By Yaël Ossowski / September 15, 2015 / Watchdog.org
They say it takes extraordinary circumstances to get ordinary people
into politics. For Mary Hill, a registered nurse, that extraordinary
moment came when union activists began pressuring workers at her
hospital to unionize.
She was ready to join the union, she tells Watchdog.org, but began to
question the union’s motives when leaders began injecting politics
into the workplace — politics unlike her own.
“I was frustrated with them forcibly unionizing workers and the
hospital, even targeting them. “They’d go around doing vicious
political campaigning about Obamacare — and that was in a hospital,” she
“I’m not against unions at all, but national unions don’t have the
individuals’ interest in mind. They’re only there to gain political
support,” said Hill. “Nurses are too busy with patients to need to have
to worry about what unionization will mean for them.”
Hill is among several former union members hoping to persuade Missouri lawmakers to override a veto
by Gov. Jay Nixon on a right-to-work bill. A vote on the bill, which
would end compulsory union membership in the state, could take place
Phill Todd, a Missouri resident and BAC union member, recalls an
encounter with his leadership in 2004, when his union actively endorsed
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Richard Gephardt.
“I went into the union hall and they had the signs up there for
Gephardt for president and McCaskill and all that kind of stuff…. I was a
little bit alarmed about that because there was no way that I was going
to support Gephardt,” Todd told Watchdog.org. “Nobody had ever asked us
who we would prefer.”
He said union leaders were handing out shirts that read “Gephardt for
President. BAC supports Gephardt. He’s ours,” which Todd didn’t want to
Other union members also say their leadership actively spends a good
portion of union dues on political campaigning, almost always for
“Their money goes to Democrat candidates and Democrat issues,” said
Ron Staggs, also resident of Missouri, and a former member of
Communications Workers of America. “You have no say on anything on how
the money’s spent. It’s sent to the national level and it’s spent at the
national level,” he told Watchdog.org. “And it rolls back down from the
national levels to political campaigns.”
Their concerns were exactly what drew Mary Hill to start rallies promoting right-to-work in her state.
The first rally in 2013 gathered just over 100 people, says Hill,
bringing together stakeholders publicly for the first time in Missouri.
The next one, just a few months later, brought in over 200, including
many important members of the Missouri Legislature.
“Now we’ve got the support of the lieutenant governor and former governor,” she said.
Nicholas C. Fondacaro contributed to this report