Missouri voters overturn the state’s Right to Work law—on the ballot as Proposition A—during a special election yesterday. The law, which was passed by the Republication-controlled legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Eric Greitens in February 2017, was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28, 2017. However, labor groups quickly gathered 310,000 signatures to block the law and place it on the ballot for a public referendum vote Aug. 7, 2018.
Proposition A needed at least 50 percent of voters to affirm the law for Missouri to become a Right to Work state, but it was defeated with 67 percent of voters rejecting the measure. Labor unions spent more than $15 million on the campaign, outspending pro-Right to Work groups eight to one.
“As a result of an influx of out-of-state money from labor organizations seeking to maintain the status quo of involuntary union membership and dues, labor unions in Missouri will continue to benefit from forcing workers to join a union and/or pay union dues as a condition of employment,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Workers deserve the right to freely determine whether to join a union and how best to spend their earnings.”
Currently, there are 27 Right to Work states.
Right to Work laws prevent employees from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment. If all or most of the members of a bargaining unit believe union representation will advance their interests, then nothing in a Right to Work law would prohibit them from exercising their federally protected right to organize a union and collectively bargain with their employer. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that private sector employment grew 5.2 percent faster in Right to Work states than non-Right to Work states from 2003-2013. Additionally, U.S. Department of Commerce data from 2013 found that per capita disposable income, adjusted for cost of living, was higher in Right to Work states than the national average.
In 2017, 86 percent of U.S. construction workers did not belong to a union.