JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – The Missouri Legislature on Wednesday gave final approval to a right-to-work law, giving another back of the hand to struggling unions.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, is expected to veto the bill, which prohibits unions from collecting fees from nonmembers.
Currently, workers at a union employer can opt out of paying dues for union membership, but may have to pay fees for collective bargaining and other services provided by the union.
Under HB 116, unions found in violation could face class C misdemeanor charges.
The House approved the bill by 92-66 vote Wednesday, sending it to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.
The Senate approved the bill Tuesday by 21-13 vote.
The only good news for unions is that the votes may not be enough to override an expected veto.
Busloads of union workers descended on the Capitol this week to try to sway the Republican-dominated Legislature. They said the law would bring lower wages and create a more dangerous work environment.
Supporters said it will help the state attract businesses – thereby increasing wages – a statement the governor rejected.
Nixon, a Democrat, released a scathing statement after the bill was passed.
“Attacking workers and weakening the middle class will not create jobs,” Nixon said.
“In fact, rolling back the rights of working people would weaken our economy by lowering wages and making it harder for middle class families to move up the economic ladder. … At a time when our economy is picking up steam and businesses are creating good jobs, this so-called Right-to-Work bill would take Missouri backwards.”
The House would need 109 votes to override a veto, the Senate would need 23.
Twenty-five states today let workers choose whether to join a union. In those states union membership and wages are lower, but employment has increased, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report.
The report said that it is not possible to determine if those rates are related to right-to-work laws.
Union membership in the U.S. workforce has declined from 33 percent in 1955 to 20.1 percent in 1983 to 11.3 in 2013, according to federal estimates.
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