Delays sidetrack discussion on secret ballots
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Delays sidetrack discussion on secret ballots

Date: March 30, 2009
By: Theo Keith
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HJR 37

Intro: Arguments, a fire alarm, and dozens of questions sidetracked a bill Monday that would let Missourians decide whether workers can still vote by secret ballot.

Theo Keith has more from Jefferson City. 

RunTime:1:54
OutCue: SOC

It took nearly two hours for supporters of Southwest Missouri Republican Representative Mike Cunningham's bill to speak.

Opponents waited for their chance, but time ran out this week.

Cunningham says his bill, which allows voters to change the state's Constitution, goes against a measure in the U.S. Congress.

Actuality:  CUNNING1.WAV
Run Time: 00:09
Description: Currently, our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are making an all-out effort to strip men and women of their right to private ballot in the workplace. What could be more undemocratic than that?

Cunningham says making votes public leads to intimidation and harassment from employers and unions.

But not everyone shared his view.

St. Louis Democratic Representative Jamilah Nasheed says workers now can organize publicly, by secret ballot, or by petition.

She says Cunningham's bill would cut these three ways to just one - the secret ballot.

Actuality:  NASHEED1.WAV
Run Time: 00:15
Description: This is about giving people less opportunities to organize, and I think that that's really unfair. It's a really sad situation, because I could be at one of my kids' school right now, but right now I have to be here listening to this dog-and-pony show.

And then, other delays.

The Capitol fire alarm went off, which sent the lawmakers and witnesses outside.

Actuality:  FISHER1.WAV
Run Time: 00:10
Description: Let me interrupt. We need to go out - women and children and Marines first. (laughter)

After the hearing resumed, the squabbles began.

Southwest Missouri Republican Representative Kevin Wilson, testifying for the bill, says he has seen unions intimidate workers.

But Imperial Democratic Representative Tim Meadows took offense.

Actuality:  WILSON1.WAV
Run Time: 00:11
Description: Meadows: Well sir, I'm going to tell you never, ever in my experience have I ever seen that happen.

CROSSTALK

Wilson: I can tell you sir, in my experience I have seen it.

Meadows: Well, never, ever in my experience I have not.

Wilson: I never say never.


At the end of the hearing, not much was decided - other than there would be another hearing.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.


Intro: Lawmakers, the business community and union workers packed a House committee hearing Monday to debate a bill that would let Missourians decide whether to protect secret ballot votes.

Theo Keith has more from the State Capitol. 

RunTime:0:42
OutCue: SOC

Southwest Missouri Republican Representative Mike Cunningham told the House Workforce Committee his bill protects workers from letting others see how they vote.

 

Actuality:  CUNNING2.WAV
Run Time: 00:12
Description: Everyone will know how you vote. Your employer, the union, your friends, your co-workers, etc. This could make you subject to intimidation and harassment from your employer, unions, from friends, neighbors, even your family.

Democrats disagreed, saying Cunningham's bill would actually limit the ways workers can organize.

It took two hours for supporters to testify, and opponents must wait until next week to speak.

If passed, there would be a statewide referendum in 2010 to change the Missouri Constitution.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.


Intro: Business leaders told the House Workforce Committee they supported a bill that would allow Missouri voters to change the state Constitution.

Theo Keith has more from Jefferson City. 

RunTime:0:42
OutCue: SOC

Gene Schwartz is the president of K&S Wire Products in southwest Missouri.

He says his employees support a bill that would let state voters decide if secret ballot votes should be a Constitutional right.

Actuality:  SCHW1.WAV
Run Time: 00:13
Description: My employees emphatically have instructed me they want to keep that secret ballot. It's vitally important, it's a part of being an American, it's the most democratic thing you can do today.

Democrats opposed the measure, saying Republicans want to block unions from organizing.

Union members waited two hours to testify against the bill, but must come back next week because the committee ran out of time.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Theo Keith, Newsradio 1120 KMOX.