The Missouri legislature has proposed making the state a so-called “right to work” state.

Representative Eric Burlison carried the 'right to work' bill in the state House.  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Eric Burlison carried the ‘right to work’ bill in the state House. (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The state House and Senate have proposed barring contracts that would require the payment of union dues by non-union members. The bill would make anyone who violates its provisions guilty of a crime carrying up to 15-days in jail and a $300 fine, and subject to civil lawsuits.

House Democrat Leader Jacob Hummel (D-St. Louis) says that provision goes against Republicans’ stated principles.

“The amendment that was offered makes it a crime for businesses to operate in a manner in which they so choose,” said Hummel.

House sponsor Eric Burlison (R-Springfield) says “right to work” would make Missouri competitive with neighboring states for jobs.

“This important legislation will, in no doubt, encourage job growth, help unions become stronger for their members, and promote individual freedom for those across our great state,” said Burlison.

Representative Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills) says the bill would let non-union workers enjoy the benefit of union membership without paying for it.

“You have individuals who want to be able to freeload. Freeload, suck up the gravy, eat the biscuit, eat a piece of the bologna sandwich, but then they don’t want to do anything to make sure they have those benefits,” said Smith.

Clem Smith 05-13-2015

Representative Clem Smith opposed the “right to work” bill. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The House passed the bill on the day after Republican leadership in the Senate forced a vote on it by using a rarely employed procedural move to cut off a more than 8-hour Democrat filibuster. Democrats in that chamber have responded by vowing to interfere with any efforts to advance any legislation in that chamber, leaving in question whether anything that still requires Senate passage can be accomplished before the session ends Friday at 6 p.m.

The bill goes to Governor Jay Nixon (D), who is expected to veto it. Neither chamber passed it with enough votes to overturn that veto.

In a statement released by his office, Nixon said, “Attacking workers and weakening the middle class will not create jobs. In fact, rolling back the rights of working people would weaken our economy by lowering wages and making it harder for middle class families to move up the economic ladder.”

Nixon also decried the criminal provision of the bill, that he wrote, “would stifle growth and discourage investment in our state.”

“At at a time when our economy is picking up steam and businesses are creating jobs, this so-called right to work bill would take Missouri backwards,” wrote Nixon.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants Nixon to sign that bill into law.

“This means more jobs and opportunities for our state, plain and simple,” said Chamber President at CEO Dan Mehan.