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In the order received, the answers to this week’s question: “What will you do as Attorney General to defend workers’ rights?”

If you like any single answer, or if you like more than one, please show some support to the candidate(s) with some cash. Representative Margaret Donnelly’s ActBlue page is here, and Representative Jeff Harris’ Actblue page is here. Senator Chris Koster doesn’t have an Actblue page (yet – I hope), but we’ll add the link if he obtains one. 

Representative Margaret Donnelly’s answer:

I have been a part of – and worked with – the labor movement all of my life. I am a former member of the Illinois CWA and the Wisconsin NEA. I have a 100% AFL-CIO voting record as a state representative.

It is a basic right of workers in our country not to be exploited: to be paid a fair wage and to have safe and decent working conditions. State attorneys general have not always done enough to protect this right, but as workers see their wages, pensions and safety constantly threatened, attorneys general must proactively defend workers’ rights. As attorney general, I will enforce wage and hour laws, workplace safety, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

In Missouri, we especially need to be vigilant enforcing new state and federal minimum wage laws. Missouri voters last year increased the state minimum wage and required annual increases based on cost-of-living growth, and Congress this year raised the federal minimum wage. This will be confusing for employers and employees, as they try to keep up with which law requires the higher minimum wage. I will initiate an aggressive education and enforcement campaign to ensure that all workers are paid the required wage.

Recent events also call for attorneys general to keep a close watch on pension plans. A pension is a promise made to workers by their employer and must be respected as such. I will defend Missouri’s public pensions and make certain Missouri companies are complying with the 2006 Pension Protection Act.

Representative Harris’ answer:

Thank you again for your great work on behalf of Missouri’s progressive
community. As the House Democratic leader, I led the fight to stop the
Blunt agenda, which has been so devastating to Missouri’s working

Having served as an assistant attorney general, I know what must be done
to protect the rights of Missourians who work hard and play by the rules.
As attorney general, my labor division will enforce minimum wage laws and
will aggressively prosecute prevailing wage cases and employers that
violate labor laws.  Worker protection will be a top priority in my

Since taking office, Matt Blunt has privatized countless state services at
the expense of hard working state workers, enabling him to reward his
friends with new state contracts.

As your attorney general, I will immediately examine the costs associated
with privatization and systematically review the status of worker
protections currently placed in contracts entered into by the state. I
will also initiate legislation that requires state contracts to have
strict penalty provisions for businesses that violate our labor laws.

Finally, I want to reiterate my support for public sector collective
bargaining.  When the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Peter Kinder sued
the state to get Governor Holden’s collective bargaining executive
order rescinded, Jay Nixon turned to me as assistant attorney general to
handle that case.  I successfully defended that executive order in court
and would do so again as attorney general.

Please visit my website at http://www.electjeffharris.com to learn more about my

Senator Koster’s answer:

Throughout my 13 years in public service, I have been proud to stand with Missouri’s working families. As the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Cass County, I was recognized as one Missouri’s toughest prosecutors of prevailing wage violations. One of the proudest accomplishments of my career was fighting successfully to have the Cass County Justice center built with a Project Labor Agreement. Today, that Justice Center is the envy of counties across Missouri.

In the Missouri Senate, I have been a staunch opponent of efforts to outlaw collective bargaining and make Missouri a right-to-work state. I have also sponsored legislation to crack down on employers who exploit illegal immigrants for cheap labor.

My record on workers’ rights has been recognized with endorsements of my candidacy for Attorney General by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Missouri State Council of Firefighters, SEIU Local #2000, the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, the Greater Kansas City Building & Construction Trades, the Carpenters’ District Council of Kansas City and Vicinity, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local #1287.

As Missouri’s next Attorney General, I will make the vigorous defense of workers’ rights a cornerstone of the office. I will crack down on employers who undermine our work force by exploiting cheap, illegal labor and show how an Attorney General who is focused on a single problem can end prevailing wage violations in the state of Missouri. And I will continue my unfailing support for the working family agenda by standing by my permanent and undying opposition to right-to-work in our state.

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