Hardworking Missourians stood up to corporate cronies yesterday, overwhelmingly rejecting their efforts to enact a so-called right-to-work (RTW) law in the state that would have curbed the ability of workers to join together to negotiate for higher pay, benefits and safety on the job.
By a more than two-to-one margin, voters overruled the state Legislature and former governor that enacted RTW in 2017 after years of failed attempts to do so. The Teamsters and other unions came together in the weeks following the legislation’s passage to get voters to place a measure on the state ballot that would overturn the law.
Despite supporters’ efforts to sabotage the anti-RTW referendum vote by having it moved to the August primary ballot from the November general election ballot earlier this year, workers made it clear Tuesday they didn’t believe the lies told by big business interests that wanted to halt collective bargaining in the “Show Me” state.
“Voters across Missouri let anti-worker lawmakers know on Tuesday that they won’t be pushed aside so these elected officials can continue to line their pockets with corporate campaign dollars,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “Working Missourians understand the power of unions and how they help bring a better quality of life to union and non-union workers alike.”
Destructive RTW laws are designed to drive down wages and weaken workers’ bargaining rights. States that have already mandated right-to-work-for-less have lower wages, higher unemployment and poverty levels, and fewer protections for workers than free bargaining states.
Missouri Teamsters, under the direction of Jim Kabell, President of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Teamsters and Joint Council 56 in Kansas City, Mo., were involved from the get-go to make sure RTW never took effect in the state. He said voters got wise to the efforts of RTW supporters.
“For us to get 68 percent of the vote in Missouri is a pretty phenomenal number,” he said. “People weren’t fooled by right to work. The truth drove this campaign. People understood the truth and voted. They got the impact of this on their communities.”
As voters showed yesterday, there was no good reason for them to support such an anti-worker measure. The median salary of a union worker is more than $11,000 a year higher than the median non-union workers. Nine of the 10 highest poverty states are RTW. And those living in RTW states are also less likely to receive employer-based health insurance or pensions as well.
More broadly, taking away the rights of hardworking Americans to collectively bargain is not the answer. Working people want the freedom to join together and negotiate for a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. And the more money workers have to spend, the more products they buy, creating more jobs and better wages for all workers.
Big business says RTW is good for the American economy. But many of these same companies have offshored jobs and helped rig the rules, pushing U.S. wages down and placing the health and safety of workers at risk. Corporations are just looking to pocket higher profits.
For too many, the American Dream is slipping away. But more than 937,000 Missourians put their foot down and said “Enough!” when they voted to throw out this RTW law. They knew it was a ruse.