A state House committee has advanced the Senate’s version of right-to-work legislation.
Senate Bill 19 is largely similar to House Bill 91, the right to work bill passed by the House earlier this month. The major difference between the bill sponsored by Rolla Republican Senator Dan Brown and HB 91 is that it includes a grandfather clause. That will allow contracts between employers and unions that exist at the time it becomes law to remain in place until they expire or are altered.
“Since Oklahoma, every state that has passed right-to-work has had a grandfathering clause,” said Brown. “I would like to point out that that language is probably the toughest grandfathering language that’s in the United States on any of the right-to-work bills to date. We felt that we did not want to be a test case for the national right-to-work people as the first state that did not have a grandfathering clause.”
Republicans supporting SB 19 say right-to-work would give workers more freedom in being able to choose whether to be members of a union. Lake Ozark Republican Rocky Miller said he wants more union jobs in Missouri, and he believes right-to-work will increase union membership.
“From the time we last got to vote on this in 1978 to right now we’ve dropped from 20-to-30 percent union labor force to we’re just 8-percent now here in Missouri,” said Miller. “Both my grandfathers were union workers so we were blessed. Like I’ve said before, I owe a lot or everything to union labor.”
Democrats note a recent article that said Missouri union membership has increased to 9.7-percent.
Democrats say right-to-work is an attack on unions that would drive down wages in Missouri. Representative Rory Rowland (D-Independence) suggested that right-to-work should not be a priority compared to other issues Missouri is facing.
“Does this surprise you that this legislation is being pushed so quickly with respect to, we’re anticipating about a five- or 600-million dollar budget shortfall next year, for fiscal year ’18, and we’re also looking at roads and bridges in the State of Missouri being in very bad shape – we’re looking at probably 600 bridges right now that are, in fact, deficit – that are either going to be closed or in fact could be weight limited?” asked Rowland.
SB 19 was passed out of the House Committee on Economic Development 7-2. It next goes to the House Rules Committee before reaching the House floor. If it is passed by the House with no changes, it would go on to Governor Eric Greitens, who has said he supports right-to-work.
The bill will be carried in the House by Sikeston Republican Holly Rehder, who sponsored HB 91.