Bill seeks to end forced unionization
February 09, 2011
JEFFERSON CITY - Fifty percent of manufacturers refuse to consider Missouri as a place to locate new jobs because Missouri law has no protection against forced unionization of their workers, according to testimony given Tuesday (2-8) in the Senate General Laws Committee. Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville) would change that by giving employees the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union as a condition of getting or keeping a job.

Ridgeway said recent census data shows that businesses with jobs and the workers who take them are fleeing to states with worker protection laws, also know as "Right-to-Work" laws.

"With an unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent, Missouri must consider every obstacle to put our citizens back to work," Ridgeway said. "It is clear that job producers and the workers who take those jobs are voting with their feet on the 'Right-to-Work' issue because they are moving to states that have this protection."

Missouri will lose a congressional seat. Ridgeway testified that non- "Right-to-Work" states lost a total of nine congressional seats and, due to population shifts, "Right-to-Work" states gained 11 congressional seats.

"While Missouri has lost more than 100,000 jobs since June of 2008, many 'Right-to-Work' states have fared far better," said Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer (R-Dexter), a supporter of the bill. "Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that unemployment is lower in the 22 states that have adopted 'Right-to-Work' laws. In the last decade, those states have added 1.5 million private sector jobs, while non 'Right-to-Work' states have lost 1.8 million jobs. That should be a wake-up call; now is the time to allow Missouri to compete."

Six of Missouri's eight neighboring states are "Right-to-Work" states and all but one has a lower unemployment rate than Missouri. Tennessee, the only "Right-to-Work" state with a comparable unemployment rate to Missouri, gained jobs in 2010 while Missouri lost jobs.

The committee, chaired by Jane Cunningham (R-17) also heard testimony that per household income was higher in "Right-to-Work" states than in forced-union states. Data cited from a study published in 2000 by Dr. James T. Bennett, a professor for George Mason University, demonstrated that the mean two-income household in a "Right-to-Work" state had nearly $2,000 more in after-tax purchasing power than its counterpart in a non- "Right-to-Work" state. A study published in 2005 by Dr. Barry Poulson, a professor at the University of Colorado, determined real disposable income in metropolitan areas in "Right-to-Work" states is higher, with nearly $4,300 more in after-tax purchasing power than its counterpart in a non- "Right-to-Work" state.

Ridgeway noted that if Missouri becomes a "Right-to-Work" state, employees will still be allowed to unionize and employers will still be allowed to enter into collective bargaining agreements and hire union labor. The committee also heard a similar bill, Senate Bill 197, also sponsored by Ridgeway, which would send the measure to voters.

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