'Right-to-Work' gaining momentum in Missouri - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

'Right-to-Work' gaining momentum in Missouri

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Some state lawmakers wasted no time in working to make Missouri the next right-to-work state.

On Tuesday, January 10, house members heard testimony about changes to the way workers pay union dues and what those dues can go toward.

Those arguing for the bills say right-to-work attracts business and grows jobs.

Opponents say the idea is a race to the bottom and weakens labor unions.

The possibility of right to work passing has many business owners excited, and union workers frightened. 

We asked a union leader in Cape Girardeau, and the chamber of commerce to take a closer look at this legislation.

"We're just trying to make a living here, and I think we're a benefit to the community, and why we would make this such an agenda baffles me."

Rick McGuire with Labors Local 104 in Cape Girardeau said right to work allows business owners to bypass union agreements.

"For people that don't like unions to try to get involved in their unions and their negotiations between them and their contractors which is what we do," McGuire said.

However, John Mehner, the president and CEO of Cape Girardeau's Chamber of Commerce, said that's not it at all.

"Missouri would I believe the 28th state that does not require employees of a business that has a union to join that union. They can choose not to pay the union dues, and not be a part of the union," Mehner said.

Mehner said right to work allows them to be competitive for big business.

"It is, in fact, a selection criteria for a substantial number of manufacturing and logistics businesses that consider relocation," Mehner said.

Right to work was vetoed in June of 2015 by former governor Jay Nixon.

He said it would be "a significant step backwards for Missouri" by reducing wages and limiting training.

While newly appointed Governor Eric Greitens openly endorsed it.

It's something, McGuire said, that has some of his members worried.

"They're scared. They're scared about what might happen, and I think we're going to be okay, but they're asking me why would anybody want to mess with our way of life," McGuire.

Mehner said unions can still thrive, but now workers can make their own decision.

"It doesn't keep someone from joining the union at all. It just gives them the choice," Mehner said.

McGuire said union dues go to things like health insurance, a pension fund, and training.

Mehner said right to work would give individuals the option to opt-out if their employers already offer these benefits.

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