Out-of-state union funding surges ahead of ‘right-to-work’ vote

Out-of-state unions are pouring millions of dollars into Missouri campaigns ahead of the state’s “right-to-work” referendum on Aug. 7, the Associated Press reports, which comes just more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against public sector unions.

Groups opposed to the right-to-work referendum, which would ban mandatory collection of union fees, have raised about $6 million more than their opponents in the last four months.

We Are Missouri, a group opposed to banning mandatory fees, has raised more than $7.4 million since the beginning of April, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission. That’s up from more than $5.4 million since last quarter, and much of it coming from out-of-state union donations, including groups affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and United Food & Commercial Workers.

Across the aisle, three groups pushing for right-to-work laws have raised more than $1.6 million. That includes a $500,000 donation from A New Missouri, a nonprofit recently accused of violating campaign finance laws.

Peverill Squire, a political scientist and the University of Missouri-Columbia, said that the money could have consequences for how the referendum plays out. “Just being able to get that information out and make their argument probably will help mobilize voters and maybe convince a few people that the opposition’s the correct one,” he said.

Missouri’s Republican-led legislature passed a right-to-work law under former Gov. Eric Greitens, but it faltered when enough signatures were gathered to put the issue to a vote.

Banning mandatory union fees has long been a priority of the Republican-led Missouri legislature, but it wasn’t until Greitens took office that lawmakers were finally able to pass such a law.

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