The Missouri House has given initial approval to two so-called “right to work” proposals. One would bar the collection by unions of dues from non-union workers, another would extend the same prohibition only in the construction industry.
Opponents say such prohibitions allow non-union workers to enjoy the benefits of union representation without paying for it, and say it would weaken unions and cause wages to decrease.
Some dismiss the latter bill, sponsored by Representative Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley), as not constitutional because it would treat the workers in the construction industry differently from those in others.
Curtis said his legislation was meant to get construction trade unions to better represent minorities and women and enable them to get better jobs.
“Given that the building trades haven’t been able to institute equality on their own, this is providing them more of a push: a push off the edge actually,” said Curtis. “What this will do is starve them of the resources that they need to pay themselves the handsome salaries that they have and it will force them to provide customer service to their members, given that not everybody will have to pay money to them … they’ll actually have to go to the minorities and say, ‘Hey, what can we do to keep you inside and to keep you paying those dues?'”
Right-to-work legislation received first-round approval in the House last year but fell short of the number of votes needed for a constitutional majority. Wednesday the bill sponsored by Representative Eric Burlison (R-Springfield) was adopted with 92 votes in favor: 10 more than is necessary to pass it out of the chamber.
“That’s a great total,” said Burlison.
Burlison, who also sponsored the bill last year, says the greater vote total this year was due to supporters feeling emboldened.
“Last year what we saw was that with an issue like that being the first time through and being such a bold issue, this issue is always wrapped up in fear and the opposition uses fear and sometimes intimidation unfortunately for their side,” Burlison told Missourinet. “What I think we saw is that those people who voted for it last time, at the end of the day the world didn’t end and what we were able to see is that people, when you really break down the issue, they know it’s the right decision for Missouri.
House Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country) confirms the chamber will vote Thursday on whether to send the bill to the Senate.
Supporters would need 109 votes in the House, however, to overturn a veto by Governor Jay Nixon (D) if the legislation would reach that point. Nixon told reporters Wednesday he did not know what specific language is in the House bill but added, “I haven’t seen a right-to-work bill I would ever sign.”