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Missouri Voters Strike Down Right To Work

Strong union support leads to Prop A defeat by 2-to-1 vote margin

August 09, 2018
Voters in St. Louis County and across the state on Tuesday gave a dramatic thumbs down to Proposition A, which would allow private-sector workers to not pay dues to labor organizations in union shops.

Supporters of the measure argued that workers should not be coerced to pay union dues. Opponents of Prop A argued that it was a "right-to-work for less" Trojan horse designed to destroy unions in workplaces and to hobble unions as a political force both in the state and nationally.

"We are absolutely ecstatic about the vote on Prop A," said state Rep. Doug Beck, D-Affton, who campaigned against it. "A 67 percent majority against union busting should send a clear message to the lawmakers who push this over and over again that Missourians are tired of having this fight."

As with many hot-button issues, the politics on Prop A have been polarized. Most Republican legislators in the state backed the measure, while lawmakers on the Democratic side were outspoken in their opposition to the Aug. 7 ballot issue of right-to-work.

Efforts to prohibit mandatory union dues in closed shops in Missouri go back as far as 1978. In a statewide ballot that year, 60 percent of Missouri voters rejected a similar measure as residents faced on Tuesday.

"I am going to tell my colleagues in the legislature to respect the will of the people," said Beck. "Just about every county in the state defeated Prop A, so the message needs to be heard by all my colleagues."

Supporters of Prop A on Wednesday morning said that union money against Prop A from out of state made the difference. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Freedom to Work, Missourians for Worker Freedom and other pro-business groups cited millions of dollars that poured into the heated campaign.

Among a number of high-profile opponents of Prop A was actor John Goodman, who grew up in Affton. The movie and TV celebrity tackled Prop A on both radio and television advertising in the state.

Democrats like Beck were upset when the Prop A issue was placed on the Aug. 7 ballot, rather than the Nov. 6 ballot in Missouri this year.

"Democratic candidates need to embrace this victory for workers come the November elections," said Beck. "Our candidates have to be loud and clear about the legislators in their districts who did not support the livelihoods of regular people. Otherwise, this will be a lost opportunity."

Tags: Election Coverage 2018

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