JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Chamber of Commerce is promoting the Right-to-Work (RTW) policy as being successful in other states, saying RTW states are outpacing Missouri. Missouri was on track to be the 26th RTW state in the country until Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. The legislation passed the House without being close to a veto-overriding supermajority.
The Chamber points to an article last month in Site Selection Magazine where Indiana and Michigan, two newer RTW states, have been added to the “Top 10 Most Competitive States” ranking and were chosen due to “states new project performance.”
“The article underlines what economic development professionals and enterprising states already know: Right-to-Work status means more jobs for the states that have the foresight and courage to enact it,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber and Industry president and CEO.
A release from the Chamber addressing the veto said that the veto “means that workers in Missouri will continue to be forced to join labor unions, or pay union dues, to keep a job in a unionized workplace. The governor’s signature also means fewer jobs for Missouri.”
The Chamber’s statements reflect Republican floor debate highlighting increased workforces in neighboring RTW states. Legislators supporting the bill said the law would bring or keep those jobs in Missouri.
“Today, Gov. Nixon chose to use this issue as a political prop to grab media headlines instead of taking advantage of a strong economic development tool that is proven to add good-paying jobs,” Mehan said. “It’s simple economics. A state’s labor policy is one of the top factors employers and site selectors look to when deciding where to move or expand businesses. The more favorable a state looks, the more jobs that state will have to offer its workers.”
Democrats in the state have lauded a list of Missouri businesses who supported the veto, but the Chamber has shot back with a list compiled by Gallup showing support for RTW policy from business management.
“The majority of Missouri employers support making our state Right-to-Work according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 CEOs and top management conducted by Gallup,” the Chamber wrote. “Support for this policy was even higher in some industry sectors, such as transportation, utilities and communications, where 67 percent supported making Missouri a Right-to-Work state. The survey was part of the Missouri Chamber’s effort to develop a 15-year strategic economic plan for our state called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead.”
Gallup also interviewed site selectors about Missouri’s labor status.
“Site selectors encouraged Missouri to become Right-to-Work,” Mehan said. “One site selector commented that Missouri’s prospect flow in manufacturing is only 60 percent of what it would be if it was Right-to-Work.”
The Chamber is encouraging political leaders and lawmakers to look at the research when considering the policy.
“We have Gallup and leading economic development magazines citing the importance of labor status, but instead Missouri has chosen politics as usual,” Mehan said.
Over the last year, the Missouri Chamber has invested nearly $500,000 in research through its Missouri 2030 initiative to develop a comparison of Missouri’s economic position among other states and identify ways the state can improve performance. The research shows that Missouri’s job growth significantly lags behind other states. Missouri’s real GDP per capita grew less than 1 percent between 2003 and 2013, the 43rd slowest rate among the 50 states, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“If 43rd in GDP growth is acceptable, then I guess we don’t need to make any changes to our economic policy as a state,” said Mehan. “But we believe that ranking is unacceptable and that Missouri needs to make changes to do better. This legislation would have helped us do better.”
The Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.