Last week the Missouri Senate revisited right-to-work legislation, with a hearing on three related bills.
A right-to-work law would ban contracts that require an employee to pay union dues and also prohibit agreements between businesses and unions that would make union fees a condition of employment.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, again this session has proposed legislation that would require a statewide vote on right-to-work. Senate Bill 514, heard by the Senate's committee on general laws last week, would put the issue before voters on the August 2013 ballot.
"From polling data I've seen, I think it would pass," Crowell said. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry says a majority of its member employers support a right-to-work law.
But Crowell isn't confident his bill will make it far this session, which will be his last.
Even if the Senate would approve right-to-work legislation, it's likely to die in the House, he said.
Speaker of the House Steven Tilly, R-Perryville, called right to work a "waste of our legislative time" during a recent interview for the website PoliticMo.
J.J. Lane, business representative for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, said he agrees with Tilley.
"I believe that this shows that this is not a partisan issue at all. It is a matter of choosing who to support. Do we support the workers and small businesses of the state of Missouri, or do we cater to multibillion-dollar big business? I side with the workers, every time," he said.
Lane also said no worker in Missouri is ever forced to join a union. It is always the decision of that individual employee, he said.
"What is also a fact is that right-to-work states' citizens make less money than their non-right-to-work state counterparts," Lane said. "We aren't talking about just union workers. We are talking about all workers, union and nonunion. We are talking about the middle class."
Whether they support it or not, Missourians may get to vote on it even if the legislature doesn't act on it this year. A group known as Missourians for Right to Work says it's pushing to put a right-to-work constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot. However, it has not yet filed an initiative petition with the Missouri secretary of state's office. The last time the issue was put to Missouri voters, in 1978, it was overwhelmingly defeated.
* Green Sky Cleaning Supply, headquartered in Fenton, Mo., has opened its newest franchise location, Green Sky -- Cape Girardeau at 2611 Auto Park Drive. It will operate out of the same location as Roth Restaurant Supply. Green Sky now serves the greater St. Louis area, including Illinois, as a full-line janitorial supply, chemical and equipment distributor. The company offers environmentally friendly Green-Seal certified products. Green Sky Cleaning Supply, which is locally owned and operated, offers all major janitorial supply and equipment product brands, including SCA Tissue, Kimberly-Clark, BayWest, Georgia-Pacific, Pro-Team, EUREKA, VIPER, TC/Rubbermaid Commercial and GOJO/Purell.
"We have been looking for a partner to expand the business services of Roth Restaurant Supply Corporation for years," said Joel Neikirk, owner/operator of Green Sky -- Cape Girardeau. "The distribution network that Green Sky provides will allow us to professionally serve the needs of our region."
Office manager Dean Richardson and sales manager Ben Bertrand will manage the day-to-day operations at Green Sky -- Cape Girardeau. The grand opening of the Green Sky -- Cape Girardeau location will be Jan. 30. Showroom hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information on Green Sky Cleaning Supply, visit www.greenskyclean.com.
* A series of workshops to help business owners will begin Feb. 8 at the MU Extension Center in Jackson. Fast Trac Growth Venture was designed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to help current business owners sharpen their skills. There is no fee to participate in the course; however, it is limited to 15 people. The class will meet twice per week for six weeks at the MU Extension Center in Jackson. Sessions will include facilitated discussions, networking opportunities, speakers and coaching sessions. Attendees are encouraged to use their business as the class example. The program is funded by a grant the Cape Girardeau County University of Missouri Extension Council received from the Delta Regional Authority. To register, call 243-3581 by Feb. 6.
* Former Missouri state senator John Loudon of Ballwin, Mo., will be the guest speaker at the Tri-State AMP luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Port Cape Girardeau in Cape Girardeau. Loudon is a principal with The Legacy Group public relations firm.
Southeast Missourian business editor Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.