesn't come to that." 

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, told KOMU 8 News earlier this week that the right-to-work law would give people the option to join a union or not. 

"The principle behind right-to-work is simple. No Missouri worker should be forced to pay his or her hard earned wages to a union as a condition of employment," Onder said. "It is simply unfair that Missouri workers should be forced to support union bosses or politicians with whom they disagree." 

Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said at a press conference two weeks ago that right-to-work will help economic development. 

"It's very important to me that we keep right-to-work and just really get to moving so that we can see economic development for our state that doesn't cost the taxpayers a penny," Rehder said. 

Michela Skelton, former democratic candidate for Missouri's 50th house district and opponent of right-to-work, said the law is harmful to Missourians because it would break down a union's power. 

"Even though unions themselves are a very small portion of the workforce here in Missouri, they help lift up wages for every other worker," Skelton said. "If the republicans are so convinced that this is something that the state wants and something the state needs, they shouldn't be afraid of it going to a citizen's vote."  

If the Secretary of State verifies the signatures and allows right-to-work on the ballot, there is still one last step to take the measure off the ballot. Someone can challenge the measure if they think there was any fraud in the petitions. 

Liberty Alliance supports right-to-work. Eddie Greim, an attorney for the organization, said it will challenge the petitions if he thinks there was fraud. 

"If someone can show that a campaign of fraud was used to gather signatures, then the signatures can be deemed invalid," Greim said. "One thing we'll be wanting to find out is what evidence we have of what happened out on the streets when the unions and the people that they paid to gather signatures went out."

The Secretary of State's office is expected to take six to eight weeks to verify all signatures received on Friday. Right-to-work will not go into effect on Aug. 28 during the verification process. 

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