Debate over right-to-work continues after Senate approves bill

3 years 2 months 1 week ago Thursday, January 26 2017 Jan 26, 2017 Thursday, January 26, 2017 7:59:00 PM CST January 26, 2017 in News
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - After years of fighting and an historic gubernatorial election, right-to-work may have overcome its largest hurdle on the road to becoming a law. On Thursday, Missouri state senators voted 21-12 in favor of right-to-work, sending the bill to the House, which has already passed a similar bill. 

Right-to-work would make it so workers in Missouri would no longer be required to pay union dues. Mike Louis, the president of Missouri branch of the American Federation of Labor, said he believes Missouri lawmakers are choosing to help corporations, while knowingly hurting Missouri workers. 

"Corporate billionaires, fat rats, want to take away the people's voices, and this is one way to start doing that," Louis said.

One of the bill's biggest advocates, Senator Bob Onder (R-St. Charles), disagrees with Louis. He said he thinks the way the law stands is limiting Missouri workers and preventing the state's economy from growing.

"Nobody should be fired because of refusal to join or pay dues to a union. Secondly, the opportunity for economic growth is just incredible," Onder said.

Onder said it's the union bosses who are looking out for themselves at the cost of Missouri workers. 

"The reason that union bosses are opposing right-to-work is that it's reducing their power," Onder said. "If they have to sell themselves to their workers, it will be less time for playing political power broker." 

Louis said this type of legislation is not what Missouri voters had in mind when they overhauled the government in November. He insists that, if it were to go to a vote of the people, right-to-work would not pass. 

"It's true that people voted for change here in Missouri. They voted for an outsider as governor, they voted for a few new senators who have never been in government before," Louis said. "I think they're going to find out that this is not what the people wanted." 

The bill now goes to the House and should be voted on next week. In years past, the bill either died on the floor of the Senate, or was vetoed by the governor. Governor Greitens has said publicly he is in favor of right-to-work and isn't likely to exercise a veto. 

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