The Year in Brief: ‘Right-to-work’ bill dies, 2016 revival uncertain

In brief

So-called right-to-work legislation resurfaced in Missouri in 2015 and advanced further than ever before, making it to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

Labor groups lined up against the legislation, which would have banned the practice of requiring individuals to become union members or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Prominent business organizations, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, rallied behind the bill.

The Year in Brief offers a look at Missouri’s most important business stories of 2015 and previews how those stories could play out in 2016 and beyond. 

However, backers of the contentious legislation could not garner enough support to override Nixon’s veto and make Missouri the country’s 26th right-to-work state.

The bill was one of 18 approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and later struck down by Nixon, a Democrat. The right-to-work effort ultimately died in the House during the September veto session, when Republicans could not muster the two-thirds majority needed to send the bill to the Senate.

In the future

It’s not yet clear whether the issue will be brought up during the 2016 legislative session. House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said labor reform is a top priority for his caucus, but he also has indicated Republican lawmakers have not decided whether right-to-work legislation will return in 2016.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has said the House will need to show stronger support for such a bill before the Senate devotes time to it.

The legislation could percolate throughout next year’s gubernatorial race. In their first joint appearance, Missouri’s top Republican candidates, except St. Louis businessman John Brunner, expressed support for right-to-work laws. Richardson said recently that a Republican governor would be needed to make Missouri a right-to-work state.

This all comes against the backdrop of union membership in Missouri hitting its lowest level in more than a quarter century last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a graphic

A breakdown of the House vote that sealed the fate of right-to-work legislation in 2015:

Right To Work Year in Brief

On social media

Union representatives rallied against the bill before the veto session and made their presence felt during the Legislature’s September meeting.

After the bill was defeated, the UAW chapter representing workers at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly celebrated.

Despite the millions spent by corporate interests, right-to-work goes down in Missouri.

Posted by United Auto Workers Local 249 on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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