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Right to Work legislation bad news for Missouri workers

Missouri legislators are chomping at the bit to pass statutes severely curtailing the ability of labor unions to continue to afford to represent their members and others who benefit from their efforts.

As of mid-January, there were more than six laws proposed in addition to two joint resolutions from the House that were filed regarding imposing limitations on unions to organize organizing labor unions. This is just the beginning salvo, as more attacks are planned.

There are many myths surrounding "Right to Work" bills around the country. Proponents insist passage of Right to Work legislation will not increase Missouri businesses. The proposals would disallow dues being collected from non-labor union members working in unionized plants. They also seek to prohibit state workers from unionizing.

Dues allow unions to get things done. This is a case where benefits actually do trickle down, because when unions negotiate their contracts for wages, it lifts the wage scales for members and non-members alike. Disallowing workers to join unions of their own volition lets companies get away with paying lower wages and in some cases, permitting deplorable work conditions to exist for the employees.

Right to Workers say these laws guarantee all can have jobs, yet without union security clauses, employment protection erodes. While union dues are a negligible expense for workers, without the protection of a strong union, wages plummet, poverty levels increase, education stagnates and Missourians struggle to afford health care.

In Minnesota, the AFL-CIO offers some concrete examples that come when Right to Work laws are adopted:

-- Annual wages drop an average of $5,538

-- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states with Right to Work laws on their books have a higher incidence of worker injuries and deaths

-- Over 2,600 fewer dollars are spent per student in the state's public school systems.

Conversely, 78 percent of union plants offer health care coverage for their employees, compared to 51 percent of non-union shops.

If you belong to a labor union and have a dispute, your union rep is one source of assistance. Another is to contact a Missouri employment law attorney.

Source: Missourian, "Right to work is not right for Missouri" David Rosman, Jan. 20, 2015

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