Right to Work is Right for Missouri

On May 12, Missouri took a great leap forward toward becoming the 26th right to work (RTW) state. First, the State Senate passed the bill 21-13. Then on May 13, the Missouri House sent the RTW bill to Governor Jay Nixon's desk with a vote of 92-66.

Hopefully the below facts can persuade Gov. Nixon to get past partisan politics and do what is right for his state’s citizens by signing RTW into law. Further, he should take note that 54 percent of Missourians support RTW against only 34 percent opposed, according to a survey conducted by the Missouri Alliance for Freedom and former Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones.

As I've previously written, RTW is imperative to secure worker freedom by giving workers the choice on whether or not to pay union dues. It is also a boon to any state’s economy. Here are some facts on what RTW would mean to Missouri's workforce (see the CEI study, An Interstate Analysis of Right to Work Laws):

  • Real total personal income grew by 165 percent in right to work states over a 31-year period, outpacing the national average of 123 percent growth;
  • In Missouri, workers lost an estimated $3,040 from not having a right to work law;
  • Population has steadily grown in RTW states, jumping from about 29 percent in 1970 to 46 percent by 2013;
  • According to Census data, during 2000-2009, more than 4.9 million native-born Americans moved from non-RTW to RTW states—an average of more than 1,450 persons per day;
  • Over the 35-year period, nationwide total employment grew by 71 percent. Right to work states significantly outpaced this average, with employment growing by 105.3 percent. Non-RTW states lagged behind both RTW states and the national average, with an employment growth of only 50 percent.
  • Nationally, real total personal income grew by 123 percent over a 31-year period. Compared to the national average, RTW states experienced substantially higher growth, at a rate of 165 percent. Union states experienced below average income growth of 99 percent.

I'm especially pleased with the result of RTW getting to the Governor's desk as I recently had the pleasure to speak at a rally held at the Missouri Capitol in support of Right to Work, in addition to discussing a wasteful subsidy to government employee unions.

Many people were involved in carrying RTW legislation this far. But I'd like to give a special shout out to Mary Hill, who worked tirelessly to put on the RTW rally, which featured Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinders and others, to educate Missourians on the benefits of RTW. Mary advocates for RTW all on her own free time because she cares strongly about worker freedom. People with her drive and conviction will lead Missouri to become a RTW state.

Obviously, it would be a heck of a lot easier for Mary to support RTW and put on events if her employer let her leave work to do so while paying her full salary, right? Of course it would, but that is not how things work in the private sector. Employers expect their employees to do the job they are paid to do. And that makes sense.

Unfortunately, in the public sector, opponents of RTW enjoy the above arrangement. The practice, known as union release time, allows government employees to perform union work including lobbying against RTW on government work time while paid by tax dollars instead of teaching or performing whatever civic duty they were hired to do. Worse, these arrangements are common in the public sector in Missouri and all over the country. For more on union release time in Missouri see, A Remedy for Taxpayer Giveaway to Unions: Time to Enforce Missouri Constitution’s Bar on Gifts to Private Parties.

Missouri citizens deserve better from their elected officials. Workers deserve the freedom to choose in the workplace. Tax dollars should be exclusively used for public purposes, not to support private organizations, like labor unions, who use the funds to hinder the passage of positive legislation.

Now the decision to give workers freedom rests with Gov. Nixon. Hopefully, he will listen to ordinary citizens and not the special interests of labor unions that only want to block RTW passage to maintain the special privileges of being able to compel workers to pay dues against their will.