By a greater than two to one margin, Missouri voters rejected the Right to Work Act passed early in the legislative session. The law was supported and signed by former Missouri Governor Greitens. With strong local and national union backing and a ton of dollars, the unions led the effort first to get the issue on the ballot with more than 300,000 petition signatures and then to defeat the measure soundly at the polls. The unofficial vote count is 937,241 against Right to Work and only 452,075 in favor. This is the second time in 40 years that voters have defeated Right to Work in Missouri. This defeat means that unions and private sector employers may agree to include union security and mandatory dues or agency fee provisions in collective bargaining agreements. See Right to Work Enacted in Missouri for information about the law as passed and signed.
The situation is different for public sector employers due to the recent Janus decision by the Supreme Court that holds public sector employees have a First Amendment right not to be subject to mandatory agency fees if they do not want to be union members. See Janus v. AFSCME – Mandatory Agency Fees Unconstitutional for Public Sector Unions. Moreover, Missouri has also passed public sector legislation that effectively enacts right to work for most Missouri public sector employees. It does not apply to public safety employees such as firefighters and police. This Missouri public sector law was not impacted by the election. The new Missouri law for public sector employees provides they may not be required to join the union, must sign dues authorization cards yearly and voluntarily, the unions must conduct elections every three years to show that a majority of the bargaining unit members (not just a majority of those voting) want the union to represent them and imposes a host of other restrictions on public sector employers and unions. This new Missouri public sector law becomes effective August 28, 2018.
If you have questions about what the defeat of the Right to Work law means for your company, please contact one of Spencer Fane’s Labor and Employment Attorneys.