A bill that would make Missouri the 28th right-to-work state now awaits Gov. Eric Greitens’ signature.
The Republican-led Missouri House on Thursday cleared SB 19, a measure to prevent forced unionism previously passed by the state Senate. Greitens, a Republican who took office last month, pledged to sign it. His predecessor, Democrat Jay Nixon, vetoed a similar bill in 2015.
The House’s move received praise from the GOP-led Senate.
“Right-to-work gives Missouri the ability to encourage other businesses to move to the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin. “We aren’t just fighting for more jobs. We are fighting just to be on the list of consideration. Right-to-work, combined with our other economic development measures we plan to pass this session, will help make Missouri more attractive to investments. I am confident after the long hours working on the legislation the governor will sign it.”
Kentucky enacted a similar measure in January. Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin have also passed right-to-work laws in the past five years.
Seven of the eight states that border Missouri — Illinois is the lone holdout — have right-to-work laws, and many lawmakers and economists said that put the Show-Me State at a disadvantage in luring business and industry.
Right-to-work laws prevent workers from being forced 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 Nixon.
Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Business and Industry, called right-to-work an “economic development tool” for Missouri.
“It is exciting to finally be this close to making it law in Missouri,” Mehan said in a statement. “We applaud lawmakers for their commitment to protecting Missouri jobs and Missouri families. It’s a fact, right-to-work laws grow jobs and increase opportunities and economic growth.”
New Hampshire could also soon become a right-to-work state. A bill has passed the state Senate and has the support of the governor, but still awaits passage in the state House.