An eastern Missouri union leader who opposes right-to-work legislation says Missourians wanted less government when they voted for Republicans in the general election.

Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City

Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports a right-to-work proposal, but Ballwin-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 President David Cook says “corporate Missouri” does not.

“I don’t understand the necessity of the Republican Legislature to force a mandate like this down corporate Missouri’s agenda. It’s not corporate Missouri’s agenda, it’s a few people in Missouri that want this,” says Cook.

Cook describes right-to-work laws as government interfering “with the parameters and the business of companies, employees and their unions.”

“So if a company, its employees and its union all say ‘we want to have a union security clause’, the Missouri state government is going to say ‘no, we’re not going to allow that.’ That’s not, generally speaking, the Republican motto,” says Cook.

UFCW Local 655 represents eastern Missouri workers in grocery stores, manufacturing, packing houses and distribution centers, primarily in the St. Louis area.

Cook also tells Missourinet a right-to-work law would “drive down the wages” of middle class workers, citing Oklahoma as an example.

Right-to-work says that a person cannot be required to join or refrain from joining a labor organization, as a condition of employment.

Right-to-work supporters like State Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) disagree with Cook.

Rehder, who filed House Bill 91 last week, tells Missourinet that Indiana added more than 50,000 “good-paying union jobs” after that state passed right-to-work in 2012.

Rehder predicts union and non-union jobs will increase in Missouri, if her right-to-work legislation passes. She chairs the Missouri House Select Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.

Cook says union membership in Oklahoma “has stayed stagnant or dropped”, after that state passed a right-to-work law.

Rehder is urging union members to study the issue closely.

“Search outside of the talking points that they’re being given by their union steward. They need to look into these other states that have passed right-to-work,” says Rehder.

She notes 26 other states have already passed similar measures.