Governor Greitens signed the Missouri Right to Work Bill on February 6, 2017. See Missouri Senate Bill 19. It becomes effective on August 28, 2017 and applies to any new collective bargaining agreements or renewals, extensions, amendments, or modifications after the effective date.
As background, federal labor law governs unionization and collective bargaining for private sector employees, but specifically permits each state to adopt right to work legislation. If a state does not adopt right to work legislation, employers and unions in that state may require all employees in the bargaining unit to join the union and pay union dues (with some minor exceptions). A state that adopts right to work legislation precludes such requirements.
Missouri now becomes the 28th state to enact right to work legislation. The Missouri bill covers both private employers who are subject to federal labor law as well as Missouri public sector employers. The Missouri legislation provides that no person shall be required as a condition or continuation of employment to:
- become, remain, or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization;
- pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other similar charges however denominated of any kind or amount to a labor organization; or
- in lieu of the payments listed, pay to any charity or other third party any amount equivalent to, or on a pro-rata basis, any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges required of members of a labor organization.
Any agreements contrary to these prohibitions will be unlawful and void. Moreover, any person who violates or directs another to violate the Act may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to both injunctive relief and damages claims, including costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
The Missouri Act does not apply to employers and employees covered by the Federal Railway Labor Act, to federal employers and employees, to employers and employees on exclusive federal enclaves, to employers and employees where the Act conflicts with or is preempted by federal labor law, or to any agreement entered into before the effective date of the Act until the agreement’s renewal, extension, amendment, or modification after the effective date.
We understand one or more lawsuits are being filed to challenge the Act and that a union sponsored effort is underway to attempt to force a state-wide vote on the right to work issue.
With the new addition of Missouri, the following central/mid-west states served by the Spencer Fane Labor & Employment Group are right-to-work states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Illinois is a non-right-to-work state and Colorado is in a special class of its own in that it allows union security clauses under certain circumstances specified in the Colorado Labor Peace Act.