Photo by Bill Rankin
Missouri’s ‘Proposition A’ Vote: What You Need To Know
By Samuel Ast
On August 7, voters in Missouri have the opportunity to cast a vote that will determine the fate of the state’s so-called “Right-to-Work” law, which was passed by the state legislature and signed into law in 2017. Proposition A, as the referendum is known, asks individuals to determine whether or not they support upholding, or overturning, this legislation. A ‘Yes’ vote would uphold the “Right-to-Work” law while a ‘No’ vote would overturn it.
Unions typically require their members to pay dues, which are then used to pay for the operating costs and official actions taken by these entities on behalf of their workers. Currently, 27 states have right-to-work laws on the books that prohibit unions from collecting these dues from their members. States who do this operate under the same right-to-work laws that Missourians will have a chance to uphold, or reject, next month.
Around 10 percent of private-sector workers, like restaurant workers or accountants, in Missouri are members of a union, along with about 20 percent of all public-sector workers, such as teachers, firefighters and the police. The state’s total percentage of union members is close to 10 percent. It is important to note that right-to-work legislation applies both to public and private union membership.
Senate Bill 19, and the campaigns surrounding the issue of Missouri’s right-to-work status have been politically fraught since the beginning. Pro-union groups, along with those dissatisfied with the Missouri legislature’s actions in 2017, decided to use the state’s initiative process to challenge the legislation, known as Senate Bill 19. In order to get Proposition A on the ballot, over 100,000 signatures were required. The petitioners came back with three times that amount in August of last year.
The vote was originally to take place in November of 2018, but the Republican leadership in the Missouri General Assembly decided to move forward that date. Greg Vonnahme, a professor of political science at UMKC, posits that the State Assembly’s decision to move the vote was “because turnout [would] be much lower and a more partisan electorate more likely to retain the legislation.”
The group that collected the signatures, known as “We Are Missouri,” has been financing efforts that advocate for a repeal of the law since it was signed by former Governor Eric Greitens. Those advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on August 7 include the organizations “Missourians for Worker Freedom” and the “Liberty Alliance.” Millions of dollars have been spent to advance both sides’ agenda.