‘Right-to-work’ bill backed by Democrat gets first-round approval in Missouri

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House of Representatives gave first round approval to a measure that would enact “right to work” for the state’s construction trade unions.

The measure – traditionally sought by conservative politicians seeking to weaken labor unions – was sponsored this time by Representative Courtney Curtis, a Democrat of Berkeley.

Right to work laws, like those that exist in most of Missouri’s neighboring states, ban unions from collecting representation fees from non-members in majority-union workplaces.

“This will starve them,” union leaders, “of the resources they need to pay the handsome salaries they have, and force them to provide services to their members,” Curtis said.

Curtis, who represents part of Ferguson, said he is sponsoring the bill because of his concern that African Americans and minorities like him are under-represented by the construction unions.

During Wednesday’s debate, Republicans were mostly silent. Instead, they let Curtis defend the bill from his own party and, more specifically, other African Americans in the House.

“How is this bill going to force any organization to be inclusive?,” said Representative Carla May, a St. Louis Democrat. “There’s no way to legislative equality.”

The bill received first-round approval by a voice vote. For it to head to the Senate, it would have to receive a recorded vote in the House, which could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

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