On Monday, February 6, 2017, Missouri became the 28th state in the U.S. to sign a “right-to-work” bill into law. Governor Eric Greitens signed the bill into law, and it’s scheduled to take effect in August of this year. However, hours after the governor signed the bill, state union leaders filed a referendum petition. If enough people sign the petition, the law would be frozen and it would appear on the 2018 ballot for Missourians to vote on.
The Impact of Right-to-Work Laws
Some employers and businesses use employment contracts that require an employee to pay union fees if they take the job. These contract provisions are often the result of agreements between unions and employers. While they don’t force an employee to be a part of the union, these contract provisions often lead to union membership: Most workers realize that they’re paying union dues, anyway, so they might as well be represented in the union.
Right-to-work laws do two things: They prohibit those contract provisions, and they force unions to represent all workers, even if they aren’t paying union dues.
The impact of these right-to-work laws, then, is to allow workers to freeload off of unions at their workplace – benefitting from their representation without paying union dues. As more workers choose to do this, the union crumbles from lack of funding. This is why right-to-work bills are hailed as “good for business” – without unions offering collective bargaining to workers, businesses can deal with employees individually and give them far less in wages and benefits.
Right-to-Work Laws and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is one of these benefits that can take a hit in a right-to-work state.
Workers’ compensation is an agreement that your employer will cover certain medical expenses if you get hurt on the job. In return, you agree not to sue them for your injuries.
Without collective bargaining, employers can offer less and less in workers’ compensation rights, knowing that they’re not going to have to face a general strike if they go too far.
Unions Push for Referendum
The right-to-work law that Governor Greitens signed into law on Monday doesn’t take effect until August 28. Labor unions have until then to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the bill, which would prevent it from going into effect until it was voted on in a general vote in 2018. To make this happen, unions need to get 5% of the votes from two-thirds of Missouri’s congressional districts – approximately 90,000 signatures.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Many people think that right-to-work laws help workers. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Despite their name, in reality they hurt workers and prevent them from getting the benefits that they rightfully deserve while on the job.
The news of Missouri passing a right-to-work law is disheartening for the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office: It means that workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, and throughout the rest of Missouri will have a progressively harder time getting the compensation they need to recover from a serious personal injury suffered on the job.
If you’re been hurt while on the clock, contact our attorneys online or at (816) 875-9373.