ST. LOUIS (CN) – A group of roofers claims Missouri unconstitutionally requires local governments to hire only workers from Missouri or states that don’t restrict hiring during periods of “excessive unemployment.” The state’s so-called Excessive Unemployment Law, adopted in 1993, favors in-state workers for public works projects when the unemployment rate is above 5 percent for two consecutive months.
The law also permits the hiring of workers from states that don’t have similar restrictions barring Missouri laborers from working on public works projects in those states.
Illinois-based Lakeside Roofing and Missouri-based Shay Roofing claim the law bars them from hiring “experienced and qualified roofing workers who reside in Illinois.” They say the law poses “serious and imminent risks of harm,” including having their work suspended, losing public works contracts, not being allowed to bid on future projects, and facing fines for alleged violations.
Several roofers also joined the lawsuit, claiming they “have a fundamental right and privilege, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, to perform their livelihood as roofing journeymen and tradesmen without unreasonable restrictions and restraints imposed by any State, County, or local government, such as the restrictions and restraints imposed by the Law, regardless of how state legislatures in the so-called restrictive States have decided to craft their own State laws affecting the employment of non-residents.”
“Missouri’s Excessive Unemployment Law, which punishes a citizen from another State in retaliation against that other State’s adoption of a law which impairs the privileges of citizens from Missouri, adheres to a policy of two wrongs by two States make a right and has no place in our system of the Union of States as contemplated and required under the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states.
The roofers seek an order declaring the law unconstitutional and asserting that Illinois is a non-restrictive state.
They are represented by Michael E. Wilson of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale.
Defendants are St. Louis County, Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster and several commissioners from the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.