Hundreds of union workers showed up at the capitol Monday to oppose a so-called “Right to Work” bill that is expected to move quickly in this final week of the legislative session.
Testimony was emotional for some, including for Terry Nelson with the Carpenters District Council in the St. Louis region. He said government is trying to turn their contractors into adversaries.
“I live and die with them every day,” said Nelson. “If you take the opportunity away from me and my union to negotiate reasonable living wage plus benefits, I say shame on you!”
Nelson said it’s not the government’s responsibility to get involved in their business relationships. “Do not put shackles on the arms of the unions by not allowing us to do what we do best, and that’s to have a partnership with the people that we survive with.”
Other union workers also argued that the bill would mean lower wages. House bill sponsor Eric Burlison (R-Springfield) argued that’s not true.
“Opposition will say that people make less money in states that provide ‘right to work,’” said Burlison. “The truth is, we’ve always made less money.”
Burlison said Missouri must become a “Right to Work” state if it is going to regain a competitive standing in the United States and globally.
“It will encourage job growth, make unions stronger for their members and promote individual freedom for workers across our great state,” argued Burlison.
The bill would bar the collection of fees from non-union members.
The House passed Burlison’s right to work proposal earlier this session. The Senate is expected to take up the issue Tuesday.