Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a law that would have severely restricted the ability of private sector labor unions to bargain with employers on behalf of their members for better wages and benefits.
After more than 1.3 million votes were cast, two-thirds of voters supported Proposition A repealing the so-called “right-to-work” law. Twenty-seven other states have implemented so-called “right-to-work laws,” which make it illegal for a unionized workplace to require all workers pay union dues in exchange for being represented in negotiations with management.
Reginald Thomas, the executive vice president of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the AFL-CIO, told union members and supporters that the vote sent a “clear message” that workers will not be silenced by politicians and corporate interests, reported the Kansas City Star.
“We will stand together,” Thomas said, “and yell louder than ever before, because our families depend on it.”
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Forty years after Missouri rejected a ballot measure to enshrine a “right-to-work” law in the state constitution, Missouri became the latest state to repeal this type of anti-union law, joining several others.
The labor unions and progressive organizations leading the campaign to repeal the anti-union law far outraised and outspent the corporate interests and conservative groups.
We Are Missouri, which opposed the law, raised more than $17 million in total contributions, and the majority of contributions came from labor unions in Missouri and across the United States. In the final week before the vote, unions and allied organizations contributed more than $933,000 to the campaign to repeal the law.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement that the results of the election represented a “true groundswell” of activism and organizing among working people.
“The defeat of this poisonous anti-worker legislation is a victory for all workers across the country,” Trumka said. “Tonight is the latest act of working people changing a rigged system that for decades has been favoring corporations, the mega wealthy, and the privileged few.”
Janelle Jones, an analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, told the Washington Post that the results of the vote could have long-term political consequences.
“We are seeing an attack on unions being sustained all over the place—the courts, private employers, the administration,” Jones said. “This vote could represent the pendulum swinging back to workers and away from corporate interests.”