The battle lines are clearly drawn on right-to-work legislation in Missouri. On June 4, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill from the Republican-led legislature that would have made Missouri the 26th right-to-work state.
“This extreme measure would take our state backward, squeeze the middle-class, lower wages for Missouri families … right-to-work is wrong for Missouri, it’s wrong for the middle-class and it must never become the law of the Show Me State,” Nixon said.
Right-to-work undermines unions and drives down wages. It enables “free rider” workers to enjoy the wages and benefits of a union without paying their fair share. In states that have adopted right-to-work, average annual wages are lowered by $1,500. Health benefits and pensions are also reduced or eliminated and worker safety may suffer.
|Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a GOP bill to make Missouri a right-to-work state.
“Gov. Nixon’s opposition to this measure gives us a reason to have faith in our elected officials who march with us in our quest to preserve our quality of life as well as future prosperity for Missouri,” said Michael Walter, St. Louis Local 1439 business manager. Walter is also a member of the International Executive Council.
The Missouri House of Representatives approved right-to-work 92-66. The Senate passed the bill by a 21-13 vote. Proponents of the union-busting bill will have to wait until September to see if the legislature can muster the votes needed to override Nixon’s veto: 109 in the House of Representatives and 23 in the Senate.
Kansas City Local 124 President Rudy Chavez predicts the governor’s veto will be sustained and the legislation will die in the House of Representatives by a handful of votes. “The 2016 session will have more of the same discussion and possibly another right-to-work bill passed and subsequently vetoed,” Chavez said.
Recent law changes in Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan have left the U.S. with 25 right-to-work states. All of Missouri’s neighboring states except Kentucky and Illinois have adopted the legislation.
Right-to-work has been approved by state legislatures largely because of the well-funded efforts of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, which draws funding from big business and works with state lawmakers to sponsor model legislation on a range of issues that includes restricting voting rights, cutting safety and health measures and weakening labor unions.
“We must be diligent, now and through the veto session. Many of those supporting right-to-work do not know anything about the laws or the effects of such action,” Walter said.
Progress Missouri, a progressive advocacy organization in Jefferson City, Mo. reports that ALEC exerts a strong influence in the state and Missouri legislators have received ALEC model legislation they presented as their own.
Nixon’s office has confirmed that since January 2015 only 0.04 percent of people who contacted the governor supported right-to-work.
“The efforts and political capital expended by the GOP are clearly motivated by donor money from outside the state and right-to-work is often mentioned at GOP fundraisers as a priority by gubernatorial candidates,” Chavez said.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce released a Gallup survey of more than 1,000 Missouri employers showing that a majority of Missouri employers and CEOs support making Missouri a right-to-work state.
Missouri Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has said he is focusing this summer on mobilizing support among Missouri lawmakers for an override of Nixon’s veto. He is also considering a run for governor in 2016, when Nixon’s term expires.