Missouri voters have spoken on right-to-work law. Why do Republicans want a do-over?

Union members cheer rejection of right-to-work law

Missouri voters rejected a right-to-work law Tuesday.
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Missouri voters rejected a right-to-work law Tuesday.

Some Republicans won’t give up.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently approved a handful of initiative petitions for circulation. Among them: a proposal for a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee Missourians the right to work without joining a union or paying dues to one.

That should sound familiar. Just last year, Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea, better known as right to work.

Apparently, that hasn’t stopped the debate. Just a few months after voters spoke clearly on this issue, Todd Graves, the former chairman of the Missouri GOP, asked a Republican party official to file a right-to-work petition. If enough voters sign it, Missouri will go through another right-to-work argument in 2020, when the issue would go on the ballot.

For what? Surely not to protect the state’s workers. More than 300,000 voters signed petitions to force a vote on right-to-work legislation in 2018. Despite last-minute manipulation of the ballot by state legislators, voters rejected right to work by a two-to-one margin.

We know what Missourians think of right to work. It’s an effort to break unions and pay workers lower wages.

Missourians who are paid by the hour saw through these shenanigans once. They no doubt will see the new petition for what it is: another attempt to put money in the pockets of wealthy business interests at the expense of wage earners and employees.

Let’s also pause for a moment to contemplate the rich irony here. Right now, in Jefferson City, some Republicans are trying eviscerate the petition process by making it harder to get enough signatures to amend the state’s constitution. Another measure would require more votes at the polls to amend that document.

“It’s essentially just a defense of the sacredness of the constitution and wanting us to make sure that any changes represent the overwhelming will of the Missouri voters,” House Speaker Elijah Haahr has said.

Apparently, the constitution isn’t too sacred. Graves now wants to use the very petition process Haahr and his friends are trying to restrict.

The danger of embedding right to work in the constitution is real. The remedy, though, is easy: Don’t sign the petition. It will take more than 160,000 valid signatures to put the plan on the ballot; if enough voters ignore the petition drive, a right-to-work amendment can’t go forward.

Missourians have the right to vote on important issues. In this case, their votes were cast just a few months ago. The state doesn’t need another messy, expensive debate on right to work anytime soon.