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Former State Treasurer and declared 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (r) decided to comment on the organized labor situation in Wisconsin via Twitter:

@sarah_steelman Sarah Steelman

Kudos Wisc leadership standing up for taxpayers against union demands. Wisc shows problem with collective bargaining for public employees. 4 hours ago

Apparently, Sarah Steelman is too busy catering to teabaggers to read the Missouri Constitution:

@MBersin Michael Bersin

@sarah_steelman So, I take it you don’t believe in Article I, section 29 of the Missouri Constitution? 11 minutes ago

In case you were wondering:

Missouri Constitution

Article I


Section 29

Organized labor and collective bargaining.

Section 29. That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.

….(2007) Section applies to public employees as well as private sector employees. Independence-National Education Association v. Independence School District, 223 S.W.3d 131 (Mo.banc).

In 2007, from the Missouri Supreme Court [Independence-National Education Association v. Independence School District, 223 S.W.3d 131 (Mo.banc)] – SC87980 (download):

….Both sides of this controversy cite the debates of the constitutional convention to support their respective positions as to whether the constitutional convention delegates did or did not intend that public employees be included in article I, section 29.(FN3)  

Section 29 is part of Missouri’s current Constitution, which was the product of a constitutional convention in 1943 and 1944 and was adopted by the voters in 1945.  While the debates of the convention are interesting, they neither add to nor subtract from the plain meaning of the constitution’s words.  Missouri’s voters did not vote on the words used in the deliberations of the constitutional convention.  The voters voted on the words in the Constitution, which says “employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively….”

“Employees” plainly means employees.  There is no adjective; there are no words that limit “employees” to private sector employees.  The meaning of section 29 is clear and there is, accordingly, no authority for this Court to read into the Constitution words that are not there.  Kearney Special Road Dist. v. County of Clay, 863 S.W.2d 841, 842 (Mo. banc 1993).(FN4)

The doctrine of stare decisis promotes security in the law by encouraging adherence to previously decided cases.  Medicine Shoppe Int’l, Inc. v. Director of Revenue, 156 S.W.3d 333, 334-35 (Mo. banc 2005).  Stare decisis, however, “is not absolute, and the passage of time and the experience of enforcing a purportedly incorrect precedent may demonstrate a compelling case for changing course.”  Id. at 335.  This is such a case.  Clouse contradicts the plain meaning of article I, section 29, which states simply that employees, without qualification, have the right to collective bargaining.  Deviations from clear constitutional commands – although longstanding – do not promote respect for the rule of law.  If the people want to change the language of the constitution, the means are available to do so.  Mo. Const. art. III, sec. 50.  This Court will not change the language the people have adopted.  Clouse is overruled.

In addition to being consistent with the plain meaning of article I, section 29, this decision does not violate the nondelegation doctrine, to whatever extent the doctrine still exists.  To allow employees to bargain collectively does not require the employer to agree to any terms with the represented groups.  The employer is free to reject any and all proposals made by the employees.  The employer is therefore not delegating or bargaining away any of its legislative power.  Missey, 441 S.W.2d at 41.  

The nondelegation doctrine is no impediment to applying the plain meaning of this explicit constitutional command….

[emphasis added]

I don’t believe we’ll be seeing organized labor going door to door or making phone calls on behalf of Sarah Steelman’s campaign in 2012.