Right-to-work legislation one step closer to Missouri law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A bill to make Missouri the nation's 28th right-to-work state now sits on Governor Eric Greitens’ desk.

This comes after the Missouri House approved the proposal Thursday afternoon, which would ban union membership as a condition of employment.

After Republicans dominated state elections this fall, the party took that as a cue a majority of Missourians want to see right-to-work legislation. No one on either side of the issue was surprised Thursday when the bill finished its journey through the capitol's third floor.

"I mean, the writing was on the wall when the election happened," said IBEW Local 2 Business Manager David Heidbreder, a St. Louisan.

Heidbreder and hundreds of other laborers knew there was no way to change the minds of many Republican lawmakers when they rallied at the Capitol Thursday.

"At the end of the day, us and the companies that we contract and we work for, we all want the same thing," Heidbreder said. "We want a good job, decent pay, decent benefits, and we want to go home at the end of the day."

Republicans do not believe right-to-work will interfere with what workers like Heidbreider are used to.

"We want all workers to have good jobs, to have job security and I don't think right-to-work is in conflict with that at all," said Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin).

Dogan said he became a "yes" vote because business executives tell him they like to expand in right-to-work states.

"When you're a business leader, you have to consider your costs in terms of where you want to relocate, as well as the hassle and red tape," Dogan said.

Dogan said unions today are a shell of their former selves.

"Unions unfortunately are not doing the same things they did 100 years ago in terms of making progress and increasing salaries for our workers," Dogan said.

"We are still united and we're not going to take this lying down, no matter what they do," Heidbreder said.

Heidbreder said unions will show their strength when they fight back.

The AFL-CIO has already begun work on a 2018 ballot initiative to allow voters to repeal any right-to-work law passed.

Greitens promised to sign the bill passed Thursday extensively on the campaign trail.