By Sen. Will Kraus
Missouri will have the opportunity to become the nation’s 26th state without forced unionism during next week’s veto session. Passing a right-to-work law, House Bill 116, is one of the most important actions we can take to move Missouri forward in the global economy. As we approach veto session, I encourage voters to call their state representatives and voice their support.
Statistics show that right-to-work states, specifically in the Midwest, consistently have higher job growth, higher growth in manufacturing productivity, and population growth increases over forced unionism states.
A 2015 study by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILLR) showed that Midwest states without forced unionism experienced an 11.9 percent growth in private employment over the last decade, whereas Missouri only achieved a 5 percent growth rate. The same study showed growth in manufacturing to be 25.5 percent in states with worker freedom laws, while Missouri had a 4 percent decrease in manufacturing industries.
Critics of right to work legislation claim that forced unionism states, which are concentrated in the Northeast and on the west coast, have higher wages. However, these claims fail to take into account that forced unionism states almost always have higher costs of living and higher minimum wages, which artificially inflates the population’s income. A separate NILLR study found that when per capita earning were adjusted for cost of living, the disposable income per capita was roughly $2,200 higher per year in non-forced unionism states.
Worker freedom is the other, perhaps more important, side of this issue. The workers’ freedom law will prevent companies from forcing workers to pay union dues, though they may still voluntarily do so. When workers are free to choose to pay dues, the unions are more accountable to ensuring the services they provide are worth the cost.
Additionally, workers need be free to stop payments if the union supports a cause or issue they don’t agree with. Because unions use member dues to support political causes, forced unionism threatens individuals’ liberties.
These concerns regarding union-support of political causes have been amplified recently after the president of AFL-CIO publicly announced his support of Planned Parenthood, despite national controversy over the disposal of fetal tissue by the organization. Forcing workers to pay dues to an organization that supports a potentially controversial moral issue puts workers in the position of choosing between holding a job and maintaining political freedom.
Overall, passing a workers’ freedom law would benefit the state, both economically and by increasing individual liberties. The reality is that Missouri needs these modifications to be competitive in the modern economy. I encourage voters to contact their state representatives and voice their support before the upcoming veto session.