Right-to-work affects Missouri workers and businesses

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JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri AFL-CIO and other organizations have filed a petition to put the new right-to-work law, signed by Gov. Eric Greitens, on the ballot.

The Missouri Constitution allows for a "citizens veto," which requires signatures from 5 percent of the population of six of Missouri's eight congressional districts, or around 90,000 signatures, to put newly enacted laws on the ballot.

If the required number of signatures were reached, right-to-work would not go into effect until after the 2018 vote.

The deadline to collect signatures is Aug. 28, the same day the law is scheduled to go into effect.

Right-to-work, which the has been discussed in the state legislature issue for more than a decade, will allow Missourians the option to decline to pay union dues without facing the risk of termination. Currently employees who choose not to join the union still must pay reduced union dues. The new law would no longer force those employees to pay any dues to the union.

Missouri AFL-CIO President Michael Louis said, "They don't even have to pay for representation and to get the same benefits of the union contract as the employees who pay dues get. And the union is obligated by federal law to represent those employees just the exact same as they do the employees who choose to pay dues."

Louis said the AFL-CIO is concerned about the impact the new law will have on wages and working condition.

"It drives wages down, not only for the union workers but for all workers," Louis said.

He said right-to-work will leave the union with fewer resources to adequately represent and negotiate on behalf of its members.

The president of the Associated Industries of Missouri, Ray McCarty, said, right to work is a victory for the business community and will give Missouri workers more freedom and create jobs.

"Enacting right-to-work in the state of Missouri allows us to compete for jobs that otherwise we would not be able to compete for," McCarty said.

He said unions will now have to work hard to represent their workers, which can improve conditions for Missourians.

"To union workers, I'd say 'this bill gives you more power because it makes the union work and earn your membership dollars,'" McCarty said.