Right to Work legislation is sent to the Senate during last days of session
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Right to Work legislation is sent to the Senate during last days of session

Date: May 11, 2015
By: Michael Lindquist
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 116

JEFFERSON CITY - A Senate committee approved legislation that moves Missouri closer to becoming a Right to work state.

In a hearing of the Senate Small Business committee, senators heard heavy opposition to make Missouri a Right to Work state.

Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, is the chairman of the committee. Many of Parson's calls for testimony in support of the bill went answered.

One of the testimonials in support of Right to Work included Missourians Right to Work representative Greg Johns.

"It's proven that our union membership will build if we have a right to work law in the state of Missouri."

Terry Nelson, a representative of the Carpenters' District Council of greater St. Louis and Vicinity, does not share his views.

"If you take the opportunity away from me and my union to negotiate reasonable living wage plus benefits again I say shame on you!" Nelson said. "Let the general public decide what needs to be done. Do not put shackles on the arms of the unions by not allowing us to do what we do best and that's to have a partnership with the people we survive with."

People in the hallway outside the packed hearing room were heard applauding and cheering after opposing comments were made on the bill.

The committee voted 5-3 in support of the legislation sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield.

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Jefferson County, voted no on the bill.

"The poll that we did when I got elected, 56 percent of labor households supported me," Wieland said. "The labor people put me here, I have family in the unions. For my district, it's the right thing to do."  

The bill would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to: join or refuse to join a union, pay fees or other charges to a union, or pay any third party or charity instead of paying a union.

Laurie, an employee of Schnuck's in St. Charles, said lawmakers should put the issue on a ballot to let Missourians decide for themselves.

"I have a voice and Right to Work will take that voice away from me and I'm not willing to give it up," Laurie said. "I think if we want this to be put out there, then it should be the voice of the people that says whether or not we go Right to Work and it should be put on a ballot, not put on a plate and given to us."

The House approved the bill in February.

If Missouri becomes a Right to Work state, it will be the nation's 26th state to adopt Right to Work legislation.

The bill now advances to the floor of the Senate, where senators have until May 15 to vote on the bill.

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