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Missouri Becomes 28th State to Pass a Right-to Work Law

Missouri Becomes 28th State to Pass a Right-to Work Law

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed legislation into law on February 6, 2017, making Missouri the 28th right-to-work state.  The law prohibits employers from requiring employees to join a labor organization and from requiring employees to pay labor organization dues.

Right-to-work laws vary by state, but they generally bar collective bargaining agreements that require workers to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. Initially, it is expected that labor unions will see an increase in members since the law allows employees to join a union without having to pay dues. Eventually, however, unions may begin to fail as their main source of revenue is cut off by the law.

Almost immediately after Governor Greitens signed the law, organized labor quickly sprang into action.  The Missouri branch of the AFL-CIO filed a referendum in an attempt to delay the law until voters can weigh in on it.  The law is scheduled to take effect in August, but if enough signatures are collected by then, it will be placed on the ballot in 2018 for voters to decide.

Under Missouri’s right-to-work law:

  • Employees cannot be required to join a union or to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.
  • Any agreement that violates the law is unlawful, null and void, and of no legal effect. If a violation of the law occurs, any person injured may recover damages, including attorney’s fees.

The law does not:

  • Apply to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) entered into before the effective date of the law, but will apply to that CBA upon any renewals, extensions, modifications or amendments made after the effective date of the law.
  • Apply to employees covered by the federal Railway Labor Act or to federal employees.
  • Terminate an employer’s legal obligation to bargain with a union that represents an employee bargaining unit
  • Terminate a union’s obligation to provide fair representation to all employees in the bargaining unit it represents, even those who do not pay dues.

Missouri is the 28th state to enact a right-to-work law, but the growing trend of states going right-to-work may be seen nationally in the near future. Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill last month that would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to let union members across the country opt out of paying mandatory dues. The National Right-to-Work Act would remove language from the NLRA and RLA that allows unions to require membership as a condition of employment.  No action has yet been taken on this bill.

Brody and Associates regularly advises employers on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.