Right-to-work likely to pass with Republican-dominated government

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COLUMBIA - Governor-elect Eric Greitens and other Republicans who won political offices in Missouri are now awaiting the chance to pass right-to-work legislation.

Previously, Republicans could not override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto against right-to-work legislation. Now, it is likely that right-to-work will pass.

“We’re quite optimistic about that," Steve Spellman, treasurer of the Boone County Republican Central Committee, said. "Now the new governor-elect, Eric Greitens, has said that’s going to be a priority for him, so we expect that to be a push come legislative session in January.”

Right-to-work would force unions to extend benefits to non-union members. Currently, unions do not have to give benefits to workers who do not pay dues.

Don Bruemmer is the business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, in Jefferson City. He said right-to-work would hurt labor unions.

“It affects the whole general public. It lowers the average hourly wage of all people in the state of Missouri,” Bruemmer said.

Bruemmer said states that have right-to-work legislation, like Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, have lower hourly wages. 

Spellman said whether a state has right-to-work legislation can discourage companies from relocating in Missouri.

"When they look at Missouri, and they see we’re not a right-to-work state, we’ve heard that many companies just cross Missouri off their list and they don’t have a chance of coming here to our state to create jobs,” Spellman said.

Bruemmer said the opposite is true. 

"I don't feel the right-to-work legislation will help the jobs coming in to the state of Missouri at all because companies like Harley Davidson in Kansas City, the Ford plant in Kansas City, other plants that come here, they don't ask if it's a right-to-work state or not. It's usually the tax incentives they get to build their plant here," Bruemmer said. "Plus, companies are after the good work ethics that the Midwest provides."

Spellman addressed accusations that right-to-work could be bad for labor unions.

“It’s not a ripoff, it’s not going to end unions, it’s not anti-union. It’s for workers to have a choice of joining a union, or not joining a union, but still be able to work in the state of Missouri," Spellman said.