JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval to a ‘right-to-work’ ballot measure on Wednesday afternoon, but fell far short of the required votes to send the bill on to the Senate.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, was perfected by the House by a 78 to 68 votes, facing opposition from 19 House Republicans.
“Unions should fight for their members and earn their support,” Burlison said. “What do they have to fear from going their members their choices?”
Burlison was supported during debate by Republicans like Rep. Dave Schatz and Donna Lichtenegger. He said on the border of Missouri in neighboring states with ‘right-to-work’ on the books, counties have seen job growth while growth in Missouri counties has stagnated.
With the exception of a fiery speech from Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, Democrats did not speak during debate. Neither did wary Republicans, who quietly voted against the bill during a 15 minute vote. Hummel, the Democratic leader in the chamber, accused Republicans of working on behalf of “out-of-state interests”, noting – without naming them by name – the entrance into the debate in recent weeks by national conservative groups like FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union, and Grover Norqist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
“Missouri has become ground zero in a national effort by out-of-state interests to silence workers voices and ensure the balance of power between CEO’s and workers are tipped in a direction that ensure that profits come before people,” he said. “This is pushed by out of state groups that could care less how hard to pay the bills each month.”
Hummel noted expansion in Missouri by companies like General Motors and Express Scripts, even without the state having ‘right-to-work’ on the books, a policy that prevents payment of union dues from being a condition of employment.
From here, passage of the bill has a tough up-hill climb. The bill’s Republican opponents included St. Charles-area Reps. like Chrissy Sommer and Anne Zerr, as well as state Senate candidates Jeannie Riddle, R-Fulton, and Paul Wieland, who is running for Senate in Jefferson County against Democratic Rep. Jeff Roorda.