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Counterpoint: The reasons for Right to Work, from a committed opponent

by Jeff Mazur, AFSCME Executive Director


I am against Right to Work.


Right to Work drives down wages.  It infringes on the right to collective bargaining enshrined in our state constitution.  The version passed this year by the Missouri General Assembly even criminalizes efforts by employers to enter into certain relationships with their employees.  It solves no problem currently facing Missouri.  Gov. Nixon vetoed the bill, and it should stay vetoed.

But this column isn’t about why the so-called Right to Work bill is bad.  Instead, it is a recitation of the reasons why legislators should force the bill into law.

First, legislators should override the Governor’s veto and make Right to Work the law of the state because a number of influential multi-millionaire political contributors have decided Right to Work is a priority.  These people have lots of money and they give lots of money to people in the state who run for office, so it’s very, very important to cater to their whims. Imagine you gave millions of dollars to candidates in the last election cycle, including six-figure checks to some candidates.  Wouldn’t you feel it was owed to you to get a law or two?

Second, passing Right to Work will give a shot in the arm to the future political prospects of a couple legislative leaders who may want to move on to higher office.  Serving in the legislature can become pretty boring for the ambitious, so we owe it to the strivers to give them something flashy to run on statewide as they bump up against term limits.  Might put a dozen rank-and-file members in a pinch, but small price to pay.

Third, legislators are tired of hearing every year from national advocacy organizations, gadflies like Grover Norquist and model-legislation mills that they should pass Right to Work.  Do it now and legislators will finally be able to pacify those voices and probably get special recognition when they get flown out to the annual ALEC reception and dinner.

Fourth, they should do it because Eric Burlison has worked so hard on it. By passing Right to Work, the General Assembly can cement Burlison’s legacy as one of the greatest statesmen and policy minds of the modern era.  This should suffice as an interim tribute until the man is eligible for induction into the Hall of Famous Missourians.

Fifth, labor unions are sometimes (though with decreasing frequency and intensity) the political and ideological opponents of the legislative majority, so legislators should do whatever they can to use their power to crush those unions.  This is why they’re in Jefferson City, right?  Our education system is fixed, our transportation infrastructure is solid for generations to come, and people are really, really healthy.  So the General Assembly should turn its attention to identifying and implementing policies that inflict maximum discomfort on groups with whom they disagree politically.

Those are five reasons already, and it’s possible there are others we just don’t know about because they involve behind-closed-doors personal transactions to whose details we aren’t privy.  Still, those are reasons.

So take it from me, an avowed opponent of so-called Right to Work laws: there are a number of reasons why the General Assembly should override Gov. Nixon’s Right to Work veto.  If we limited ourselves to doing only things for which we have good reasons, we’d never get to swallow lightbulbs or marry our cousins.


READ NOW Point: Why I support Right to Work