Missouri voters blocked the state's 'right-to-work' law in perhaps the biggest electoral stunner of the night

  • Missouri voters on Tuesday struck down a right-to-work law.
  • The result represented a huge victory for the organised labour movement and a decisive blow to the agenda of the state’s majority-Republican legislature.
  • Roughly 67% voted against keeping the law, while 33% voted in favour.
  • Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO – the largest federation of unions in the US – described the result as a “truly historic moment.”

Missouri voters on Tuesday struck down a right-to-work law by a resounding margin, representing a huge victory to the organised labour movement and a decisive blow to the agenda of the state’s majority-Republican legislature.

In 2017, Missouri Republicans passed legislation to ban compulsory union fees for workers who choose not to join, which would have severely limited the influence of the organised labour movement.

Former Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill into law, but union organisers started a petition to stall its implementation, ultimately gathering enough signatures for the law to be put on hold pending a statewide referendum.

In the end, on Proposition A, roughly 67% voted against the keeping the law, while 33% voted in favour of it.

Supporters of right-to-work laws say workers shouldn’t be forced to join unions and pay membership fees. But opponents contend these fees are necessary to protect worker’s rights, especially given that federal law requires unions to represent all employees – even those who opt out of joining unions.

The Supreme Court in June ruled unions could not require public-sector employees to pay such fees. Twenty-seven states have laws permitting workers in unionized settings to choose not to join and pay membership fees.

In this context, Missouri’s union leaders were ecstatic over the referendum result on Tuesday night.

Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO – the largest federation of unions in the US – described the result as a “truly historic moment.”

“Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow we’re getting back to work. We’re going to take this energy and momentum and build more power for working people across Missouri,” Louis said.

About 8.7% of workers in Missouri are union members, compared to 10.7% of workers nationally, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The right-to-work referendum result in Missouri was also celebrated by progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I’m glad to hear Prop A was defeated tonight in Missouri. Right-to-work legislation must be defeated nationwide,” Sanders tweeted on Tuesday. “We must stand together, beat back union busters, and continue to build and grow the trade union movement in this country.”

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