Missouri Right to Work Law Suspended, Likely Headed for Popular Vote

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 29, 2017

A new Missouri "right to work" law has been blocked from taking effect, following a last-ditch petition effort in opposition to the measure. The law banning mandatory union fees would have taken effect August 28.

A coalition of union members and other opponents of the right to work measure reportedly gathered more than 300,000 signatures in time to present to Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. If the signatures are deemed to be valid, voters will be given a chance to decide on the law's fate in November 2018. More than 100,000 valid signatures are needed to put the measure on the ballot.

Governor Eric Greitens had signed the bill last winter, which would have made Missouri the 27th right to work state. Senate Bill 19 would bar employers from requiring employees to:

  • Become, remain or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization; or
  • Pay dues required of labor organization members as a condition of employment.

The law also provides for injunctive relief and other monetary damages for any person injured as a result of a violation or threatened violation. But its future is now uncertain.

National labor organizations are expected to donate heavily to union attempts to block the law. Meanwhile, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce has vowed to support it. In addition, the Missouri Supreme Court could opt to intervene.

Unions often negotiate "union security clauses" in collective bargaining agreements requiring employees to either join the union after they become employed or, in the alternative, pay fees analogous to union dues. Right to work laws render these clauses unenforceable and have been on the rise in recent years.