In 2017 Missouri became the 28th Right to Work State.
Right to work ends forced unionism and lets workers decide whether joining a union best serves their interests.
Right to work allows more companies to do business in Missouri.
But the unions want to overturn the Missouri Right to Work laws — they want the forced dues from Missouri workers.
Voters in Missouri will vote on Right to Work on August 7th.
Guest post by Former Missouri State Senator John Loudon
20 years ago, I was a young state lawmaker constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my state when I found myself seated next to a state economic development bureaucrat at a conference and seized the opportunity to challenge my assumptions.
I wondered whether the changes I was seeking to help my state matched her expertise. As our Democrat Governor had appointed her boss, a former Democrat lawmaker, I was stunned by her answer to my question, “What is the number one thing I can do to help you attract more businesses to Missouri?”
Her response, “Right to work. Hands down. Nothing else comes even close.”
She reported that fully 50% of the inquiries our economic development office receives from businesses considering relocating to Missouri eliminate any state that is not right to work. Her testimony was so powerful because she made it at her own peril, should I quote her or betray her confidence. Democrat politicians who challenge labor unions become former politicians. Her utter lack of hesitation told me she was so frustrated by being charge with helping her state while being hamstrung and wanted to tell someone who would listen.
Anyone whose job is recruiting businesses for a state knows these facts. Sadly, labor leaders desperate to hold power and confuse voters. They have even enlisted former St. Louisan, John Goodman to say the right to work (to take a job without being forced to join a union) is “about corporate greed” and “gives big business and out-of-state corporations the right to pay you less than they do now.”
Goodman is lying.
There is zero provision in the right to work law regarding pay. In fact, someone paying dues to a union can choose to quit paying dues and give him or herself a pay raise!
Out of state corporations have zero benefit unless they become IN STATE corporations.
The other lie is that the right to work is somehow anti-union. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the first two years after Indiana became an RTW state, union membership rose by over 57,000 members.
The biggest beneficiaries of right to work is not the business, or even the taxpayer, but the union member who gains the power to choose a good union and reject a bad one. As Indiana shows, good unions that stepped up their game and provided service valued by their members grew.
I was once hired to work as an usher in St. Louis sports and entertainment venues and then surprised when the owner told me I had to join the union to work. If I did not join I could not work.
Was the union good, bad, mediocre? How would I know? I never heard from the union, they just took my dues. The only change with a right to work law is that the union I never voted for would have to ask me before taking my dues. Most of us prefer to be asked before anyone takes something from us.
Right to work is a compromise.
Before 1935, the courts held this crazy notion that the Constitution protected individual liberty to contract, including workers to contract with employers. This frustrated labor unions which pushed for the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
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The “Wagner Act” empowered unions with monopoly bargaining rights and dues from all workers in a workplace, or “shop”. It also took from state lawmakers, most control of labor unions. Any union, once voted in by a simple majority, had federally guaranteed power to require union membership as a condition of employment (the definition of a “closed shop”).
Voters responded by giving solid control of Congress to Republicans and the conservative darling, Senate leader Bob Taft. Rather than repealing the Wagner Act, they passed the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a package of Wagner Act reforms.
The grand compromise of Taft-Hartley was to allow closed shops to exist while giving state voters the right to change their laws and ban them-the right to work.
Right to work laws are simply an assertion of state rights to return the pre-Wagner right of every worker to work without being forced to join a union and pay dues. 28 states have returned individual liberty to workers.
The Supreme Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME decision was essentially right to work for public sector or “government” workers who now have the power to “opt in” to joining unions. Workers are out of the union unless “opting in”. Janus did not ban unions or restrict them in any way other than requiring them to get permission of workers before taking their dues.
Janus was silent on private sector workers but voters in Missouri (election August 7th) can leave the ranks of the forced union states and exercise their Taft-Hartley rights to give all workers the same power as government workers, to opt into a union before they can take your dues.
Looking past John Goodman’s patent dishonesty about the right to work being a ploy by “out of state” corporate boogeymen or being anti-union or anti-pay, right to work simply returns the liberty of every worker to “opt in” to a union and work a job without being forced to join a union. RTW restores for private sector workers the same power Janus gave public sector workers to not be forced to pay for a union that may not represent his or her workplace or political views. No John Goodman, there is nothing “deceiving” about restoring liberty, the right to work without being forced to join a union for which one most likely never even voted.
John Loudon is a public affairs expert and former Missouri state senator now living in West Palm Beach Florida.