IBJ: Will there be a new push to make Missouri a Right to Work state?
Nelson: There are elections next August and November but no statewide elections. It’s not a big election year. I’ve been told by the insiders that the Republicans will pass a resolution in the spring to put a referendum on the ballot in August. They have control. They have a super majority in the House of Representatives; they have a super majority in the Senate; and, if they can get their troops all together, they could override every veto that the governor can put forward. That’s the plan I’m seeing. So, Mr. Politician won’t be taking a side; he’ll just be letting the people of Missouri decide. That’s good politics.
IBJ: Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana have all adopted Right to Work. Will Missouri be next?
Nelson: You look at the map and the map ain’t pretty but we think we’ve got a coalition together. We’re going to be doing polling and I’m not going to like the results of the poll because I know what it’s going to be. We’re going to poll our members and we want to know what their opinion is. I’m going to say probably 50 percent of our members have no idea what Right to Work is. If it’s on the ballot in the August primary, we’re going to need right at 900,000 votes to beat it.
IBJ: Whose initiative is it?
Nelson: The chambers of commerce and the manufacturers. The National Right to Work Committee is the big player here. They’re the ones that have the big money. If they’re looking at a 50-50 poll, they won’t spend a lot of money here. That’s what our goal is — to get people better educated. That’s the only thing that we can see to deter them from coming in.
IBJ: What do you think would be the impact if Missouri approved Right to Work?
Nelson: If we became Right to Work tomorrow, it would have a definite negative impact on the working families — not the union families — the working families. That’s why our website is www.protectmissourifamilies.com. It doesn’t have a thing to do with unions. It’s got to do with the working families.
IBJ: Why do you say that?
Nelson: Because if I’m making $20 an hour, my supervisor is usually making $25.50. If I’m making $12 an hour, my supervisor’s making $12.50. There’s got to be a standard. There’s got to be some kind of a barometer to go by. And everybody has to take a pay cut. The Right to Work is the right to work for less. That’s what it’s about and it’s going to hurt us all.
I was talking to a car dealer one day. I said, “How many cars you can sell to a guy who’s making minimum wage? You won’t sell them. He might buy that old junker back there.” We all have to make a decent wage. That’s all we’re looking for. It doesn’t have anything to do with union or non-union. It’s about protecting Missouri families. If the people of Missouri don’t have spendable money, it’s going to impact the commerce in the state of Missouri. I go to the car dealers; I go to the restaurants; I go to the taverns; I go to all the places where people consume things. If they don’t have money, they’re not consuming. It’s all about protecting Missouri families. There’s not one thing that we write; there’s not one thing that we hand out that has anything to do with unions. We’re not promoting unions. We’re promoting Missouri families.
IBJ: Do you think it will be on the ballot? If so, what do you think will be the outcome?
Nelson: I’ve got to believe this is going to be on the ballot. They’ll pass that resolution. They don’t have any reason not to. Why wouldn’t they? They’re not going to get any stronger the following year. So, we’re just assuming they’re going to do it, but I think that we can beat it. Right now, the latest poll that I’ve been given shows it’s about 50-50. Fifty percent say it’s a good idea, 50 percent say it’s a bad idea. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. This will not come to a vote until at least August of next year. We have to peak in June or July of next year to beat it.