A 'yes' vote makes more sense on Prop A

Monday, July 30, 2018

On Aug. 7, Missouri voters will be asked to decide the fate of so-called right-to-work in Missouri.

Proposition A, as it will be listed on the ballot, aims to eliminate union dues as a requirement for employment in any workplace, effectively certifying a law passed by our elected representatives in the 2017 general assembly. One note that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is that RTW would not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of Senate Bill 19, unless those agreements are amended or renewed after the Senate Bill’s effective date.

Proponents of this measure are typically business groups such as the chambers of commerce, which want business-friendly practices. They claim RTW laws help recruit businesses.

Opponents of RTW say the law is simply a way to weaken unions, which is ultimately bad for workers’ wages and safety.

Both sides are putting out data to support their views, but both sides are guilty of cherry picking the stats bolstering their viewpoints.

It could be argued both sides are overplaying their hand. Business climate is established by so many different factors, from workforce to infrastructure to transportation needs to government incentives. Whether a state is RTW seems trivial on the long list of other factors. On the flip side, how many union workers will really stop paying their union dues if a state adopts RTW? Probably not that many. If union workers are seeing value in their unions, they will probably continue to pay to support those efforts.

Regardless, those involved in recruiting businesses and companies have said they won’t even consider moving to a state where RTW laws aren’t in place. Meanwhile, RTW should give union leadership and representatives more incentive to work hard for their workers. If workers aren’t seeing benefits, they can opt out. In that way, union workers will have more leverage to keep their leadership accountable.

Ultimately, the idea of being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment seems to violate basic principles of freedom. If someone is opposed to things being pushed by the union, they should not be forced to support those ideas with their pocketbooks in order to remain employed.

Proposition A is a hotly contested ballot initiative, particularly by those who oppose it. Unions have raised millions of dollars and have been very visible and outspoken against the measure, as reported in this newspaper and elsewhere.

Ultimately, for the reasons listed above, there are more reasons to vote “yes” on Prop A than against it.

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