Will we see right-to-work in the next Missouri legislative session?

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Following the resounding defeat of Prop A, a measure seeking to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state, supporters of the measure seem split on whether the issue will be pushed forward again in the coming legislative session.

Rep. Holly Rehder of Sikeston is a vocal proponent of right-to-work and issued a statement on Wednesday reaffirming her commitment to moving the issue forward.

“Last night’s results should not surprise anyone who has followed this issue,” Rehder said. “We knew that big labor would throw in everything they had to defeat right-to-work. Spending millions of dollars to confuse voters led to the results last night. Unions will do anything to cling to power but the data is clear, the Right to Work states around us have seen wages go up and the number of jobs increase. This fight is not going away and I look forward to continuing to push for labor reform.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry also has stated their support for the measure going forward. In a statement issued after the votes came in, Daniel P. Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that union bosses blocked Missouri on the issue, using a “roughly $20 million war chest” with millions of union dollars being used to persuade voters to shut down the proposition.

“While supporters of Proposition A were vastly outspent, we still believe ‘freedom-to-work’ is right for Missouri,” he said. The numbers don’t lie. Missouri will continue to fall behind until we pass ‘freedom-to-work’ into law. Unfortunately, the unions used their massive cash advantage to drown out our positive economic message. They spread misinformation and lies, which misled many Missourians about what Proposition A would do for them and for our state’s economy. This statement is not a concession. With the future of our state’s economy on the line, we cannot concede hope that Missouri will soon join most other states and pass freedom to work protections.

“Freedom to work remains an important and worthy goal that the Missouri Chamber will continue to pursue.”

Gov. Mike Parson advocated for Prop A, and on Wednesday, said Missouri voters had voiced their opinion on the matter, but also said he was “absolutely optimistic about the future of Missouri and convinced that there are significant and exciting opportunities to come.”

However, Rep. Bill White, another supporter of the issue, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he did not expect legislative leaders to push forward with the measure, which was defeated with a bipartisan vote of 67 to 32.

“I will probably file my right-to-work bill next year, but it is not going to go to the floor,” White told the Post-Dispatch. “I do not anticipate it moving beyond a committee hearing.”

Leaders may be hesitant to take up the measure again because of the margin of defeat. The 67-32 loss is even more lopsided than the last time right-to-work came to Missouri ballots back in the 1970’s, where it was defeated 60-40.

And by looking at the election results, it appears that Republican voters split down the issue, an estimated 50 percent casting votes against the same legislation their conservative representatives had approved.

With that in mind, some Republican lawmakers have already started thinking that it may be time to table the issue for the near future.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.