Vice President, Labor Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
February 03, 2017
Following a recent trend among Midwestern states, Missouri appears poised to become the 28th state to adopt a right-to-work law. The Missouri House of Representatives passed such a measure by a vote of 100-59 after the state Senate passed it 21-12 last week. Missouri’s new governor, Eric Greitens, reportedly has promised to sign the bill into law.
The passage of a right-to-work law in Missouri marks the latest result of last November’s elections in which politicians of a certain labor-friendly stripe lost. The Commonwealth of Kentucky saw a similar electoral shift and passed a right-to-work law less than a month ago. The Missouri legislature had considered doing so for some time, but the previous governor, Jay Nixon, consistently threatened to veto any such bill.
On cue, organized labor denounced the legislation and pleaded with Governor Greitens not to sign it, adding that if he does not “we’ll know he caved to the special interests, billionaire donors and big corporations that bankrolled his campaign.” The SEIU’s statement repeated the oft-cited accusation that right-to-work laws “will lower wages, slash benefits, and put a secure retirement out of reach” for workers.
As this blog noted after Kentucky passed its right-to-work law, however, the familiar rhetoric organized labor employs when it comes to right-to-work does not jibe with reality. Rather, right-to-work laws have been shown to have an overall positive economic impact.
Indeed, the 2015 report by NERA Economic Consulting that this blog cited took a serious look at the issue. In doing so, it evaluated numerous studies on right-to-work laws and examined the direct and indirect impact of those laws on economic growth, employment, investment, and innovation. The report presented data about economic performance in both right-to-work and non-right-to-work states and found that the evidence strongly suggests that right-to-work helps a state’s economy.
Notwithstanding economic evidence, labor unions continue to despise right-to-work laws perhaps more than anything when it comes to public policy. One therefore can reasonably expect that they will try to fight right-to-work in court, despite the fact that such laws have been consistently upheld anywhere they have been challenged.
In the end, assuming Missouri does become the next right-to-work state, the business climate will have improved considerably because of it.