Missouri voters reject Proposition A, prevent adoption of ‘right-to-work’ law (Updated)

Updated Aug. 7 at 11:05 p.m.

Missourians voted down a proposal that would have made Missouri the 28th “right-to-work” state Tuesday, with private-sector unions evading a massive hit.

Proposition A’s passage would have allowed private-sector workers to opt out of paying collective bargaining fees to unions.

Proponents of the movement to abolish mandatory collective bargaining fees have dubbed it “right to work.”

With more than 94 percent of voting precincts counted as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office showed 67.4 percent of voters opposing Proposition A and 32.6 percent supporting it.

On Tuesday night, unions celebrated voters’ rejection of the proposition.

Alexis Straughter, a certified nursing assistant in St. Louis, has been canvassing in opposition to Proposition A with the Service Employees International Union.

“We do deserve a living wage, and we do deserve sick time,” Straughter said in a phone conversation Tuesday, before election results were in. Proposition A would have made it harder for people to express those needs, Straughter said.

“The union plays a middleman … to make sure that the workers have a voice,” Straughter said.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry renewed its support of Proposition A in a statement Tuesday.

“With the future of our state’s economy on the line, we cannot concede hope that Missouri will soon join most other states and pass freedom to work protections,” the statement said.

Tuesday’s vote was the culmination of a process that started more than 18 months ago. In 2017, the Missouri Legislature approved a bill to ban mandatory collective bargaining fees for non-union employees. Former Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill, but before it could go into effect, it was stopped by a petition drive. Labor groups submitted more than 310,000 signatures, and the bill was put to a vote, appearing on ballots as Proposition A.

In June, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision essentially applied right-to-work policies to public-sector employees. Because of that ruling, only Missouri’s private-sector unions were directly affected by the state’s right-to-work vote.

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