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St. Louis Louis Local Control Foe on ‘Right to Work’

March 31st, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

By Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce drafted its wish list for big business prior to the 2011 legislative session – six items the Chamber said would make Missouri more competitive in the state’s efforts to attract jobs and industry. While it is highly questionable that reducing the minimum wage or making it harder for employees to sue for workplace discrimination will improve Missouri’s business climate, one thing is certain: the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry DID NOT include the onerous “Right to Work” provision in its original wish list. The “Right to Work” provision apparently was added only recently at the urging of national far right consultants in Washington, D.C., where this attack on workers is being coordinated and funded. There was good reason the Missouri Chamber originally opted not to include “Right to Work” in its wish list for big business: in 1978, an overwhelming majority of Missouri citizens defeated a “Right to Work” law after a bitter campaign.

Supporters of the various “Right to Work” bills percolating through the Missouri House and Senate claim that businesses will not consider locating in our state because we are not a “Right to Work” state, but they have been unable to name a single business that has refused to move here because of our employment laws. Supporters often point to “Right to Work” states in the deep South as examples of states with lower unemployment that have attracted new automotive manufacturing plants in recent years, but they fail to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives those states used to lure those new manufacturing plants. Study after study finds employees in “Right to Work” states earn less than employees in non “Right to Work” states and have fewer health and retirement benefits. Do we really want to join these southern states in a race to the bottom? It’s also important to note that not a single word was heard about “Right to Work” when Missouri lawmakers met in special session last summer to approve millions in tax credits and incentives designed to convince Ford to keep its manufacturing plant in Clay County.

The various “Right to Work” bills moving through the legislature would prevent employers and workers from negotiating contracts that include clauses requiring workers to pay union dues or equivalent fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining. Currently, workers at companies with unions can opt out and only pay the fee that covers collective bargaining negotiations and the administration of pension funds. If non-union workers are allowed to skip paying union dues or fees, they will still get the benefits of the union-negotiated contract without having to pay their fair share of the costs. “Right to Work” supporters argue their proposals do not prevent anyone from joining a union, and that statement is basically true; however, if employees at a union shop are no longer required to pay their fair share, many will choose not to pay because who doesn’t like getting something for free? In time, union membership would dwindle and the unions would become paper tigers with little or no ability to negotiate on behalf of workers. Ultimately, that’s what this whole “Right to Work” push is all about – destroying the ability of workers to collectively bargain for wages, health care benefits and retirement packages

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Tags: MO Legislature · St. Louis

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  • 1 DW // Mar 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “if employees at a union shop are no longer required to pay their fair share, many will choose not to pay because who doesn’t like getting something for free?”

    Your argument is flawed. Those who choose not to pay union dues have no claim to union benefits. This is fairness. The employee should be able to CHOOSE whether or not to join a union. If workers choose NOT to join a union, then it is because the union did not provide compelling enough benefits for the workers. Freedom is freedom… workers should have the right to CHOOSE.

  • 2 jh // Mar 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Unions originated from the employees, and they should stay with the employees, not with an organized “corporate” union. Unions have become as large if not larger than the companies they work for. The Employee Freedom Act means just that, freedom for the employee to decide if they want to be represented or not. An employer should not use a union to “extort” their employees, taking money and used for a purpose not agreed upon by the employees, telling the employees they must never communicate with anyone other than the union, and that they cannot start their own business without fear of losing their union pension. This kind of representation for employees is unAmerican, and the union bosses have become as crooked as the employers they fight against.

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