JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Republicans used their large majorities to send a “right-to-work” measure to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday but appear to lack the support to override an expected veto.
The Missouri House gave final approval to the bill that would prohibit workplace contracts that require union fees to be collected from nonmembers. Republican-controlled Legislatures have successfully passed right-to-work measures in three other states in recent years, with Wisconsin becoming the 25th right-to-work state earlier this year.
Missouri’s legislation passed with less than the two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate that would be needed to override a veto from Nixon, who has said he opposes right-to-work bills. Although Republicans hold supermajorities, some Republicans have joined Democrats in opposing the bill.
Supporters say the legislation would attract more businesses to the state and spur economic growth, while opponents assert that it would undermine unions and lead to lower wages. Reviews of research into the economic effects of right-to-work laws have generally concluded that it is difficult to isolate that provision from other policies and preferences in the state.
Proponents of the measure also say that workers should not be forced to pay fees for representation if they do not want to be members of the union.
“It’s not just about people receiving higher salaries or providing job growth, it’s about giving individuals freedom,” said bill sponsor Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals can opt out of membership dues but the union may still collect fees for services such as negotiating contracts that cover both members and nonmembers.
Opponents say unions would likely end up representing people who did not pay any fees under a right-to-work law, creating a free-rider problem, and weakening the strength of unions.