Missouri voters rejected right to work — loudly. The General Assembly should listen

Proposition A on Missouri’s primary election ballot explained

This video explains what voting "yes" or "no" means for Proposition A on Missouri's primary election ballot.
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This video explains what voting "yes" or "no" means for Proposition A on Missouri's primary election ballot.

Missouri lawmakers have started filing bills for the 2019 session. The list includes the usual grab-bag of technical changes, special-interest legislation, and pet causes of legislators in the state House and Senate.

Some have merit, and will likely reach the finish line in one form or another. There’s a sports wagering bill. Sen. Lauren Arthur wants no-excuse absentee voting in Missouri, a change long overdue. One pre-filed bill would expand Medicaid in the state.

Other pre-filed bills, on the other hand, should die quickly. Incoming Republican Sen. Eric Burlison has introduced a new right-to-work bill, one that would prohibit making membership in a labor organization a condition of employment.

Wait. Didn’t Missouri just go through this?

Yes. Yes it did.

Republican lawmakers rammed through a right-to-work bill last year, then watched as a coalition of groups gathered enough referendum signatures to force a statewide vote on the issue. To virtually no one’s surprise, those voters overwhelmingly rejected the right-to-work Proposition A, by a better than two-to-one margin, in August.

Burlison apparently feels he knows better than nearly 940,000 Missouri voters. “Democracy is not freedom,” he told The Star in a text message.

Well, yes. Some rights — civil rights are a good example — are inalienable. But the right to a job with union benefits, without paying a fair share of the cost of negotiating those benefits, isn’t one of them.

And Burlison’s hubris in overturning the clear will of the voters is concerning. If the voters’ decision can be easily tossed aside, why have a petition process at all?

Sadly, the senator-elect’s anti-voter attitude is becoming more common in his Republican party. Lawmakers in Wisconsin and Michigan are now gleefully grabbing power from incoming gubernatorial Democrats, as if the voters’ voices are immaterial. They should cut it out.

Democracy isn’t freedom, perhaps, but freedom is impossible without democracy. The voters have spoken on right-to-work in Missouri, and their votes should be respected.