Voters in Missouri resoundingly rejected a measure that could have weakened union finances following a million-dollar campaign against it led by national and local labor groups, Fox News informed.
Missouri’s law against compulsory union fees was defeated Tuesday by a 2-to-1 margin, nearly a year after the measure approved by the state’s Republican governor and Legislature had been set to take effect. It was put hold after unions successfully petitioned to force a public referendum.
The election results effectively vetoed the Missouri measure and halted a string of stinging losses for organized labor. Since 2012, five other once historically strong union states had adopted right-to-work laws as Republicans gained strength in state capitols, raising the total to 27 states with such laws.
The Missouri referendum marked the first chance for voters to weigh in on union powers since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that public sector employees cannot be compelled to pay fees to unions. Missouri’s ballot measure essentially would have extended that to all private sector employees in the state.
“Working people made their voices heard at the ballot box today and overturned right to work. It’s a truly historic moment,” Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis said.
Missouri voters had last rejected right to work in 1978, when national union membership was more than double its current rate of 10.7 percent.
Business groups and conservative interest groups pledged to try again to enact it in Missouri, potentially as soon as the 2019 legislative session.
“The defeat of Proposition A is merely a minor setback on the road to providing workers with the freedom they deserve,” said Jeremy Cady, the Missouri director of Americans for Prosperity, which is part of the conservative Koch network.
At issue are so-called fair-share fees, which are less than full dues but are intended to cover unions’ nonpolitical costs such as collective bargaining. Unions say it’s fair for workers to pay the fees, because federal law requires them to represent even those employees who don’t join. But supporters of right-to-work laws counter that people should have the right to accept a job without being required to pay a union.