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Kinder suggests “Right to Work” will go on the ballot, unions are ready for the fight

ST. LOUIS — The efforts of both sides on the “Right to Work” debate have been vocal the last few months, peaking during the end of last week after the Associated Press’ David Lieb reporter that Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder made comments at the American Legislative Exchange Council conference about the issue likely going to the ballot.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder

“I believe we will pass right-to-work next year and bypass (Nixon) entirely by putting it on the referendum ballot for voters,” Kinder said during the conference.

The effort behind “Right to Work” got further than ever before during this past session, though it never was brought to a legislative vote. Proponents of the effort ended the session with hopes that the issue will be brought up again in 2014, and potentially in multiple forms, including a ballot measure

“There has been more support as far as getting it on the ballot, the reason being that we know the governor will veto it,” Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, who chaired the House Standing Committee on Workers Freedom, said. “I’m not convinced [a ballot measure] is a good option because of past states trying to take it to the ballot. The majority of the attempts at the ballot have not been successful and that’s a bit discouraging.”

One of the most recent examples of a failed “Right to Work” ballot measure is Colorado during 2008.

Rehder said she hopes that before the issue is sent to the voters, in-depth polling will take place to gauge whether a measure truly is worth it.

Bob Soutier, President of St. Louis CLC
Bob Soutier, President of St. Louis CLC

The trepidation behind a ballot measure boils down to concerns of what labor groups will do to push back on the effort. That concern might be valid.

“AFL-CIO and the affiliated unions will pump millions of dollars to protect labor rights,” Bob Soutier, President of St. Louis Construction Labor Contractors, told The Missouri Times.

Soutier said he thinks that bringing up “Right to Work” as a measure is a “battle cry for Republicans trying to pump up their base.”

“They’re not going to do anything but cost themselves congressional and state House and Senate seats,” he said.

Aside from recent ballot measure talks, Rehder has personally been working on a potential alternative option on the legislative front: the chance to choose to accept “Right to Work” county-by-county. This has never been done before, and Rehder said it wouldn’t be her first choice, but if statewide fails then it provides another chance.