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Could Missouri become a Right to Work state?


Twenty-seven states and Guam have Right to Work laws, but not Missouri. Which means there is no law on the books that would prevent union membership from being a condition of working somewhere.

Even though there's no laws, Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work movement, said there is still a lot of talk in Missouri.

"Right to work laws, do not contemplate the notion that you'll be fired from your job if you don't pay dues or fees to a labor union," Mix said. "That's outrageous. It's wrong. It's un-American."

There was a vote in 2018 to enact a law, but that failed, in part thanks to unions lobbying against it. Andrew Hutchinson with Local LiUNA 955 said the union believes Right to Work laws undercuts work values and lead to lower wages.

"Myself and a lot of other members were a big part of beating it back the second time," Hutchinson said. "Missouri voters have defeated it twice at the ballot box, and we're we're hopeful that we don't have to do it a third time, but we will if we have to."

Most years, at least one Missouri lawmaker introduces a Right to Work bill. This past year, Sen. Jason Bean introduced Senate Bill 54, which didn't make it through the committee.

Union membership decreased from 10.3% of the nation's workers in 2021 to 10.1% in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is the lowest percentage ever recorded. That 10.1% represents over 14 million workers.

Despite the decrease, Mid-Missouri labor movements have not slowed down in the past year, from strikes to forming new unions.

Labor Day, recognized the first Monday in September, is a federal holiday honoring the achievements of the American workforce. It was first celebrated in 1882, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Several Mid-Missouri companies saw labor union activity in 2023.

In April, workers at Wildcat Materials, Inc. went on strike. LiUNA Local 955, the union that represented them, said workers had been bargaining for higher pay, more affordable insurance and overtime pay since December. This is now resolved, according to LiUNA, and a contract has been signed.

In May, workers for the City of Columbia demonstrated outside City Hall with a giant inflatable rat labeled "City Management." The protest during the city manager's State of the City speech was also organized by LiUNA Local 955, which represents some City of Columbia and University of Missouri workers. Workers were protesting city proposals that they say would cut wages for some city workers, including those in trash collection.

In June, Shangri-La Dispensary workers in Columbia voted to form a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655. The vote narrowly passed after weeks of workers picketing outside the dispensary. Some former employees told ABC 17 News that they were let go after the company learned they wanted to unionize, but the company said the fired employees' claims are baseless. 

Most recently, LiUNA Local 955 and other community members rallied outside the University of Missouri Printing Services, which the university is closing down. The union is asking MU to postpone the closing and make policy changes that could make printing more profitable.

Tuesday, the union representing Columbia City workers will present a proposal to create a new paid family leave policy for all city workers.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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