The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Right-To-Work is Right for Missouri

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On August 7, 2018, Missourians will have the opportunity to vote to uphold their state’s right-to-work law, passed by the legislature in 2017, which ensures that anyone can hold a job without having to join a union.  If they uphold the law by voting yes on Proposition A, Missouri will join the 27 states that have realized the vast economic benefits associated with right-to-work status.  If the law is rejected, the vote will represent not only a missed opportunity for employee choice, but also a victory for bigger government and deep-pocketed Big Labor bosses.

Any consideration of the ballot question should bear in mind the extraordinary lengths to which unions and their allies have gone to try to undermine the 2017 law.  Their demonization of right-to-work as the vote approaches has been relentless.  Hollywood celebrities are flooding the Missouri airwaves, fearmongering about the issue.  We Are Missouri, the main group advocating for repealing the law, has brought in nearly $16 million from powerful labor interests, many of them from out of state.  This is three times what has been raised by advocates of the right-to-work law.  The big money is against Proposition A.

The mammoth fundraising and public relations efforts to demonize a yes vote have not occurred in a vacuum.  They have occurred against the backdrop of two significant factors.  The first is the endurance of union political influence even as union membership has declined across the country.  In 1983, 20.1 percent of workers belonged to unions; in 2017, it was 10.7 percent. 

But unions have become more political, not less, as they have lost members.  In the 2018 campaign cycle, the top 20 labor interest groups have dropped more than $90 million in donations to candidates, parties, and outside political groups.  Each year since 2007, more than $40 million has been spent on lobbying for labor’s interests nationwide. 

In states without right-to-work laws, the relationship between unions and their political supporters is especially symbiotic:  unions fund the campaigns of progressive politicians, who then dedicate their efforts to preserving compelled membership, the unions’ cash cow.  In a state with undue labor influence, it is nearly impossible to cut government spending, reform pensions and benefits, eliminate wasteful programs, attract new jobs and businesses, prioritize the responsibilities of government, and adapt to the twenty-first century economy.  The voters of Missouri will be deciding not just whether to free workers from compelled involvement with unions, but also whether they are willing to tackle the issues that make reforming government and protecting taxpayer dollars so difficult. 

The second factor that lurks in the background of Proposition A is the Supreme Court’s June 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which found that requiring public-sector employees to make payments to unions with which they do not wish to affiliate is a violation of the First Amendment.  The decision effectively establishes right-to-work status for state and local government employees and represents a major milestone in the fight against forced participation in union activities.  The benefit to these public-sector employees is substantial.  They will finally be able to decide for themselves whether to join a union and how to spend their hard-earned dollars. 

But, as is too often the case in many aspects of the workforce, private-sector workers do not enjoy all the benefits of their public-sector counterparts.  Unless Proposition A is approved, everyday Missouri workers in the private sector will still face the unpleasant possibility of compelled union membership.  Only through a yes vote can Missourians provide for all workers the rights that the Supreme Court has guaranteed for public-sector workers.

Right-to-work laws respect the dignity of all employees.  These laws treat individuals as independent, resourceful, competitive, and capable of making their own decisions regarding union membership.  Forcing workers to join unions does the opposite:  it assumes that the average worker is too powerless, too helpless, and too poorly informed to make that decision.  Therefore, individuals must give up some of their pay to the much more highly-paid and politically-connected union bosses who purport to know what is best for everyone.

Show Me State voters have a golden opportunity to fight the special interests and expand opportunities for workers, and to ensure that all private-sector employees enjoy the same privilege as government workers:  the chance to decide for themselves whether to support a union with their own money.  They can do this by voting yes on Proposition A. 

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