The Show Me State looks poised to show right-to-work advocates a victory in 2017, with New Hampshire close behind.
The Missouri House passed HB 91, which prevents forced unionism, by a vote of 100-59 on Thursday and the Senate is expected to pass the legislation next week. Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, elected in November 2016 and sworn in Jan. 9, has said he’ll sign it once it reaches his desk.
“We’re pretty confident this year,” Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, told Watchdog.org. “I do expect it to pass.”
If that all comes to fruition, Missouri will become the 28th right-to-work state, after Kentucky enacted a similar measure earlier this month. Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin have also passed right-to-work laws in the past five years.
Right-to-work laws prevent workers from having to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
It’s been a decade-long battle in Missouri, where the Republican majority in the legislature debated the issue but never had the votes required to override the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
The Missouri Legislature finally passed a bill in 2015, but Nixon vetoed it. First elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, Nixon was term limited out of office.
Former House Speaker Tim Jones, now the head of conservative nonprofit Missouri Club for Growth, told Washington Examiner that “leadership is of the thinking that the faster, the better. Everyone has already taken a position on this and we haven’t had enough turnover in the legislature to think it will be any different this time.”
Now that Republicans have control of the governor’s office, it seems to be only a matter of time.
“It’s a good thing for the people of Missouri,” Mourad said. “Certainly, it’s going to spur economic development in the state.”
Of the eight states that border Missouri, only Illinois lacks a right-to-work law. Studies have shown that states that don’t have forced unionism tend to attract more business and industry — and keep the ones they’ve already got. For example, the Heritage Foundation found that unionized firms were 10 percentage points more likely to go out of businesses within seven years than those that weren’t unionized.
National Economic Research Associates reported in 2015 that right-to-work laws can have a major impact on business location decisions, especially in heavily unionized industries such as manufacturing.
“Other things being equal, businesses are more likely to locate in states with RTW laws,” author Jeffrey Eisenach wrote.
New Hampshire is also on track to pass right-to-work legislation in 2017. That state’s Senate passed the bill 12-11 on Thursday and it’s expected to be taken up in the House in the next few weeks, Mourad said.
New Hampshire would be the first state in the Northeast to enact a right-to-work law, and like Missouri it has a Republican governor who’s already said he plans to add his John Hancock when the document is ready.
“We’re optimistic about it passing in the House as well, and Gov. [Chris] Sununu has said he will sign it,” Mourad said.