Missouri labor unions collected the required signatures to push back the implementation of the state’s right-to-work laws, and hope to nullify the new legislation through a ballot measure in 2018.
After turning in 300,000 signatures Friday, Missouri unions and their allies are preparing for the larger battle to come in 2018 when voters will decide the fate of the state’s recent right-to-work legislation, passed under new Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. The legislation allows employees to opt out of paying union dues.
No state can compel workers to join a union, but in states without right-to-work protections, non-union employees can be compelled to pay union dues, regardless of their status as a non-union member.
Greitens signed the bill in February, allowing workers to avoid paying union dues at union shops. The passage of the legislation is considered a major victory to Missouri Republicans and business groups who have long sought right-to-work legislation in the “Show-Me State.”
While hailed by the business community as a positive, unions decried the action as “dangerous” to the well-being of working families.
The move to become a right-to-work state was viewed as a heavy lift by political observers, despite Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature. As recently as 2015, Missouri Republicans were “doubtful” about passing right-to-work legislation. Part of that sentiment was due to the presence of then-Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed a right-to-work bill in June 2015.
Missouri became the 28th right-to-work state, joining Kentucky as the newest entrant into a movement that has swept across the industrial Midwest. (RELATED: Kentucky Passes Right To Work Legislation)
Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have all passed right-to-work bills since 2012. Proponents of right-to-work argue that the policy helps create jobs and provides employees with a choice as to whether they want to pay into a union that they may not align themselves with. Opponents claim that the policy of allowing workers to choose whether or not to pay union dues undermines the ability of employees to negotiate fairly with management.
“By the time this is over, Missouri union bosses will have spent millions of forced dues dollars in their effort to perpetuate their power to have a worker fired for not paying money to a union they oppose,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our concern is that Big Labor wants a confusing ballot question because they know that when explained simply, Right to Work is very popular.”
The Missouri AFL-CIO, which is a part of the effort to nullify right-to-work laws in Missouri, did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
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