By Eli Yokley | Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY — It’s been made a priority in the Missouri House of Representatives, but State Sen. Ron Richard does not think the Senate will prioritize passing legislation to make Missouri a “right to work” state.
Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, Richard, the Senate Majority Floor Leader, said there is “a lot of talk” in the House about legislation that would prevent union membership from being a condition of employment, but believes it would be a hard sell in the Senate.
“Sen. [Rob] Mayer didn’t have much luck,” he said, referring to the former Senate President Pro Tem’s attempt to pass the bill last year. “I have other issues I want to tackle over here.”
Some of those issues also have to do with labor policy. Richard said he is in favor of two proposals making their way through the legislative process that would modify the state’s prevailing wage laws and ban union dues from being used for political purposes without the sign-off by the employee.
“I’d like to see those done before we tackled,” he said, before he would consider a “right-to-work” bill.
House Speaker Tim Jones made a similar statement late last year during a statewide bus tour. At the time, he said he would prioritize the two proposals in his chamber as a way to “skin the cat” toward “right-to-work.” Since, he has signed on to a proposal to ultimately move the legislation in his chamber even before passing the other two proposals.
“I don’t think it is an issue that Missourians and our legislature can avoid,” he said. “Why shouldn’t employees have the right and the freedom to join an organization if they want to or not? It is really hard for people to oppose that in principle.”
He said “it may be a multi-year process,” and does not know where it will end up this year, but said it is a priority in his chamber. “We’ll see where the debate goes. I need a willing partner in the Senate. If they don’t move on it, it won’t become law.”
An overflow crowd watched as the legislation was debated in a House committee last week. The legislation is still in committee.