Missouri Democrats and unions celebrated Tuesday night after voters rejected and nullified the state’s right-to-work law passed by the legislature last year.
Roughly two-thirds of Missourians voted to repeal right-to-work protections that prevented employers and unions from forcing individuals to join a union or pay agency fees as a condition of employment. The vote was a setback for Republicans in the solidly red state, The Washington Post reports.
“At a time when working families are struggling because wages are stagnant and health care and education costs are soaring, nobody should be forced to pay union dues,” a spokeswoman for GOP senate candidate Josh Hawley’s campaign told WaPo in an email.
The state referendum, known as Proposition A, gave state residents the chance to overturn the legislation passed by the state legislature in February 2017. Under Missouri law, legislation can be subjected to a referendum if 100,000 residents sign a petition supporting the challenge. Unions pulled together 310,000 signatures, temporarily blocking the law from taking effect until after the vote, CNN reports.
The Missouri referendum is a positive for unions and Democratic politicians who have suffered a string of labor defeats recently, including a major loss in the Supreme Court. A SCOUTS ruling June 27 effectively placed right-to-work protections over every public employee in the U.S., affecting roughly 5 million government workers. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Union Dues)
The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees workers’ rights to unionize and governs the processes through which votes to unionize are held, under President Donald Trump has rolled back several pro-union policies put in place under former-President Barack Obama.
Unions hope the Missouri vote is a swing in fortunes for organized labor, which has been on a steady decline for decades. In 1945, unions represented a third of the U.S. workforce. That proportion had fallen to 11.9 percent by 2017.
“The more states that have gone that direction — curbing union rights — the more likely it is that we will see federal legislation attempting to do the same thing, and so I think that Missouri is very important,” labor educator and former University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Judy Ancel told The Kansas City Star.
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