Defending Workers' Rights


Wage growth in the United States has remained stagnant since the late 1970’s. This has directly resulted in the massive income gap experienced by the working class and a rapidly shrinking middle class. The loss of union jobs and assaults against wage protections, such as prevailing wage, have also contributed to massive wealth inequality between the working class and wealthy elites.

My platform to #SaveMOJobs includes:

  • Fighting with workers against union-busting legislation
  • Ensuring all Missourian are paid a living wage
  • Ending the assault on prevailing wage
  • Supporting job training and re-training programs, particularly in green energy
  • Promoting policy to bolster entrepreneurship and self-employment
  • Establishing a civilian career pathway for veterans
  • Establishing fair-chance laws for individuals with previous arrests or convictions
  • Strengthening Missouri’s antitrust laws

Saving Unions

As someone who grew up watching my mom help unionize the support staff at her elementary school and serve as president of that union for many years, I intimately understand how the ability to unionize and fight for your wages and benefits can take a struggling family and turn their circumstances around. While I would have never considered my family "upper class" - we still shopped clearance racks and rarely bought anything that wasn't on sale - our lives were much better off, and my mom's quality of work was much better, after they started their union.

Union workers now account for 11.1% of all workers in Missouri, and the increase in union membership last year was the highest since 2004. I am proud to have voted with 67.5% of Missourians against “Right to Work” in 2018, and, if elected, I will fight against any legislation attempting to overturn this vote in the future.

Union jobs have better wages and better benefits - The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average union member earned $1,095 a week last year, compared with $892 for non-union workers. Pensions are more prevalent in union jobs thanks to collective bargaining. In a 2017 study by The Atlantic, "if organized labor were as strong today as it was in the late 1970s, nonunion men without a high-school diploma would be earning 9% more."

Union jobs are safer - In 2019, data fom the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration in NY found that "union construction workers in the Big Apple are five times less likely to suffer a fatal accident compared to their nonunion counterparts". Unions usually have mechanisms for training and apprenticeships, which leads to more skilled labor pools and better safety practices. When union employers invest time and training into their employees, they want to ensure they stay safe on the job site.

Union jobs have better worker protections - Unions are able to better preserve jobs, especially during hard times when layoffs may be possible. Workers are also protected from arbitrary employer actions and can provide legal support in the event of a workplace issue.

Unions set the norm for the rest of the workforce - Unions have given us the 40-hour work week, weekends off, paid sick leave and vacation time, and so many more benefits that the average worker takes for granted. Many of these may never have been possible without unions. Many workers that have never and will never be part of a union receive these benefits because they started from union bargaining and have been ubiquitous in our society.

Increasing the Minimum Wage

As someone who has worked for minimum wage in retail, food, and customer service, I am proud to have voted in favor of “Raise Up Missouri” to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour. The average minimum wage worker today is not the high schooler that many think of - trying to make a few extra bucks on the weekend. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the average minimum wage worker was over 25 years of age (80.4%) working more than 35 hours a week (72.0%).

Missouri's poverty rate is higher than the national average (14% and 12.7%, respectively). Prior to the passage of "Raise Up Missouri", minimum wage was $7.85 across the state. According to a study by Missourians to End Poverty and MIT, "an adult living alone [in 2018] would have to make $10.76 an hour [to receive a 'living wage'], an adult living with a single child would have to make $23.45 and with two children, $26.96. Two adults alone would have to make $18.36, two with a child would have to make $21.96 and with two children, $25.39."

As the foremost superpower in the world, the United States has the means to ensure that no Missourian, or American, goes hungry or lives in poverty. However, GOP members in Jefferson City continue to gut the minimum wage proposition passed by 62.3% of Missourians in 2018. They have excluded several job sectors, such as private teachers, from falling under new minimum wage requirements. This is unacceptable. Our state government should be fighting for better wages for all Missourians, not just those they believe to be important.

Protecting Prevailing Wage

Job Training & The Move to Green Technology

Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Career Pathways for Veterans

Fair-Chance Laws

Strengthening Anti-Trust Legislation

Please pardon our work as we continue to update our policy pages!

© 2020 | Paid for by Friends of Kari L Chesney | Sofia Sanchez Salcedo, Treasurer