Nearly 60 million people say they would join a union today if they could. The problem? Union-busters and woefully outdated laws continue to undermine the right to collectively bargain.
Just take “right-to-work” laws, for example. Across the country, anti-worker legislators are relentlessly fighting to pass “right-to-work,” which has a more than 70-year track record of lowering wages, reducing benefits, and making workplaces more dangerous.
Missouri voters in 2018 voted to defeat “right-to-work” by 67.47 percent. Rarely in our current political climate do we see that many people agree on an issue. Yet, just a couple of months later, some in the Missouri Legislature wanted to bring back this draconian legislation against the will of the people. The PRO Act would wipe “right-to-work” off the map and support the will of the people.
On average, workers in states with “right-to-work” laws make nearly $9,000 less per year than workers in states without these laws ($50,174 compared with $59,163).
In 2019, 24 percent of jobs in “right-to-work” states were in low-wage occupations, compared to just 14.5 percent of jobs in other states.
The rate of workplace deaths is 37 percent higher in states with “right-to-work” laws.
But now, we have a chance to put “right-to-work” where it belongs — in the trash bin of history with the poll tax and separate but equal doctrine. Missourians are ready. They proved it by defeating Proposition A in 2018.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would override these laws and strike a major victory for Missouri workers.
The PRO Act was passed by the House last year but was blocked in the Senate. This year, we have another chance to make history. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and end “right-to-work” for good. I am urging all Missouri workers to support the PRO Act and encourage your elected officials to do the same.
Jake Hummel is the Missouri AFL-CIO president.