Fundamental Purpose of Missouri Right to Work Legislation Is Ensuring Equal Protection Under the Law


Helping Workers RAISE Themselves

Right to Work supporters in Missouri and across the country believe the right not to join a union deserves just as much protection under the law as the right to join. Big Labor apologists disagree -- but they are rarely honest about their stance.  Image:


Next week, National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix will visit Jefferson City to talk to a legislative panel about why Missouri should become America’s 25th state to pass a comprehensive ban on forced union dues and fees.

Mr. Mix will surely note that states prohibiting the termination of employees for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union, otherwise known as Right to Work states, typically enjoy faster growth in jobs and employee compensation (including cash, bonuses and benefits)  and have higher average per capita disposable incomes, once regional differences in cost of living are taken into account, than do forced-unionism states.

But he also won’t fail to point out that the primary reason to enact a Right to work law is that it’s simply wrong for public policy to authorize the firing of employees simply because they won’t join or bankroll a union.

Right to Work supporters consistently favor freedom of choice when it comes to union membership.  The National Right to Work Committee agrees 100% with Organized Labor that the individual worker should be free to join and pay dues to a union, regardless of what his employer thinks or what a majority of his fellow employees think.   The right to join and financially support a union is a personal choice.  Neither your employer, nor your fellow employees, nor the government should be able to punish you for making that choice.

Unfortunately, union bosses and their allies don”t believe the law should grant equal protection to employees who don’t want a union.  If a majority of your fellow employees want a union, and think you ought to pay union dues, and your employer acquiesces, you should be forced to pay dues, even if you would never voluntarily join that union.

Union officials rarely, if ever, straightforwardly explain their inconsistency.   They contend an employee should be free to pay union dues, even if a majority of his fellow employees think he shouldn’t.  But an employee shouldn’t be free to refuse to pay union dues, if a majority of his fellow employees think he should.  Why?

Instead of explaining directly, union officials insinuate that employees who don’t want a union don’t know what’s good for them, and so their decision shouldn’t be respected.

But the fact is that there are many good reasons workers might conclude that a union isn’t in their best interest.  They might want to have nothing to do with a union that takes stances on political and/or moral issues that they totally disagree with.  That is clearly workers’ constitutional prerogative.

Moreover, vast numbers of workers have ample reason to believe they are hurt economically by being unionized.  For example, an undeniable fact that Big Labor rarely talks about is that federal labor law expressly prohibits unionized employers from offering talented employees pay higher than what the union has negotiated, unless union officials expressly grant their permission.

Last June, pro-Right to Work U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) proposed an amendment that would have enabled managers of unionized companies to reward their best employees with pay above union scale, without Big Labor’s by-your-leave, as long as they could show evidence of why the employees deserved to be compensated more.  But the hierarchies of the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, and other unions lobbied fiercely against Rubio’s legislation and defeated it in a 54-45 vote.  (See the commentary from last summer linked above to learn more about this Senate showdown.)

If union officials really had workers’ best interest in mind, would they have pulled out all the stops to defeat a measure that would have allowed unionized employees to get paid more?

The people of Missouri understand that the individual worker is the best judge of what’s good for himself or herself.  Not the employer.  Not union officials.  And not the government.  That’s the primary reason why a Right to Work law is right for Missouri.