March 15, 2011 / 9:08 PM / 8 years ago

Missouri "right-to-work" bill pushed in state Senate

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - The sponsor of a bill that would make Missouri a “right-to-work” state said on Tuesday she’ll keep pushing the bill forward later this month — despite the threat of a possible veto by Governor Jay Nixon.

Republican state Sen. Luann Ridgeway said she would push the bill again once the senate reconvenes March 28 following a spring break. The bill would outlaw contracts that make union dues a condition of employment.

Those who favor the legislation argue it would make Missouri more attractive to those looking to open a business in the state. “This is a bill about jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Ridgeway.

Unions say right-to-work laws ultimately lower the wages and benefits of workers. The Missouri bill is one of a number of Republican-backed bills targeting unions across the country. Right to work states are those where it is illegal to force a worker to join a union or pay dues to the union, or both.

A three-hour debate over the bill in the Missouri Senate Monday night, before galleries packed with union supporters, ended with no vote taken.

Other states with pending bills that would limit union power include Ohio and Indiana, which have Republican majorities and governors. A bill limiting collective bargaining power for public workers passed last week in Wisconsin, where Republicans control the legislature and the governor’s office. Republicans tend to favor laws that weaken unions.

While Missouri has a Republican majority in the legislature, it has a Democratic governor. Also, at least three Missouri Republican senators oppose the bill, making it difficult to move it to the House.

Speaker of the House Steven Tilley has indicated the bill is not a priority and Nixon has said he opposes right-to-work legislation and could veto any such law passed by the Assembly.

Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Editing by Greg McCune

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