Missouri Voters Reject Right-to-Work
On Tuesday, August 7, 2018, voters in Missouri’s primary election largely voted against becoming the 28th state in the country to adopt a right-to-work initiative. Officially known as Proposition A, the ballot asked voters if they wanted to adopt Senate Bill 19 as passed by the Missouri General Assembly in 2017. The Bill prohibited forced membership in a labor organization and forced payments of union dues as conditions of employment in unionized businesses. It also made any activity that violated employees' rights illegal and ineffective, and allowed legal remedies for anyone injured as a result of another person violating or threatening to violate employees' rights. The Bill would not have applied to collective bargaining agreements entered into before its effective date.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri legislature originally enacted Senate Bill 19 in 2017; however, it never took effect because unions in Missouri gathered enough petition signatures to force a referendum. The petition proved successful as Proposition A was defeated by a wide margin of 67.5 to 32.5 percent.
While organized labor lauded the outcome, it should be noted that the result will effectively return Missouri to the status quo that existed prior to former Gov. Greitens’ attempt to shift the labor relations dynamic in the state last year.
It should also be noted that in June, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees that non-union, public sector workers cannot be forced to pay "agency fees" (also called "fair share" fees) that cover the cost of collective bargaining. The decision overturned a 41-year-old precedent finding these fees constitutional. In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court concluded such agency fees are a violation of public workers' free speech rights. While the Janus opinion only has an immediate impact on public employees, it in effect imposes "right-to-work" rules on all government employees.