To The Editor:
Missouri’s Speaker of the House, Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka), recently announced his priorities for this year’s legislative session. He indicated that Right-to-Work (Worse) would be a key part of that plan.
Right-to-Worse would allow workers in unionized facilities to avoid paying dues to cover the cost of their representation. In practical terms, these workers would receive union-negotiated benefits and representation while leaving their co-workers with the responsibility and cost of negotiating these same benefits.
A comparison could be made to the freeloader who buys a house in a subdivision knowing that the homeowners association collects dues to maintain the streets, parks, and other amenities. After our freeloading neighbor parks his beater on the street, the whole family swims in the pool and the kids take all their friends to the subdivision park, he decides that he has no responsibility to pay the dues needed to keep all these attractions in good condition.
Just as all of the neighborhood property values would decline as the streets and parks fell into disrepair because our freeloading neighbor refused to pay his dues, wages and benefits would decline in the workplace. As the “good jobs” pay less, other workplaces discover they can pay less and all workers in the state will take a pay cut. Union and nonunion workers in Right-to-Worse states earn an average of over $5,000 less annually than workers in responsible states like Missouri.
Speaker Jones contends this will help create jobs. The facts paint a different picture. When given a choice between a Right-to-Worse state and a responsible state like Missouri, GM shuttered a plant in Right-to-Worse Louisiana and moved production of the next generation of mid-sized trucks to the Wentzville Assembly Center in Missouri.
Missourians should carefully consider what they want their neighborhood to look like. Compared to responsible states like Missouri, Right-to-Worse states have lower incomes, manufacturing wages, minimum wages, worker compensation benefits, education spending per student, less patents, and fewer residents with health insurance. Right-to-Worse states do have higher poverty rates, infant mortality, on the job fatalities, dropout rates, bankruptcies, and significantly higher sales taxes.
Perhaps the Missouri Legislature and Speaker Jones should arrange their priorities to address the most important factors in attracting and retaining business instead of going back in time to dredge up policies that will continue a race to the bottom in wages, working conditions, and standards of living for all Missourians.