- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed a right-to-work measure on Monday, making the state the 28th with such a law on the books, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- The new regulation gives workers a pass on having to pay dues or join up when working on union projects and work sites, a promise upon which Greitens campaigned in the run up to his election victory last November.
- Greitens, Republicans and those in favor of the measure said it would create a business-friendly environment in the state, but labor union representatives argued that such laws are meant to chip away at union influence and would only decrease wages and workplace safety conditions.
Missouri Democrats were able to kill similar bills in the past because former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon promptly vetoed them when they came across his desk, according to The Journal. Union representatives, determined to beat the new regulation, filed to put a right-to-work measure on the state's 2018 ballot, only possible if they can get backing from 5% of voters in two-thirds of Missouri's congressional districts by Aug. 28. If they are successful, then the law just signed by Greitens will be forced into limbo until Election Day.
Kentucky passed right-to-work legislation last month, along with a law eliminating the prevailing wage requirement for state-funded projects. Missouri and Kentucky are the latest Midwest states — following Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia — to enact such laws, a significant shift because union labor historically has been influential in the Midwestern region of the country.
While some are crediting Kentucky's and Missouri's laws to the increase in the number of Republican lawmakers put in office in the November elections, the trend toward reduced wage requirements and less union-like work conditions has been developing for some time, much to the approval of private industry construction employer groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors. In fact, the ABC has a points system, the Merit Shop Scorecard, that tracks how "business-friendly" it considers each state and how many of its laws foster what the ABC considers to be a free enterprise environment.
Right-to-work and prevailing wage laws are part of that scoring program, but use of project labor agreements (PLAs), the environment for public-private partnerships, workforce development laws, career and technical training opportunities and the rate of job growth also factor into the score.