Missouri Becomes 28th Right-to-Work State

Published March 6, 2017

Missouri is joining the growing number of states where union membership in a place of work is voluntary.

The new law, signed by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in February, takes effect in August. It removes legal requirements currently allowing labor unions and employers to force workers to join labor unions and pay dues as a condition of employment.

Cites Positive Economic Effects

Matthew Glans, a senior policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says opponents of right-to-work (RTW) laws often misunderstand or mischaracterize those laws.

“Right-to-work laws prohibit employers from requiring an employee to join or refuse to join a union, pay fees or other charges to a union, or pay any third party or charity instead of paying a union,” Glans said. “Opponents of right-to-work legislation contend the reforms force wages down, disadvantage unions, and lower people’s standard of living, but research shows right-to-work states have experienced positive economic growth across the board.”

Glans says Missouri’s new law will help promote prosperity.

Missouri’s economy will become more competitive as a right-to-work state,” Glans said. “Six of Missouri’s neighboring states have right-to-work laws, and Investor’s Business Daily notes from 2002 to 2012, the neighboring states experienced a 3 percent increase in private-sector payroll employment while Missouri suffered a 1.6 percent decline.”

Listing the Benefits

Glans says there are plenty of reasons Missourians should expect similar growth.

“States enacting right-to-work policies have experienced positive economic progress across the board,” Glans said. “The Mackinac Center for Public Policy found, ‘According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states showed a 42.6 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011, while non-right-to-work states showed gains of only 18.8 percent.’ The study also reveals inflation-adjusted gross personal income in right-to-work states increased 86.5 percent between 1990 and 2013, compared to just 51.3 percent for non-RTW states. 

“Right-to-work states have enjoyed greater success attracting new and existing businesses,” Glans said. “A report in Site Selection Magazine found almost half of all major businesses refuse to consider locating in jurisdictions with compulsory union membership.”

Open for Business

State Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston), a sponsor of the bill Greitens signed, says the new law will help Missouri compete with its neighbors.

“Right now in southeast Missouri, we lose opportunities to Arkansas and Tennessee,” Rehder said. “We are looking forward to new and expanded businesses. Some have already started looking at us. It’s a very exciting opportunity we’ve been waiting on for years.

“Go to the [U.S.] Department of Labor website and look at the states that have passed right-to-work in the past few years,” Rehder said. “Wages are up. Job numbers have increased—union and non-union. All of that is because there are more jobs. You have more competition among employers to get the good workers and keep them and more jobs for the workers to choose from.”

All Upside, No Downside

Rehder says the new law will benefit everyone in the state, including workers who choose to join a union.

“If an employee chooses to be in the union, nothing changes,” Rehder said. “They still have all of the benefits they experienced before this bill passed.”