Right-To-Work In Missouri Depends On A Handful Of Republican Legislators

Samantha Zinnen Research Fellow, Center for Worker Freedom
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Missouri lawmakers have an opportunity to make a bold play for the state’s economy by passing right-to-work.

Right-to-work legislation, which outlaws forced unionization, passed both houses in May before Governor Jay Nixon vetoed it (at the bidding of his Big Labor puppetmasters). The vote was 92-66 in the House and 21-13 in the Senate.

That’s just seventeen votes shy of veto override in the House and only two in the Senate. Now the legislators will likely take up the issue again when a veto session convenes in Jefferson City in September.

This is the red zone of state politics.

Right now, the players on the field (the legislators) have a choice – to play like a team and reap the benefits of right-to-work for the state or to pursue their own self-interest and leave Missourians with less opportunity and freedom.

Analysts who have been following the surging support among lawmakers since the veto now believe the ball is closer than ever to the goal line.

Every player counts.

But there are some GOP legislators who are refusing to get off the bench, some not wanting to come out against unions who donated to their campaigns. But this vote needs to be about Missouri’s future, not theirs.

It doesn’t matter how these particular members voted in the past. It’s about the game here and now. And now needs Representatives Kathie Conway (R-104), Kevin Corlew (R-14), Nick King (R-17), Bart Korman (R-42), Jeanie Lauer (R-32), Becky Ruth (R-114) and Chrissy Sommer (R-106) to do what’s right for Missouri.

Many of the representatives are likely concerned about the union presence in their districts and fear their next election if they support right-to-work. But the representatives should be worried about what will happen to Missouri if they don’t make it open for business.

Unions claim that right-to-work lowers wages, but James Sherk, Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation and author of a forthcoming study on the effect of right-to-work laws on wages and employments, disagrees:

“Private-sector workers in right-to-work states have the same real wages as in states where the government forces them to pay union dues. And workers in right-to-work states also have lower unemployment rates.”

Counties in Kentucky have seen real rewards for passing local right-to-work ordinances. Warren County, the first county to ever pass right-to-work, saw 47 new projects with the potential to invest 900 million dollars and at least 4700 new jobs from December 2014 to May 2015, according to Ron Bunch of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce.  That’s more than entire state did in the previous year because county officials took the bold step to make right-to-work a reality in their community.

Missourians watching from the sidelines need to let their players on the field hear their cheers for right-to-work: Sixty percent of Missouri residents expressed support of the measure in an April 2014 survey by American Viewpoint.

Right-to-work isn’t just good for workers, or the economy, but also the Republican Party. With the exception of Virginia, every Republican-controlled state government is a right-to-work state.

But most importantly, the lawmakers need to vote for right-to-work because it is right for Missouri.

Samantha Zinnen is research fellow for the Center for Worker Freedom, a special project of Americans for Tax Reform.