by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – It’s the center of the most controversy so far in the 2014 Missouri Legislative Session and if lawmakers don’t decide the issue at the Capitol, you might have to at the ballot booth.
The so-called “Right To Work” proposal is being promoted as a way to make Missouri more competitive economically. Supporters say it’s also a way for workers to be protected from being force to join a union in order to have a job.
Americans For Prosperity’s Missouri State Director, Patrick Werner, is among those leading the charge for the change.
“For us, it’s sort of a liberty issue. It’s a choice issue. It’s a case where if you want to go into a business or if you want to take a job at a certain company that has a union shop there, you have a choice that if you want to join it, great. But if you don’t want to, you shouldn’t have to or you shouldn’t be forced into paying dues.”
To opponents, including Missouri Jobs With Justice, it’s anti-worker. Rev, Martin Rafanan is part of a key MOJWJ committee that deal with the issue.
While both sides agree there will be a limiting impact on unions if the law were passed, they disagree on whether that’s good for workers and Missouri’s economy.
Opponents say the bill is a way to write union-busting into law and prevent workers from organizing. Werner says the only change is that unions will have to compete for membership instead of forcing workers to join or pay dues as part of an employment condition. In other words, unions would still be free to organize, operate and collectively bargain but they would have to demonstrate a clear value to get their coworkers to sign up and pay the dues.
Werner calls that a “liberty centric” approach.
Rafanan doesn’t buy into that argument, calling it a matter of fairness. He argues that even non-union employees benefit from the pay scales, benefit packages and workplace conditions negotiated by unions, so they should be required to pay for the results of collective bargaining.
“When you are actually protected, you need to pay for those services. So, that’s nothing more than paying for something you are already receiving.”
The idea is being debated in the State House at this point, where Republicans have more than enough votes to move some form of “Right To Work” forward. While Republicans hold a controlling majority in the Senate, the outcome of the debate is less clear in that chamber.
Governor Nixon is expected to veto a “Right To Work” bill should it come to his desk. As a result some supporters of the idea want to bypass the Governor altogether and are pushing for lawmakers to place the idea on the ballot for later this year.
On the web:
House Bill 1053: http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB1053&year=2014&code=R
House Joint Resolution 44: http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HJR44&year=2014&code=R
Americans For Prosperity-Missouri: www.MOAFP.org
Missouri Jobs With Justice: www.MOJWJ.org