Senate hears bills on right-to-work and prevailing wage laws

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JEFFERSON CITY- Two measures that could significantly impact Missouri workers were on the agenda Wednesday at the Capitol. The Senate's General Laws Committee discussed bills on right-to-work and prevailing wage.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, who chairs the commitee, said it’s time for Missouri to become a right-to-work state so workers can’t be forced to join unions to get a job. 

However, Ron Berry, representing the American Federation of Teachers of Missouri, which opposes the measure, said Onder's argument doesn't hold water.

“First of all, I’d like to clarify that none of our members are forced to join any kind of association or organization,” he said.

Onder said the states surrounding Missouri, except Illinois, are right-to-work states. He said, in the last 10 years, states that have passed right-to-work have vastly outstripped Missouri of its job, economic and wage growth.

“Right-to-work would give Missourians the economic opportunities, the jobs and the wage growth that they really deserve,” Onder said.

The committee also heard a bill on prevailing wage laws.

Onder said prevailing wage laws force tax payers of school districts, cities and counties to overpay for public construction projects.

“It’s not letting local contractors get a fair shot at the projects being built with their own tax money,” Onder said.

Opponents have said prevailing wage laws wouldn't be needed if companies weren't so greedy.

Onder said he expects both bills to get voted on next week.

If right-to-work gets approved, it would appear on voters' ballots in November. Onder said Gov. Eric Greitens could decide to move that up to August.