Thursday, June 04, 2015
Nixon vetoes so-called right to work bill
Gov. Jay Nixon today joined workers at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 Training Facility to veto House Bill 116, saying the bill would lower wages, squeeze middle-class families, and subject businesses to criminal and unlimited civil liability.
“For generations, the ability of workers to join together and bargain collectively for fair wages and benefits has formed the foundation of the American middle-class,” said Gov. Nixon. “This extreme measure would take our state backward, squeeze the middle-class, lower wages for Missouri families, and subject businesses to criminal and unlimited civil liability. Right-to-Work is wrong for Missouri, it’s wrong for the middle-class – and it should never become law in the Show-Me State.”
The Governor highlighted the union’s new 96,000 square foot state-of-the-art Training School as an example of the benefits of a skilled, safe and productive workforce. In addition to lowering wages and reducing the availability of skilled workers, House Bill 116 would impose an arbitrary new mandate on businesses, and subject those who violate these rules to criminal and unlimited civil liability.
“In addition to denying employers the skilled workforce they need to compete, this bill represents exactly the kind of big-government overreach that proponents of this bill say they’re against,” said Gov. Nixon. “Under House Bill 116, state government would come in with a heavy-handed new mandate on employers. And if employers were to run afoul of these arbitrary new rules – they’d be subject to criminal penalties, prosecuted by local prosecutors and the attorney general, and exposed to unlimited civil liability.”
The Governor outlined three specific reasons for his veto in his veto message.
Lowering wages and squeezing the middle-class. The right to collectively bargain yields benefits for all workers. Labor organizations, through training, apprenticeships and other programs play a valuable role by providing the skilled workers that businesses need to compete in the global economy. House Bill 116 would curb the ability of labor organizations to make these critical investments. In addition, House Bill 116 would drive down wages for all workers, regardless of whether such workers are members of a labor organization. On average, workers in so-called “right to work” states make considerably less per year than workers in non-right to work states.
Heavy-handed government interference with business. At its core, a so-called “right to work” law is a government-mandated prohibition directed against an employer’s right to contract. Through this governmental interference, House Bill 116 would take away the rights of a business to decide for itself to run its business. This attack on the freedom and autonomy of Missouri employers cannot become the law of this state.
Subjecting businesses to criminal and unlimited civil liability. House Bill 116 would subject employers to state criminal prosecution and unlimited civil liability for using labor organization membership as a condition of employment. These penalty provisions were added in a Senate committee after the bill had initially passed the House. Not only would this new crime and new liability ensnare businesses that desire to require their employees be union members, it would also authorize sanctions against businesses that attempt to condition employment on an employee “refraining” from becoming a member of a labor organization.