November 29, 2010 10:30 AM

A statement by Senate leader Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) about his priorities in the Missouri Senate has placed Right to Work legislation again in the state spotlight, and rightly so.  Right to Work legislation is a true economic engine and job creator.

Presently, the 1935 National Labor Relations Act says that if union organizers win a representation election by 50% plus one of those voting, they are empowered to negotiate contracts on behalf of all 100% of the workers.  Once union organizers meet this standard they demand a contract which requires all of the workers to pay full union dues.  Missouri policies authorize termination of workers for refusal to pay dues.

Right to Work advocates believe it is morally wrong to force a worker to pay money to a labor union in order to get or hold a job.  It is equally wrong to force a worker to pay money to a labor union that supports political parties, ideas or strikes they don’t support.  

Thankfully, the Taft-Hartley Act enacted in 1947 allows individual states to outlaw the closed union shops and replace them with open unions.  Twenty-two states, including six of the eight states that border Missouri, have passed Right to Work laws, disallowing union bosses to demand the firing of an employee who refuses to join or pay dues. 

States that have adopted Right to Work laws are attractive places for workers.  According to the US Census, from July 1, 2008 through July 1, 2009 a net total of more than 339,000 Americans have moved to what they believe will be a better economic future for themselves in these 22 states.  Since April 1, 2000 there has been a net transfer of nearly five million Americans to Right to Work states. Workers are fleeing forced union states. 

Likewise, Missourians ought to have the right to support unions without being compelled to do so.

Where workers are forced to pay union dues, union bosses use their power to bank-roll regulation-happy state legislators and governors.  As a result, the economies of forced-dues states continue to fall behind.

Businesses are increasingly considering Right to Work as a key competitive criterion when considering sites for new growth and investment.  Almost three-fifths (69.5%) of business executives specify Right to Work as a very important or important factor in site selection according to the annual corporate survey published by Area Development Magazine.

In December 2009, Right to Work states had a lower unemployment rate than states with forced-union laws.  Also, the six states in the nation with the lowest unemployment rates were all Right to Work.   The US Department of Labor shows that from 2003 to 2008, jobs in Right to Work states grew at 9.1%--2.5 times faster than the rate in forced-union states.

Since 2007 all of Missouri's bordering Right to Work states (Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee) have enjoyed a higher percent increase in personal income than Missouri.

Oklahoma was the 22nd state to enact Right to Work laws in 2001--and the most recent.  Census data confirm that, after years of below-average growth, Oklahoma has become an economic leader.  Between 2003 and 2006, real personal income in Oklahoma grew by 13.6%--more than the national average and more than twice as fast as the average in forced-union states.

Missourians can benefit from these same union reforms.  If Missouri becomes a Right to Work state we will benefit from thousands of new and regenerated businesses; new construction sites; new jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenues.

Greg Johns is the Executive Director for Missourians for Right to Work.  He previously worked as an organizer for the AFL-CIO in California and Arizona.

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Right to Work advocates believe it is morally wrong to force a worker to pay money to a labor union in order to get or hold a job.


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