At a Chicago conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) predicted that Republicans in the state legislature will refer a so-called right-to-work measure to the ballot next year, giving voters the chance to decide whether to make their state the 25th to enact such a law.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the state’s lawmakers have pushed anti-labor right-to-work legislation, which prohibits unions from requiring workers to join. They introduced the same legislation earlier this year, emboldened by the passage of such laws in Michigan and Indiana, after having done the same in 2011.
It’s no coincidence that Kinder made his comments at an ALEC convention. The various right-to-work bills proposed across the country closely mirror draft legislation from the conservative, business-backed group. When it cropped up in Missouri, it was nearly identical to bills in a handful of other states, including Maine, New Hampshire, and others.
Despite the innocuous sounding name, right-to-work legislation is devastating for a state’s workers. They cost all workers, union members and otherwise, $1,500 a year in wage losses. They are also linked to less access to health and retirement benefits. Weakening unions through such laws hollows out the middle class. And they can decrease worker safety.
Meanwhile, the promised benefits aren’t likely to appear. There is scant evidence backing up the claim that they boost jobs or economic growth. They can hurt small businesses. Researchers found these laws haven’t boosted employment growth in the states that have passed them.