The official ballot title is as follows:
“Do the people of the state of Missouri want to adopt Senate Bill 19 (“Right-to-Work”) as passed by the general assembly in 2017, which prohibits as a condition of employment the forced membership in a labor organization (union) or forced payments of dues in full or pro-rata (fair-share); make any activity which violates employees’ rights illegal and ineffective; allow legal remedies for anyone injured as a result of another person violating or threatening to violate employees’ rights; and which shall not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of Senate Bill 19?
State and local government entities expect no costs or savings.”
The fair ballot language is as follows:
“A “yes” vote will adopt Senate Bill 19 (“right-to-work”), passed by the general assembly in 2017. If adopted, Senate Bill 19 will amend Missouri law to prohibit, as a condition of employment, forced membership in a labor organization (union) or forced payments of dues or fees, in full or pro-rata (“fair-share”), to a union. Senate Bill 19 will also make any activity which violates employees’ rights provided by the bill illegal and ineffective and allow legal remedies for anyone injured as a result of another person violating or threatening to violate those employees’ rights. Senate Bill 19 will not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of Senate Bill 19, unless those agreements are amended or renewed after the effective date of Senate Bill 19.
A “no” vote will reject Senate Bill 19 (“right-to-work”), and will result in Senate Bill 19 not becoming Missouri law.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.
The issue of worker’s rights and mandatory union membership as a condition of employment has been debated for decades in Missouri. On August 7, 2018, Missourians will decide which direction they want to take on the issue of right-to-work when they go to the polls to vote on Proposition A.1
Millions of dollars will pour into the state this summer pushing different narratives regarding the positives and negatives of this issue. An informed and educated electorate is necessary for a free people to remain free.
In 2016, the people of Missouri selected a slate of candidates who openly advocated for right-to-work as part of their platform and agenda. Many see this legislation as a significant opportunity for Missouri. Will she join many of her neighbors in welcoming new businesses and improving the opportunity of its workers by allowing them to choose if and how they spend their money, or will she prefer the status quo? Missourians will decide if they want to affirm not only the choice that was made in November 2016, but also the actual legislation that was the fruit of that election in the form of SB 19.
When it passed SB 19, Missouri became the 28th state to push back on the Wagner Act of 1935.2 Right-to-work passed in the Senate by a vote of 21 to 12; and in the House by a staggering 100 Ayes to 59 Noes. It was signed into law on February 2, 2017.
This law prohibits, as a condition of employment, requiring employees to become, refrain from, or remain a member of a labor organization. It also prohibits requiring employees to pay dues, fees, assessments, or other charges to a labor organization; the law shall not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of SB 19.
Here are some pros and cons regarding this issue that is so vital to economic future of our state:
PRO: Proponents of right-to-work laws maintain that this law will protect workers’ freedom and make unions more responsive to the needs of its members. They claim it is necessary to keep Missouri economically competitive against neighboring states and that it will increase wages for Missourians, and that compulsory union fees violate worker’s rights of association. The law will make union dues voluntary, rather than coerced, as a condition of employment, which gives workers a choice regarding how their dues are spent. Others say that new businesses will be attracted to the state bringing more jobs and improving the economy for all workers.3
CON: Primary opposition to right-to-work laws comes from union leadership and some union workers. Those unions that oppose worker freedom to opt out of a mandatory relationship argue that these laws lower wages for workers and hurt working families. Opponents also argue that the bill is an anti-union piece of legislation that will increase unsafe working conditions. They maintain that workers will not get the same benefits received by union workers and these laws jeopardize that workplace safety.4
Missouri, like other once powerful union strongholds, is not the only state that moved toward worker freedom in the past decade. Recently, both Wisconsin (2015) and Michigan (2013) have chosen to become right-to-work states in the wake of the economic downturn of 2008.5
2 Formally the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, creates private sector employees rights to organize unions, pursue collective bargaining for terms and conditions at work, and to strike.