Labor union leaders speak out against making Missouri a Right to Work State, saying it wouldn’t create jobs or increase revenue.
Voters said “no” to making Missouri a Right to Work state in 1978. Labor union leaders admit there are fewer union employees in the state casting votes now, and their numbers are down from 33 years ago. However, they say that makes it even more suspect that some Senate leaders are pushing the proposal instead of putting it to a vote of the people.
Representatives from Steelworkers, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Service Employers and the AFL-CIO say Right to Work states that are showing job growth are also offering huge incentives to corporations to locate there.
Clark Brown is a lobbyist for the Service Employers International Union, which has about 15,000 members in Missouri, both in the private and public sectors. He says it’s not included in the Chamber of Commerce six legislative priorities.
“I think that we all stand, organized and different aspects of labor, saying you see the business entities jumping up — they’ve got this “fix six” thing — they don’t even propose Right to Work, they’re not making that big claim that it’s an economic panacea for this state,” Brown says. “And the fact that we’ve got this senator jumping up and down saying it’s a priority for this state, I think it’s really a hidden agenda.”
Senator Rob Mayer of Dexter in Southeast Missouri is sponsoring Senate Bill 1, which would make Missouri a Right to Work state. The initiative has also been championed by Senator Jason Crowell, also of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau.
Reporters asked if perhaps it was a regional issue. Members of the AFL-CIO pointed out that a company looking at locating in Southeast Missouri changed its mind and set up in Blytheville, Ark., instead.
All of Missouri’s neighboring states are Right to Work except for Illinois and Kentucky.
Union leaders say now, approximately 10 to 20 percent of the work force are union members; in 1978 it was just over 30 percent.