The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday approved a right-to-work bill [materials] by a vote of 91-64. The bill will now be sent to the Missouri Senate [official website], where it could face a filibuster. Even if the bill is approved by the Senate, Governor Jay Nixon is expected to veto it. The bill allows workers who choose not to join a labor union to avoid paying dues, fees, assessments or other charges to a labor organization. Although the bill failed last year, supporters [Kansas City Star report] remain optimistic that the bill will pass this year. Even with these obstacles, the bill may still pass if both chambers override the expected veto from the Democratic governor with a two-thirds vote. Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, stated:
A right-to-work law would cause unions to lose members and, in turn, some of their negotiating power. I do not expect the right-to-work bill to become law this session. The workers who belong to the unions would suffer and that would bleed over to the middle-class workers who are not represented by unions.
After Thursday’s vote, in which 23 Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill, passage of the bill this year appears unlikely.
Missouri is only the latest state to take up the issue. There are currently 24 states [NCSL report] that have passed right-to-work laws [JURIST backgrounder]. In November the Indiana Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the state’s right-to-work law, stating it did not violate the state’s constitution. In August 2013 the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled [JURIST report] that Michigan’s right-to-work law applies to civil service employees. JURIST Guest Columnist Karla Swift of the Michigan State AFL-CIO argued [JURIST op-ed] the right-to-work laws enacted by the Michigan Legislature in 2012 are unconstitutional and were enacted in violation of Michigan’s Open Meeting Act [text].