HR Management & Compliance

Right-to-work advocates dealt blow in Missouri

by Tammy Binford

Missouri’s new right-to-work law, which was supposed to take effect August 28, is on hold after opponents of the measure submitted petitions to put the law up for a voter referendum in November.

The state legislature passed the law, and Governor Eric Greitens signed it in February, but on August 18, unions and other opponents of the measure conducted a petition drive in an effort to put it on the November ballot.

More than 1,000 people rallied at the state capitol on August 18 and marched to the secretary of state’s office to turn in the signatures, according to an Associated Press report. The opponents said they gathered more than 300,000 signatures, some three times the number needed to put the measure on the ballot.

“The secretary of state must now determine if the signatures are valid,” Jeremy M. Brenner, an attorney with Armstrong Teasdale LLP in St. Louis, said, adding that the signatures are presumed valid until proven otherwise. “So, basically, until this is sorted out, unions can still enter into [collective bargaining agreements] that have union security clauses,” he said. If the secretary of state finds the petition valid, the law would not go into effect until after the November 2018 election, if ever.

Had the law gone into effect, it would have prevented an employee from being required to become or remain a member of a union as a condition of employment. Also, it would have prevented an employee from being required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.

The law as passed would not have terminated an employer’s legal obligation to bargain with a union representing an employee bargaining unit. Also, it would not have terminated a union’s obligation to provide fair representation to employees in such a bargaining unit. In addition, employees in a bargaining unit choosing not to pay union dues would still have been covered by the union agreement.

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