State Republicans hoping to make Missouri the 26th right-to-work state failed Wednesday to override a veto blocking their reforms.
The measure has pitted Republicans against their Democratic colleagues, the governor, unions and some within their own party. House Bill 116 would have meant for the first time, the majority of states were right-to-work. The policy allows workers to choice whether they want to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Back in June, however, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the measure.
With a 96 to 63 vote, house Republicans failed to get the 2/3 majority necessary to override his block. If it did pass, it would have moved onto the state senate for a final vote later that same day.
“I like looking at the numbers and looking at the facts,” Republican Rep. Denny Hoskins said before the vote. “And the fact is right-to-work states are growing faster economically than forced union states.”
Supporters argue the policy helps create jobs while providing workers with a choice, while critics say right-to-work has no effect on job growth and hurts workers ability to negotiate. Right-to-work laws, however, do not prohibit workers from freely joining a union, nor unions from organizing.
“There is no state that is right-to-work that is thinking about going back to being a forced union state,” Hoskins added. “Those workers enjoy their freedom.”
States have been able to decide for themselves whether they want to be right-to-work since the passage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. In no state can a person be forced to join a union, but in states without right-to-work laws, nonunion workers can be legally compelled to pay a fee to their workplace union.
Unions have been at the forefront of opposing right-to-work in Missouri. They have held rallies and have engaged in outreach campaigns in opposition to the measure. Local chapters of the Teamsters and the Communications Workers of America were among the unions who attended the override vote as well.
Additionally, many of the Missouri lawmakers opposed to the bill have union connections. Not a week after vetoing the measure, Nixon received a $50,000 campaign contribution from the United Automobile Workers. Nixon, however, is not the only Democrat entrenched with organized labor in the state. State Sen. Gina Walsh and House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, both of whom voted against the bill originally, are local union leaders.
Walsh is currently the president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council, while Hummel is the Treasurer for Missouri chapter of the AFL-CIO. Additionally, six of the seven Republicans opposed to the measure have each received thousands of dollars worth of union contributions.
While unions have rallied in opposition of the measure, other groups have fought for it. Back in July, the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity launched a media campaign to promote the policy ahead of the override vote. The group has also reportedly knocked on 100,000 doors and made 300,000 phone calls to talk with residents about the issue.
“Right-to-work has been shown to attract businesses and boost jobs,” Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, said in a statement. “Missouri is competing with right-to-work states on almost all sides. If it wants to stay competitive it needs to be right-to-work.”
Nevertheless, Americans for the most part approve of right-to-work laws. According to Gallup, right-to-work approval is at 71 percent nationwide.
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