Dem. State Senator: Union Worker Sexism to Blame for Right to Work

Missouri on verge of becoming 28th right-to-work state

Jamilah Nasheed

Jamilah Nasheed / AP

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A Democratic state senator said that the sexism of union workers is to blame for Missouri's passage of right to work.

The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 21-12 on Thursday to ban coercive unionism. Missouri is on the verge of becoming the 28th right-to-work state, as newly elected GOP Gov. Eric Greitens has pledged to sign the legislation, which prohibits businesses from making union membership a condition for employment.

The swiftness of the bill's passage in the statehouse angered state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D.), who took to the Senate floor to blame union workers for giving Republicans control of the state. Nasheed said that the GOP sweep of in the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and presidential races reflected that male union members "don’t like a woman ruling the world."

"How did we get here? You have Democrats who voted for Republicans," she said during debate on Wednesday. "We have Democrat union members who voted for Republicans, not even thinking about their own bottom line, but thinking about the fact that they didn’t like Barack Obama and they don’t like a woman ruling the world."

Every major union in Missouri has opposed right to work over the years. They had been successful at blocking legislation in the past. In 2015, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed right to work and Republican defections prevented a legislative override. Unions once again mobilized their members to demonstrate at the statehouse as the legislation made its way through the legislature.

Nasheed said that their opposition to the bill became meaningless once Greitens and Trump carried the state. She blamed crossover voters from union households for guaranteeing right to work's passage, saying that it was motivated by sexism.

"Even though we’re Democrats, we’re going to vote Republican because at the end of the day, we can’t get with the fact of a woman controlling our destiny, and then they go with the Democrat destroying their destiny," she said. 

Nasheed said that the Democratic minority in the state must challenge and "agitate" in order to block Greitens and the GOP, which holds large majorities in the Senate and House, from enacting a conservative agenda.

"The Republicans, they have their philosophical views on what should be policy in this state," she said. "The Democrats, we have less power, but we can agitate, we can advocate, and we can aggravate."

Nasheed is no stranger to agitation. In 2014, she was arrested during the Ferguson protests for refusing to leave a demonstration in front of a police station. She was carrying a gun at the time of her arrest despite not having a concealed carry permit. Police suspected she was intoxicated at the time of her arrest, but she declined to take a breathalyzer test. She called the arrest "character assassination." She received criticism from other lawmakers, as well as protestors.

"Hours after Nasheed's arrest, activist Anthony Shahid was met with boos when he gave a crowd an update on [Nasheed's] arrest," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. "Most of the protesters seemed unsupportive of the lawmaker."

Missouri will become the second state to pass right to work in the wake of the 2016 elections and the 28th right-to-work state in the country. Kentucky became the 27th right-to-work state on Jan. 8. The New Hampshire state Senate passed right to work on Jan. 19, the same day Missouri's House passed the bill. New Hampshire's GOP-controlled House of Representatives is now debating it.

Here is the full video of Nasheed's remarks, which was captured by GOP tracking and research firm Missouri Rising.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is mcmorris@freebeacon.com.

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