Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed legislation ending a longtime practice that made paying union dues a mandatory term or condition of employment in the state.
In so doing, Missouri becomes the 28th right-to-work state in the U.S. Last month, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevins signed a similar right-to-work law which went into effect immediately in another example of the old saying elections have consequences.
Right to work was a campaign promised by first-time candidate and former Navy SEAL Greitens, a Republican, when he ran for governor of Missouri in 2016. At one of several bill signing ceremonies (that was briefly interrupted by hecklers) around the state yesterday, Greitens, 42, declared that “Missouri is open for business.”
He also insisted that the measure will make unions more accountable and responsive to their members or potential members by giving workers a choice.
A similar right-to-work bill that cleared the Missouri legislature was vetoed in 2015 by the former governor, Democrat Jay Nixon.
Workers in Missouri (and in other right-to-work states) no longer have to join a union to get a job or hold on to one under the newly approved law. “Proponents of right-to-work argue it will bolster Missouri’s economy by making the state more hospitable to businesses,” the Kansas City Star observed.
The ink was hardly dry on Greitens’ signature, however, when the organized labor movement and the NAACP launched an effort to put right to work to a statewide referendum, otherwise known as a citizens veto. Labor groups and their like-minded supporters need to collect approximately 100,000 or so signatures by August 28 (the new law’s effective date) to get on the ballot in 2018. If they get enough, the right-to-work law would go on hold until the voters speak.
Another bill on the horizon in Missouri would put automatic union dues paycheck deductions in the public sector on an opt in rather than opt out basis for each employee, St. Louis Public Radio reported. Prevailing wage regulations for construction projects could also be on the chopping block.
Gov. Greitens explained to the Washington Free Beacon that he is confident that right to work will be approved in a referendum, if it comes to that, because Missouri voters were well aware of his position on the issue when they elected him governor. Labor unions, which typically donate a lot of money to Democrat office seekers through union dues, opposed Greitens in the general election.
“We need more quality, high-paying jobs, and by passing right to work we sent a clear message that Missouri is open for business,” Greitens told the Beacon.
“We know that our political opponents will do everything they can to stop our pro-jobs agenda, but the people of Missouri need and want quality jobs.”
“Businesses and their organizations, which typically donate to Republicans, support the legislation. Unions, who more typically back Democrats, contend the inability to collect dues keeps them from bargaining for important rights and benefits for their workers and curbs their political influence,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch detailed.
Right-to-work legislation is currently pending in New Hampshire after passing the state senate there. New GOP Gov. Chris Sununu said that he would sign it into law if it clears the state house and reaches his desk. The house vote is scheduled for tomorrow and is considered a toss-up, according to the Washington Examiner.
“State right-to-work laws have been advancing in the traditional labor stronghold of the Midwest as well as other regions, despite strong opposition by unions. Since 2012, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia have become right-to-work states. Last month, Kentucky joined that wave by enacting a right-to-work law,” the Wall Street Journal chronicled in its coverage of the Missouri law signed by Gov. Eric Greitens.
[Featured Image by Jeff Roberson/AP Images]