OPINION: Missouri can’t afford to miss economic opportunities right-to-work offers

  

By Ray McCarty

A previous article used selected statistics to paint a dire picture for Missouri if right-to-work was to become law as passed by the Missouri General Assembly and approved by then-Gov. Eric Greitens. In fact, Missouri stands to continue missing economic development opportunities (and the jobs and investment that come with them) if voters fail to uphold the law.

Site selectors, contractors that help companies choose new locations for businesses wanting to expand or move, said in a recent survey that RTW is a threshold item for about 40% of companies looking for new locations. In those cases, Missouri misses the opportunity to compete with other states for these new jobs and investment. We never get to discuss our relatively low taxes, central location, our strong workforce – none of that matters if we are not a right-to-work state because some companies will ONLY locate in right-to-work states. Such companies have 27 other states to choose from that are Right to Work states. Nineteen of those states adopted right-to-work before 1963. But since 2012, five additional states have adopted right-to-work (Missouri would be the sixth). Obviously, legislators in other states have realized the economic development opportunities they were missing and took corrective action.

Let’s examine some real statistics pulled from federal government sources, the only source for truly objective numbers.

WHAT ABOUT INCOME?

  • Wisconsin adopted in March 2015. Per capita income growth in 2016 was 1.08%, more than double the national average of .4% and nearly 4 times Missouri’s growth rate of .28%.
  • Indiana adopted in February 2012. Per capita income growth from 2012-16 was 8%, 33% higher than the national average of 6%.
  • Michigan adopted in March 2013. Per capita income growth from 2013-2016 was 11%,50% higher than the national average of 7%.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

WILL RIGHT TO WORK KILL UNIONS?

Not if they are doing their job because members will see value in their dues. Here are the union membership numbers from 2016-2017 for some Right to Work states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Arkansas: 47,000 to 62,000 = increase of 15,000 union members
  • Michigan: 606,000 to 658,000 = increase of 52,000 union members
  • South Carolina: 32,000 to 52,000 = increase of 20,000 union members
  • Wisconsin: 219,000 to 230,000 = increase of 11,000 union members
  • Nebraska: 64,000 to 70,000 = increase of 6,000 union members

Unions that prove their value to their members through apprenticeships, insurance, strike pay, etc., will retain their members and those members will continue to pay dues. By the way, private sector union membership in Missouri shrank from 9.7% in 2016 to 8.7% in 2017 without right-to-work.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

RTW IMPACT ON JOBS:

The manufacturing sector lost jobs nationwide from 2001-16, but fewer manufacturing jobs were lost in right-to-work states (Right-to-work state manufacturing jobs decreased by 19.2 percent while manufacturing jobs in non-RTW states decreased by 24.5 percent). Construction jobs increased by 6.3 percent in right-to-work states from 2001-2016, compared to only 0.2 percent in non-RTW states.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Bottom line, Missouri cannot afford to delay any longer. We need to adopt Right to Work so we may continue to compete for new jobs and investment. That is why Associated Industries of Missouri supports Proposition A upholding our right-to-work law.

Ray McCarty is the President and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri