Last year our brothers and sisters in Missouri were in the fight of their lives against two paycheck deception bills. With Republican super-majorities in the state House and Senate, the stakes had never been higher. Yet Missouri’s labor movement stuck together, stood firm, fought back – and won. Here’s what we can learn from them:
If paycheck deception passes, it is only the beginning. Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones openly admitted that he saw the paycheck deception bills as a step toward right-to-work. After passing the bill in the House, he tweeted that Missouri had “moved one step closer to complete worker freedom” – i.e. right-to-work. Missouri’s labor movement knew that if they didn’t stand strong against paycheck deception, they were opening the door to a slew of attacks on Missouri’s middle class.
This bill is an attempt by ALEC and the Commonwealth Foundation to see how far they can go in attacking unions. For both organizations, it is a common practice to float several options to gauge how far lawmakers are willing to go toward the organization’s goal. Like HB 1507 and SB 1034 here in Pennsylvania, the bills were based heavily on an ALEC model bill that would require public employee unions to get consent from members before deducting fees from their paychecks. And if those bills get traction, it’s a small step for extremists in the Pennsylvania Legislature to renew their push for right-to-work.
Missouri workers never stopped fighting – even when it wasn’t clear that the bill would move. They won because thousands and thousands of workers, both union and non-union, made their voices heard. They flooded their legislators’ offices with emails, letters and phone calls – not just once, but over and over for more than a year. As a result, support for the bill slowly dwindled, until legislators were forced to declare Missouri’s paycheck deception proposals dead in December.
We cannot be fooled. As President Bloomingdale said at our Worker Forum on February 26th, “if you start to divide and conquer, it’s only a matter of time before they come for everyone.”
If you or your coworkers have not yet contacted your legislator about paycheck deception, we need you to do it now!