Missouri Republicans have a second chance to pass right-to-work when the legislative session opens Wednesday, but leadership within the party is expressing doubt.
The state looked close to enacting the policy during the last legislative session. A Republican sponsored measure was able to successfully pass the legislature despite fierce opposition. It was vetoed June, however, by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The new legislative session means the policy has new hope, but supporters are expressing doubts.
“I think you’re going to see debate on labor reform,” House Speaker Todd Richardson told St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Whether that includes right to work or not I think is an open question at this point.”
House Republicans tried to override the veto before the last session ended Sept. 16. They were unable to get the the two-thirds majority necessary to defy the governor. The bill would have moved on to the state Senate for a final vote later that same day if the veto override was successful.
“I don’t intend to have another Pyrrhic discussion on right to work,” Richardson also noted. “I wouldn’t say it’s not a high priority. I think it’s a reflection of the fact that we want to have an approach that allows us to get something into law.”
The main issues dividing supporters and critics is jobs and worker rights. Supporters argue the policy helps create jobs while providing workers a choice. Critics, though, claim it undermines the ability of workers to negotiate with their employers. Right–to–work laws do not prohibit workers from freely joining a union.
The passage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act first allowed states to decide whether they want to be right-to-work. In no state can a person be forced to join a union, but in states without right–to–work laws, non-union 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 engaged in outreach campaigns in opposition of the measure. Local chapters of the Teamsters and the Communications Workers of America were among the unions that attended the override vote as well.
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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