Missouri voters reject anti-union law

Attempt by Republicans to make Missouri a right to work state was defeated by a two to one margin. Even many Republican voters weren’t prepared to support restricting workers’ rights.

Ottawa (08 Aug. 2018) — Last night voters in the US state of Missouri delivered a crushing blow to those trying to restrict workers’ rights in that state. An attempt by Republicans to make Missouri a right to work state was defeated by a two to one margin. Even many Republican voters weren’t prepared to support restricting workers’ rights.

Right to work laws make it easier to drive down wages

As a National Union backgrounder explains, right to work laws are intended to make it easier for employers to drive down wages and benefits by weakening unions. These laws allow people to receive all the benefits of belonging to a union without having to pay their fair share for it.

Under right to work laws, unions are still legally required to represent people who don’t pay dues. People who refuse to pay due get all the benefits of the collective agreement – even though they didn’t help pay the costs or do the work required obtain it. There are many words for this – one of the more polite is freeloading.

Large corporations funding push for right to work across the US

It is not a coincidence that several US states have adopted right to work laws. Lobby groups funded by some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the US have been pressuring state legislatures to adopt right to work legislation. These groups even write the legislation that conservative politicians introduce.

Right to work increases income inequality

Like other laws attacking unions, right to work increases income inequality. The middle-class incomes and life that so many people in the US and Canada were able to enjoy were because of gains made by the union movement in the 1930s and 1940s. As this video produced by the Missouri AFL-CIO (their state federation of labour) makes clear, right to work and other similar laws make it easier to reverse those gains and take us back to a time when most workers had to struggle just to survive.

Right to work a potential threat in Canada

In the last decade politicians in two provinces have proposed introducing right to work laws in Canada. While the labour movement successfully fought those proposals, the fact some very wealthy interests benefit from right to work means they remains a threat.

Missouri vote shows how public really feels about right to work

What makes the Missouri vote significant is that it is the first time there has been a referendum on right to work. Missouri Republicans did what they could to discourage participation – including moving the referendum from the normal election day in November to the middle of the summer. But in spite of this, 67% of Missouri residents voted against right to work.