RTW sponsor disappointed after Nixon vetoes ‘right-to-work’ bill

From the Springfield News Leader

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Thursday that would have made Missouri the 26th right-to-work state, but the local Republican lawmaker who sponsored the legislation said the Show Me State will adopt the measure sooner or later.

Nixon, a longtime opponent of the effort, traveled to the Kansas City area to announce the veto among local United Auto Workers union members near a Ford assembly plant. The bill would have barred workplace contracts that require all employees— even those who aren’t union members — to pay union fees.

“This extreme measure would take our state backward, squeeze the middle-class, lower wages for Missouri families, and subject businesses to criminal and unlimited civil liability,” Nixon said in a press release.

It’s unclear whether proponents will be able to muster enough support in the Republican-led Legislature to override the veto.

Even with a record number of Republicans in the Missouri House and a near-record in the Senate, the bill’s original passage still fell short of the two-thirds majority vote that would be needed in each chamber to overturn Nixon’s veto.

The GOP was split, with some members joining Democrats in opposition. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, the top Republican in that chamber, was among those who voted against right-to-work.

Legislators are to reconvene in September to consider overriding vetoes.

Whether it happens in September or later down the road, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, said he believes there is enough momentum behind right-to-work that it will become law.

“I think it is inevitable that Missouri will become a right-to-work state,” Burlison told the News-Leader Thursday.

Burlison also said, “It is extremely disappointing to me that the governor has again turned his back on the people of this state by vetoing a pro-worker bill that would create the kind of family-supporting jobs we need to accelerate our economic engine.”

Most of the Missouri’s eight neighboring states already have right-to-work laws; the only two that don’t are Illinois and Kentucky. Republican legislators and governors in the Midwestern states Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin all enacted right-to-work laws in the past three years.

Supporters in Missouri say the legislation would attract businesses and spur economic growth, while critics argue it would weaken unions and lead to lower wages.

Matt Morrow, president and CEO of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, said right-to-work laws are a key consideration for companies looking to locate in a new state.

“It’s an above-the-line criteria for a lot of companies, especially manufacturers,” Morrow said.

While companies are aware whether states have right-to-work laws, proponents of the right-to-work bill have “exaggerated” its importance, said Clark Brown, Missouri legislative director for Service Employees International Union.

Brown said right-to-work would be very harmful to Missouri’s private-sector unions.

This year marks the first that Missouri legislators were able to foster enough support to send a bill to the governor, and it came at a cost. The Legislature effectively shut down the last week of session after some GOP senators forced a vote on the measure and Democrats in response filibustered for days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.