Keeping Missouri Competitive with “Right to Work”

Missouri Senator Ron Richard wants Right to Work to help put Missourians back to work. Unfortunately, Big Labor Democrat Governor Jay Nixon seems more focused on getting President Obama’s job renewed than growing Missouri jobs.

From Sen. Richard’s Op-Ed in the May 2011 issue of Inside ALEC:

From the first day of the legislative session, my colleagues and I in the Missouri Senate sent a clear message that our main goal during the session is putting Missourians back to work. With 9.4 percent or more than 200,000 of workers in our state unemployed, we are willing to explore a variety of ways to stimulate job growth and attract businesses to the state.  One of these proposals is making Missouri a Right to Work state.

This legislation would increase our state’s economic attractiveness and give employees the choice of whether or not to join a union. Simply put, the legislation makes sure that Missouri employees only join a union and pay dues if they want to, rather than as a condition of getting or keeping a job.

During a Senate hearing on the bill, the committee room was packed with those wanting to testify on the issue. One of the most interesting pieces of testimony was from a site selection consultant who said that 75 percent of the manufacturers he works with prefer to be in a Right to Work state, with half of his clients refusing to consider forced union states as a future location.

These are employers with thousands of potential jobs for hard-working Missourians that are writing off Missouri immediately due to our labor laws. Between 2003 and 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, job creation in Right to Work states grew 2.5 times faster than in other states. Data also shows that unemployment is lower in the 22 states that have adopted Right to Work laws. In the last decade, those states have added 1.5 million private sector jobs, while the remaining states have lost 1.8 million jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, from 2003 to 2008 personal income levels increased by 15.8 percent in Right to Work states, compared to 9.1 percent growth in forced-union states.2

In all of these instances, Missouri is being left behind because of our labor laws. Workers are voting with their feet. Recent census results cost Missouri a congressional seat due to the fact that our population growth did not match up to other states.

That same data shows that businesses with jobs and the workers who take them are moving to states with worker protection laws. While forced-union states lost a total of nine congressional seats due to shifting populations, Right to Work states gained 11 congressional seats.

Some argue that Right to Work would result in lower wages for workers, but that doesn’t hold up when looking at the numbers. A study published in 2005 by Professor Barry W. Poulson, Ph.D. at the University of Colorado determined real disposable income in metropolitan areas in Right to Work states is higher, with nearly $4300 more in after-tax purchasing power than its counterpart in another state.3