Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) on Monday signed legislation that will allow workers to opt out of joining a union, the latest victory for business groups in their nationwide war with labor unions.
Greitens, in office just a few weeks, signed the so-called right-to-work bill at an abandoned warehouse in Springfield, Mo., Monday morning. He plans ceremonial signings in Poplar Bluff and Jefferson City later today.
Labor groups protested at the state capitol last week, after the Republican-led state legislature passed right-to-work legislation. But Greitens kept his promise made on the campaign trail to sign the bill into law.
“The states that have passed [right-to-work laws] in the last few years have shown unemployment drop considerably, so I think this is a big deal for all Missouri working families,” said state Rep. Holly Rehder (R), the bill’s lead sponsor. “I think that it’s not a silver bullet, but it’s definitely a tool in our tool box now, and we can move on to some other things to make Missouri even more business-friendly.”
The new law is the culmination of decades of work by business groups and Missouri Republicans. Though the GOP has controlled the state legislature for years, efforts to pass right-to-work legislation were thwarted by former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who vetoed several versions.
Nixon faced term limits this year, and Greitens came from behind to beat his Democratic rival in November.
Union groups plan to use a ballot measure to reverse the new law. The state AFL-CIO filed several petitions with the secretary of state’s office in December for a possible amendment to the state constitution that would allow unions to require workers to pay dues.
“Missouri is on a path that is dangerous to the well-being of working families and our neighborhoods as a whole, and for what? To fulfill the agenda of out-of-state corporations that are putting unnecessary profits above the human needs of the neighborhoods where they do business,” Missouri AFL-CIO president Mike Louis told a union news service.
The measure makes Missouri the 28th right-to-work state in the nation. Kentucky legislators passed a similar law earlier this year, and legislators in New Hampshire are working on their own version.