ST. LOUIS - As Missouri and the rest of the country come to terms with the results of the Nov. 2 mid-term elections, the Republican agenda here is already becoming crystal clear.
The new leader of the Missouri Senate, Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) pledged November 4 to actively pursue the agenda of big-business. In a press conference announcing his election as the next Senate president pro term, Mayer said the Republican controlled Missouri House and Senate would work to pass so-called right-to-work legislation.
The president pro term plays a big role in determining which issues get advanced by appointing legislators to chair committees and referring bills to committees.
Right-to-work, called "right-to-work-for-less" by unions and community groups, would make Missouri an open-shop state like Kansas, Tennessee and Arkansas. Right-to-work legislation would bar closed-union shops, where all union-represented workers are required to join the union and pay union dues.
If right-to-work legislation passes in Missouri then unions would have to represent all workers in a shop, even if they don't pay dues. In other words, workers would benefit from the union negotiated contract and benefits and receive union protection when filing grievances even if they refuse to pay dues, which would place increased financial strain on unions.
At the press conference, Mayer said improving Missouri's business climate will be his top priority, and making Missouri a right-to-work state is a key part of that plan.
Mayer argued that Republicans "need to be bold about this new agenda."
Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected right-to-work legislation back in 1978, when pro-business groups tried to get it on the ballot by initiative petition. However, right-to-work supporters, like the Associated Industries of Missouri and the Chamber of Commerce, helped to elect many of the Republican candidates that won Nov. 2.
Republicans won record majorities in both Missouri chambers. The GOP now has 106 of the 163 seats in the Missouri House.
On the bright-side, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon would likely veto any right-to-work legislation that come to his desk, forcing the Republicans and their big-business backers to collect petition signatures to get the measure on the ballot through initiative petition - unless, of course, they can take back the governor's seat in 2012.
Photo: At AFL-CIO St. Louis Labor-to-Labor walk, May 2008. CC 2.0