'Right to Work' Bill Heads to Missouri Senate
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'Right to Work' Bill Heads to Missouri Senate

Date: March 10, 2011
By: Elizabeth Hagedorn
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 1

One of the most divisive issues between businesses and labor groups will be up for debate on Missouri Senate floor Monday.
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Wrap: Some call it "Right to Work."

Others say it's "Right to Work for Less."

The legislation would allow workers to opt out of unions and not have to pay union service fees.

Supporters say it would make Missouri more attractive to businesses.

But St. Louis Democratic Senator Robin Wright-Jones says it would actually do the opposite.

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Description: "There's nobody to come to the front of the worker to say this is what we need. There's no bargaining. There's no sit down at the table. And that's how everything is done through compromise. And we've just taken that away."

Wright-Jones says losing those fees would make unions weaker.

She says that cuts their bargaining power and would lead to lower wages.

From the state Capitol, I'm Elizabeth Hagedorn. 

As the battle in Wisconsin over union rights hits a climax, a representative from a national Right to Work group came to Missouri to lobby lawmakers.
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Wrap: The Missouri Senate will debate a bill Monday barring employers from forcing workers to pay union fees or dues.  

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president Mark Mix says letting workers opt out of unions will bring jobs to the state.

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Description: "First and foremost it's an individual freedom issue. But secondly, I think it can be demonstrated almost without any argument that freedom in the workplace translates into a better economic environment."

But critics say "Right to Work" is actually the "Right to Work for Less," saying the measure would bring lower wages for all workers.

From the state Capitol, I'm Elizabeth Hagedorn.

While protests escalate in Wisconsin over curbing union rights for public employees, lawmakers in Missouri will begin debate on a union issue proponents are calling Right to Work.
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Wrap: Nearly half of states allow workers to opt out of unions and not pay service fees.

Republicans in Missouri's Senate say they'll bring up a bill for debate Monday to join those other states.

Opponents argue it would lower wages.

But Clay County Republican Senator Luann Ridgeway says that argument is wrong.

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Description: "Are they seriously arguing that a union job is the gold standard and if you don't have that its better to be unemployed. That's basically what they're telling unemployed Missourians. That's not a fair argument."

Ridgeway says the legislation would help improve Missouri's 9.6 percent unemployment rate.

From the state Capitol, I'm Elizabeth Hagedorn.

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