It might have been easy to overlook yesterday, what with all of the hoopla surrounding the Ohio special congressional election, but there was a ballot measure in Missouri which produced a disappointing result. The state passed their own right to work law last year which would have forbidden mandatory so-called “fair share” fees collected from non-members by unions. But the law was challenged and put to a referendum, in what was being described as “labor’s big test” in the Show Me state.
Unfortunately for right to work advocates, the votes didn’t fall their way. In fact, it wasn’t even close. (NPR)
Voters in Missouri have overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature that would have banned compulsory union fees — a resounding victory for organized labor that spent millions of dollars to defeat the measure.
With about 98 percent of the precincts reporting, the “no” vote on Missouri’s Proposition A, which supported the law, was running about 67 percent, with nearly 33 percent voting “yes.”
In 2017, the right-to-work law passed Missouri’s Republican legislature and was signed by then-Gov. Eric Greitens. However, union organizers gathered enough signatures to keep it from going into effect pending the results of a statewide referendum.
The labor unions are taking a victory lap and will be able to keep counting their money and funneling it into Democratic political campaigns. This isn’t even a situation where there’s some good news on the back end or a chance for a reversal. The way Missouri’s rules are set up, once a law is passed, people opposed to it can place it on hold if they gather enough signatures and force a public referendum. The labor unions managed that and, having won at the ballot box, the law is dead. If Missouri wants to gain right to work status they’ll need to start over from scratch with a new bill.
So how did this happen? Yes, turnout was light as you might expect for a primary election in a non-presidential year. But that was still a fairly lopsided result. The labor unions flushed millions of dollars into advertising and were saturating the state to promote their agenda. They also capitalized on a very public protest by public school teachers who were fighting for higher wages and folded that story into their argument. Clearly, it had an impact and they came away with the win.
For the time being, workers in Missouri who disagree with the political activities of their unions will continue to have their pockets picked and their political speech coopted. But as the saying goes, the fight is long and sometimes you wind up taking two steps forward and one step back. Missouri’s workforce will need to dust themselves off and work harder to get their message across.