Government & Politics

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes right-to-work legislation

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon The Kansas City Star

JEFFERSON CITY — Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a measure Thursday that would have made Missouri the 26th right-to-work state, and it’s unclear whether proponents will be able to muster enough support in the Republican-led Legislature to override the veto.

The governor, a longtime opponent of the effort, traveled to the Kansas City area to announce the veto among local United Auto Workers union members near the Ford assembly plant. The bill would have barred workplace contracts that require all employees– even those who aren’t union members – to pay union fees.

Most of the Missouri’s eight neighboring states already have right-to-work laws; the only two that don’t are Illinois and Kentucky. Republican legislators and governors in the Midwestern states Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin all enacted right-to-work laws in the past three years.

Supporters in Missouri say the legislation would attract businesses and spur economic growth, while critics argue it would weaken unions and lead to lower wages.

This year marks the first that Missouri legislators were able to foster enough support to send a bill to the governor, and it came at a cost. The Legislature effectively shut down the last week of session after some GOP senators forced a vote on the measure and Democrats in response filibustered for days.

Even with a record number of Republicans in the Missouri House and a near-record in the Senate, the bill’s original passage still fell short of the two-thirds majority vote that would be needed in both chambers to overturn Nixon’s veto. The GOP was split, with some members joining Democrats in opposition. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, the top Republican in that chamber, was among those who voted against right to work.

Legislators are to reconvene in September to consider overriding vetoes.

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