Fierce debate over right-to-work legislation in state capitol

7 months 1 week 1 day ago Tuesday, January 10 2017 Jan 10, 2017 Tuesday, January 10, 2017 12:45:00 PM CST January 10, 2017 in News
By: Meg Hilling, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - Tensions were running high in Jefferson City following testimonies both for and against right-to-work legislation Tuesday afternoon.

Standing in front of the Missouri House Economic Development Committee, state representatives, union workers and business owners argued over the hotly debated topic.

Former Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the egislation just a few short months ago and now Republicans are working to pass legislation allowing workers to decline joining a union while still keeping their job.

The big difference now is instead of Nixon, a Democrat, in the governor's office, it's Eric Greitens, a Republican who said last year he supports right-to-work legislation.

There are five bills regarding right-to-work under review at the moment. 

While both supporters and opponents of the legislation were present during the hearing, arguments in favor of right-to-work dominated the conversation.

Many of the state representatives in favor the legislation who spoke during the hearing, such as Rep. Bill Lant (R-Pineville), leaned heavily upon job growth and loss comparisons between states to argue their stance.

Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Raymore), also in support of the legislation, made his case on the aspect of freedom for workers to choose what they want to do.

"To me the numbers aren't nearly as relevant as the freedom aspect. Because that is exactly what the men and women of our nation have fought and died for," Brattin said.

But while support of the legislation was strong in the room, those against did manage to voice their stance as well.

David Cook, President of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655, a union group in St. Louis said the pro right-to-work direction many state politicians are leaning is concerning, citing that the legislation would increase government intervention in business and would be going against the will of many workers.

"It's pretty evident they are not going to listen to the will of the people. And the will of the people is for less government, not more government," Cooks said. "And clearly this bill, this law, is going to mandate a decision between the employers, and their workers and the union, and say you cannot agree to something. I'm not thinking that's why my members that vote republican, voted for these republicans. They voted to get government out of the way of business."

But not every state politician in the room was in favor of the Right-to-Work legislation. Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) called right to work legislation "right to freeload," while questioning Bill Lant (R-Pineville) on the legislation.

 

 

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