Saint Louis, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon literally crisscrossed the state visiting union shops in St. Louis and Kansas City today to drum up support for his veto of a bill that would make Missouri the 26th state with “Right-to-Work” laws on the books.
At Ford’s Claycomo assembly plant in Kansas City and then again at a Sheet Metal Worker’s training facility in St. Louis, Nixon blasted Right-to-Work laws as bad for business owners and workers alike.
Nixon, a Democrat, calls the name “Right-to-Work” a “misnomer” in his formal veto message and says the law “creates a less skilled workforce” drives down wages and interferes with the right to contract.
Several of Missouri’s neighboring states have RTW laws on the books, which supporters say gives them a competitive edge. Critics of the law say it fundamentally weakens unions and lowers overall wages.
“Right-to-Work is wrong for Missouri, wrong for the middle class, and it must never become law,” Nixon told a massive crowd of labor supporters at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 training facility. “Missourians have already spoken on this, and we’re going to speak again.”
Republican lawmakers favoring RTW were quick to issue their own statements critical of Nixon’s veto. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Eric Burlison, said that Nixon was standing in the way of “worker freedom,” and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a longtime RTW supporter, said Nixon was inhibiting economic development.
Nixon had his own remarks about economic development.
“This attack on working Missourians would stunt economic growth by reducing workforce training opportunities and driving down wages,” Nixon wrote in his veto message. “For generations, the right to collectively bargain has yielded benefits for all workers.”
Overriding Nixon’s veto will be difficult for supporters in the state legislature. The controversial measure did not pass through either legislative chamber with a veto-proof majority. Lawmakers on both sides of the issue have until September to circle the wagons ahead of the special veto session.
Missouri politicos on both sides of the aisle weighed in on Nixon’s decision.
“Threatening business owners with imprisonment for negotiating mutually beneficial contracts with their labor unions is the very definition of ‘business unfriendly. Given the strong bipartisan opposition to this radically extreme and dangerous legislation, we are confident the governor’s veto will stand.” – House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis.
“I am extremely disappointed that the governor chose to reject this historic piece of legislation that has proven to be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation in the states where it is already in place. We have heard our governor use a lot of rhetoric about the need to create good-paying, family-supporting jobs for Missourians, but when he has the opportunity to do just that he instead turns his back on the people who elected him to lead.” – Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston
“Right to work sounds good on paper, but in reality it means lower paying jobs, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. It is being pushed by out of state special interests who believe workers do not deserve a say in the terms of their employment. Plain and simple, it’s a corporate giveaway at the expense of everyday Missouri families.” — Dave Cook, President of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655, Steven Straher, President of UFCW Local 88, and Tom Price, President of UFCW Local 2
“It is extremely disappointing to me that the governor has again turned his back on the people of this state by vetoing a pro-worker bill that would create the kind of family-supporting jobs we need to accelerate our economic engine. We have documented proof that Freedom to Work helps to attract job creators and workers in Freedom to Work states see their wages increase at a faster rate than non-Freedom to Work states. I am optimistic that my colleagues will join me during our annual Veto Session to stand in support of a worker’s right to decide whether to join a union. Together we can override the governor’s veto and put this common sense, much-needed reform into law to protect and promote worker freedom.” – Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield
“Governor Nixon’s veto marks a missed opportunity to open Missouri’s borders for new jobs and increased economic growth. I urge members of the General Assembly to stand up for Missouri workers and override this veto. Compared to non-Right to Work states, Right to Work states have seen greater private sector job creation, greater personal income levels and greater increases in population. It is vital for the future of our state that Missouri takes advantage of this opportunity to open our borders to new jobs and investment.” – Catherine Hanaway
“Ever since I became the mayor of Joplin, and throughout my political career, my main goal has been job creation.This legislation could have helped us bring more businesses to the Show-Me State, increase our job numbers, and foster a better environment for workers.” – Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin
“It is disappointing to see the governor stand in the way of the legislature’s efforts to position our state for long-term economic growth. We know Right-to-Work states see healthier levels of population, job and wage growth, and that job creators actively seek these states out when they look to relocate. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance this issue and others that provide more economic opportunity to Missouri workers and businesses.” – House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff
“I am disappointed in the governor’s expected action of vetoing this year’s Right-to-Work legislation. This is a letdown to the 6 percent of Missouri’s population that work in closed shops that are forced to join a union in order to support their families; no matter how little the union does for them. This veto is bad for the thousands of Missourians who would like to have a job but can’t find one because companies are failing to locate in Missouri due to the fact that many companies will only locate and/or expand in Right-to-Work states.” –Sen. Dan Brown, R-Phelps County
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.