Missouri has become the 28th state to enact right-to-work legislation banning mandatory union dues. Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill into law on Feb. 6, 2017, and it will take effect on Aug. 28, 2017.
What does this mean for unionized employers? The law’s grandfather clause offers protection for existing labor contracts negotiated prior to the date the law takes effect. Collective bargaining agreements negotiated after the effective date will no longer be able to condition employment on union membership or payment of union dues. Under the law, violations could result in a misdemeanor or liability for monetary damages to workers and the agreement will be deemed void.
Supporters of right-to-work assert that it will bring more jobs to Missouri. Opponents anticipate that the law will do more harm than good.
National Right-to-Work Act
National legislation titled the National Right-to-Work Act was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 1, 2017. The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to remove language permitting union security clauses whereby employers are permitted to require that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment. Commentators have opined that although there have been attempts at similar legislation in the past, the chance of success is now more real given the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. Furthermore, while on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump endorsed the right-to-work trend.
Organized labor could take a major hit with the passage of a national right-to-work bill. Millions of workers could potentially opt out of union membership. This would mean less dues money for unions, and likely in turn, less power.