The controversial issue of right-to-work mainly fell along party lines during Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ (R) State of the State Address on Tuesday night in Jefferson City.
Right-to-work says that a person cannot be required to join or refrain from joining a labor organization, as a condition of employment.
State Rep. Chuck Basye (R-Rocheport) is praising Governor Greitens’ call for the Legislature to pass right-to-work. Basye says right-to-work is critical for jobs and economic development.
“Especially, and he (Greitens) mentioned it, in the Bootheel of Missouri I know there’s a lot of people that travel across the borders to work, and some of them can’t find work,” says Basye. “So I think it would be a great thing for Missouri.”
However, State Rep. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) tells Missourinet that the majority of Republicans have used right-to-work as a “silver bullet” and interchanged it with economic development.
“I disagree. When I knock on people’s doors, they care about education, they care about roads,” Arthur says. “No one (constituents) brings up right-to-work, unless it’s a union employee who really hopes that I will defend their right to join a union and defeat right-to-work.”
Greitens says 27 other states have passed it.
In addition to calling on Missouri lawmakers to pass right-to-work, Greitens also urges the Legislature to eliminate project labor agreements and to repeal Missouri’s version of the Davis-Bacon Act. Davis-Bacon involves the prevailing wage. State Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R-Carrollton) supports Greitens’ call.
“He (Greitens) went beyond right-to-work,” McGaugh says. “He talked about prevailing wage, he talked about project labor agreements, and I think there’s just a lot of reform we can do in those areas.”
McGaugh tells Missourinet prevailing wage laws hurt rural communities in his northwest Missouri district.
State Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) is sponsoring right-to-work. State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis) says right-to-work should be placed on the statewide ballot.
“We have Republicans that don’t agree with right-to-work,” says Franks. “So, you put it to the vote. You let the people choose, because all due respect to Representative Holly Rehder, you know, a very smart woman and there are some issues that we agree on. But, she hasn’t come and talked to my district about right-to-work.”
Franks, who represents a large part of St. Louis City in the House, says the St. Louis area is still heavily union.
Missourians rejected a right-to-work ballot measure in 1978.
One area where the two parties seem to agree on is the need for tax credit reform.
Greitens’ call for a thorough audit of Missouri’s tax credit system gets a thumbs-up from McGaugh.
“I liked what he said, you know he’s not like going to slash it across the board, but he’s going to go out there and get more information and that’s really the only thing we can all do is make the decisions based on the best information, and I appreciate his approach to that,” says McGaugh.
Arthur thinks there can be “common ground” with the Republican Governor on tax credit reform. Greitens told lawmakers that “insiders are gaming” the tax credit system.
State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights) has pushed for tax credit reform as well.