Pro right-to-work group accused of armed intimidation

By Benjamin Peters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A pro-right-to-work group is catching some flak after it was reported that four armed men were handing out literature opposing the anti-RTW movement in Buchanan County.

According to a report by the St. Joseph News-Press, the men were seen walking the grounds of the Buchanan County Courthouse on Thursday, Aug. 10 and openly carrying firearms while distributing brochures published by Liberty Alliance, a pro-RTW group.

A recent Kansas City Star report shows that Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign finance director, Meredith Gibbons, is helping raise money for Liberty Alliance. Records from the Missouri Ethics Commission also show Liberty Alliance receiving $100,000 from Republican mega-donor David Humphreys, a longtime right-to-work supporter. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also supports right-to-work, donated $10,000 to the group on July 26. The Chamber did not respond to inquiries as of the time of publication.

“Right-to-work is a deceptive ploy to strip workers of their rights. The governor, Mr. Humphreys and the state chamber are terrified by the prospect of right-to-work going on the ballot because they know Missourians will reject it. But fear that voters will block their anti-worker policies is no excuse for resorting to armed intimidation,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said in a statement. “Such tactics have no place in a democratic society, and Gov. Greitens, David Humphreys and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce are worthy of nothing but contempt for being complicit in their use.”

Under Missouri’s open-carry laws, the men are allowed to have firearms, but according to the report from the St. Joseph News-Press, the sight of armed men approaching people raised some concern.

“That was disappointing,” Laura Swinford with the pro-labor group We Are Missouri said. “This campaign from the beginning has been prepared to go the distance and has been ready for whatever comes out of the opposition’s playbook, but that being said, seeing someone carrying a weapon openly in such an irresponsible fashion in front of a county courthouse is very troubling. It’s disappointing for the community. And that sends a message out to everyone. Everyone in that community saw that image, and I think that was very disappointing to see, but it certainly will not detract us from continuing to move forward with our plan to gather signatures and make sure Missourians have the opportunity to vote on this right-to-work bill.”

The Missouri Times reached out to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Office for comment but has not received a response as of the time of publishing this article.

The fight over right-to-work, meanwhile, continues to grow more tense, as it’s been reported that the unions have gathered as much as 300,000 signatures, well over the estimated need. To get the referendum on the ballot, petitioners are required to gather about 90,000 signatures before Aug. 28.

FEATURED IMAGE: Gov. Eric Greitens signs right-to-work into law Feb. 6. 2017 (Travis Zimpfer/MISSOURI TIMES)

This story originally appeared on The Missouri Times.

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