Yesterday, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) signed a right-to-work bill that was sent to him by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature. That makes Missouri the 28th right-to-work state and the sixth state to pass such legislation since 2012. Right-to-work laws give workers the option to stop supporting unions while still enjoying the benefits of union representation. Unions strongly oppose them because they tend to decrease membership and weaken the labor movement.
Although they’ve been around for decades, such laws were confined mostly to the South and West until recently. They’ve become increasingly popular as Republicans have taken over state legislatures and governors’ mansions. As reported in The Kansas City Star:
“…Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday signed legislation making Missouri the country’s 28th right-to-work state.
Hours later, organized labor struck back by filing a rarely used referendum petition seeking to freeze the law and put it before voters in 2018.
Greitens’ signature was thought to be the final step in a decades-long push by Republicans and business groups to enact a right-to-work law in Missouri. But if the law’s opponents gather enough signatures, the battle will carry on.
In right-to-work states, such as Kansas, employees in unionized workplaces can opt out of paying unions for the cost of being represented.
Proponents of right-to-work argue it will bolster Missouri’s economy by making the state more hospitable to businesses.
Unions vehemently oppose right-to-work laws, arguing that the real motivation is political: Republicans want to weaken a political nemesis by allowing some workers to benefit from the contracts labor unions negotiate without having to contribute to covering the costs of those negotiations.
By signing the bill, Greitens fulfilled one of his major campaign pledges. Labor unions spent heavily to defeat Greitens last year based largely on his promise to enact right-to-work legislation. He also mentioned the idea in his State of the State address last month, saying that “Missouri has to become a right-to-work state.
Monday afternoon, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel filed a petition for referendum with the secretary of state’s office. They have until Aug. 28 — the day the right-to-work measure is scheduled to go into effect — to collect enough signatures to place the law on the ballot. If they succeed, right to work won’t take effect until Missourians get the chance to have their say in 2018.”
These are becoming increasingly difficult times for the labor movement. There are real concerns that the U.S Congress may attempt to enact a nationwide right-to-work law