The House gave initial passage, or “perfected,” legislation alternately called “right to work” by supporters and “right to work for free” by opponents, and both sides are claiming victory.

The proposal would bar making the payment of union dues or fees a requisite for employment in private sector workplaces. If passed it would go to voters in August.

The proposal is a top priority of House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka).

The legislation received 78 “yes” votes, enough to secure “perfection” but not enough to send the bill to the Senate.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) issued a statement calling the vote a “failure.”

“Today a bipartisan coalition of legislators rejected Right to Work, marking a victory for Missouri working families and a setback for the out-of-state ideologues and special interests trying to attack them,” Gov. Nixon said.

Supporters of the policy are offering a different message. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (R)\ said on Twitter, “History made today in [the Missouri] General Assembly: Right to work bill wins first-round approval.”

Supporters could still find the remaining four votes needed to pass the bill on to the Senate. 11 legislators were absent for the vote and two voted “present.” 19 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal.

Click here to see how lawmakers voted on the proposal

Under current law workers can not be forced to join a union but labor unions must negotiate on behalf of all employees in a bargaining unit. Employees who aren’t in the union don’t have to pay dues but must pay fees to cover the cost of representation.

Opponents say the legislation would allow non-union members to be “freeloaders.” Supporters say forcing non-union workers to pay union fees is wrong, and say such laws make states more appealing to businesses and have in other states led to increases in employment numbers in both union and non-union workplaces.