Advocates for right-to-work laws have secured their second major victory of the year after Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) signed a right-to-work bill (MO SB 19) into law this morning. The legislation makes Missouri the 28th right-to-work state in the country. The Missouri law quickly follows Kentucky's passage of a right-to-work law. After securing a majority in the House of Representatives, Kentucky lawmakers passed a right-to-work statute during the first week of January — securing the American South as a right-to-work stronghold.
Right-to-work laws allow employees to decide whether to join or financially support a labor union. Proponents of right-to-work laws argue that right-to-work states attract more jobs than states that are not right-to-work. Opponents argue that allowing workers to opt out of paying union dues while still benefiting from union collective bargaining and representation is unfair.
In Missouri, Greitens replaced term-limited governor and right-to-work opponent Jay Nixon (D) this year. Nixon had vetoed multiple right-to-work bills passed by the legislature over his two terms in the governor's mansion. But even before the legislature passed the new right-to-work law last week, the Missouri chapter of the AFL-CIO was already preparing to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to repeal it.
In the last several years, labor unions lost battles in the Midwest when Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin all became right-to-work states. Last year, West Virginia became the 26th right-to-work state.
Right-to-work advocates and opponents now turn to New Hampshire. After last November's elections, Republicans took over the governorship of New Hampshire for the first time in over a decade. Governor Chris Sununu (R) replaced Maggie Hassan (D) and is working with a Republican-controlled legislature. But even with the traditionally right-to-work allied GOP in control of both houses of the legislature, a push to get a right-to-work bill on Sununu's desk this year is not guaranteed.
On January 19, the New Hampshire Senate passed a right-to-work bill with a narrow 12-11 vote. If the Republican-controlled House passes the bill, Sununu has promised to sign it into law. New Hampshire would become the first right-to-work state in union-friendly New England.