Right-to-Work for less money

Katelyn Gosik is a staff writer for The Journal.

As a member of a work union, you are required to pay dues in order to be entitled to the benefit of job protection. Employees and employers within a union adhere to a labor contract called a Union Security Clause.

Missouri House Rep. Eric Burlison (R) proposed a house bill that would abolish union due requirements and ask voters to make Missouri the 25th right-to-work state.

Unions will still be in existence but they will not have the required funds to provide protection for their members.

Republicans have proposed several right-to-work bills at this session of the Missouri General Assembly. Right-to-work bills are legislation allowing people to work anywhere without being forced to join the union as a condition of employment, according to thelawdictionary.org.

Earlier this month, the bills were presented to the House Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee.

The right-to-work laws disregard the right that employees have to collectively bargain for job protection and benefits. These laws don’t only weaken Missouri’s unions. According to The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, workers in states with these laws earn an average of $1,540 less a year than workers in other states.

According to The Kaiser Foundation (statehealthfacts.org), people in states with right-to-work laws are more likely to be uninsured. These states also have a lower number of employees receiving job-based health insurance.

The United States Census Bureau revealed that poverty rates are higher in states with right-to-work laws: 15.3 percent compared to 13.1 percent in states without right-to-work laws.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in right-to-work states. Additionally, the National Education Association said that states with right-to-work laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education.

In December, President Barack Obama commented on the current increase of right-to-work states. “What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages at work,” he said.

Last year, Michigan and Indiana made efforts to pass right-to-work legislation. In response, thousands of Michigan workers congregated at the capitol to voice their opposition to right-to-work laws. Two weeks ago, democrats in southwest Missouri held an informational breakfast in Joplin, Mo., in opposition of the right-to-work laws.

This is not solely a union issue. If this bill passes, it would affect many Missouri workers and most lower-wage jobs. Because unions set the pace for state wages, they will be lowered if Missouri becomes a right-to-work state. Benefits would also be minimized and in some cases abolished. Since workers in states with right-to-work laws earn less on average than workers in other states, there will be a decrease in the amount of money fed into Missouri’s economy.

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