No individual should be forced to financially support an organization they disagree with or risk penalty. However, in Missouri and 24 other states, private sector workers can be compelled to pay union dues or lose their job. This is made possible by provisions in union contracts known as union security clauses. However, in the 25 states that have right to work (RTW) laws, workers have free choice on whether or not to join a union and pay dues.
Federal labor law dominates private-sector labor relations. However, states may enact right to work legislation (under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947) to give workers the freedom to refrain from financially supporting union representatives without the risk of termination if they feel the union is not representing their best interests. The Show-Me state could soon provide workers with this freedom—if enough of Missourians’ elected representatives step up to the plate.
In the past legislative session, the Missouri House and Senate passed a right to work bill, but on June 4, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the legislation at the behest of union bosses. When he made his announcement, Governor Nixon was surrounded by members of the United Auto Workers union, which donated $50,000 to his campaign less than a week after the veto—even though the Governor is term-limited and has committed not to run for office again. Moreover, Nixon’s campaign coffers were full, with over $16 million through 2012, so it was not to pay off debt. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder described the union donation and the Governor’s acceptance of it as “pay to play politics.”
Governor Nixon, in his veto announcement, trotted out union talking points about RTW, claiming: “This extreme measure would take our state backward, squeeze the middle-class, lower wages for Missouri families.” Yet, as experience in RTW states indicates, the legislation’s impact on Missouri would be the opposite of what the Governor claims. Expanding worker choice is far from extreme, research shows that RTW is economically advantageous, and polling shows the public widely supports the policy.