7/12-Opponents: Right to Work Could Mean Lower Wages in Missouri

Missouri News Service

A statewide news service for Missouri

Opponents: Right to Work Could Mean Lower Wages in Missouri

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri voters have a big decision to make on Aug. 7 when they vote on Proposition A, which could establish the state as a “right to work” state. Opponents of the policy say it will have a negative impact on the availability of fair-wage jobs with benefits, and ultimately would reduce the state’s tax base. 

 On the surface, “right to work” policy sounds like something beneficial to Missouri workers, but opponents say it’s a misnomer. Unlike what its name may indicate, the policy does not aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work. On August 7th, the state’s voters will decide on Proposition A, which would establish the state as a “right to work” state, but worker advocates want voters to understand the impact. Lindsey Baker with the Missouri Budget Project explains.

  “What that does is, it effectively limits the collective power of workers to negotiate for higher wages and more benefits by limiting union resources, while at the same time it still requires those unions to extend the benefits of those negotiated contracts to those who don’t contribute financially.”

  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that wages in right-to-work states are three-percent less than those in states such as Missouri that don’t have the law, even when accounting for differences in cost of living and variances in industry. Supporters of right to work say employees have more access to jobs with the policy.

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 The institute and the Missouri Budget Project also assert that employees in right-to-work states have access to fewer benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans, since unions don’t have the resources to advocate for those benefits. Baker says lower wages and fewer benefits have a statewide impact.

  “Right-to-work legislation would further erode the middle class in Missouri by lowering wages and reducing access to affordable health insurance, but there are also some pretty serious implications for Missouri’s state budget. Lower wages in Missouri would reduce our already diminished tax base.”

  Baker adds a reduced tax base would provide less funding for public services such as education and infrastructure. Nationwide, there are 28 right-to-work states.