Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Why shouldn’t Missouri become the 26th right-to-work state?

By Jason Hart

Union organizers who couldn’t persuade a majority of Missouri lawmakers to vote against right-to-work are bent on stopping a two-thirds majority from overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto this month.

A veto override of the right-to-work bill in the Missouri General Assembly would make Missouri the 26th state in which workers can’t be forced to pay a union as a condition of employment.

Right-to-work allows each worker to choose whether to support a union — a concept most voters in Missouri and across the country agree with.

To deal with widespread support for right-to-work, union bosses use populist front groups to flip public opinion by misrepresenting what right-to-work laws do.

Their attempts have failed in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin since 2012, but unions are sticking with the same strategy in Missouri.

For example, a Preserve Middle Class Missouri ad warns right-to-work “has been created by top executives” as a means of “taking away our voice” to negotiate for wages and benefits.

“Workers in right-to-work states make on average $1,500 less per year than workers in states that allow employees to bargain for fair wages and benefits,” the ad asserts.

Employees are allowed to bargain for wages and benefits in right-to-work states, and right-to-work does nothing to make it more difficult to join a union.

But then, Preserve Middle Class Missouri — which is run by the Teamsters union and United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 — isn’t likely to come out and say, “Right-to-work is bad because it lets workers choose whether to pay us.”

Using research from the AFL-CIO and Economic Policy Institute, Preserve Middle Class Missouri insists right-to-work laws result in lower wages, reduced benefits and higher risk of death on the job.

Carpenters union front The Committee to Protect MO Families makes the same arguments, relying on the same EPI and AFL-CIO research. This is no accident.

AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest union coalition, and EPI is a union-funded Washington, D.C., think tank whose board of directors is stacked with many of America’s wealthiest labor bosses.

EPI’s wage figures have been disputed by researchers at the conservative Heritage Foundation, who recently found that private-sector pay is higher in right-to-work states when adjusting for cost of living.

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