Facts lean toward failure of Right to Work measure

Friday, July 13, 2018

Were I a betting man, I would wager that Prop A, the Right to Work proposal on the August ballot, will fail.

Thatís not necessarily the outcome I would favor. But facts are facts.

Two years ago the Missouri Legislature overwhelmingly approved a Right to Work measure that proponents said would make Missouri competitive with surrounding states who have Right to Work legislation.

Missouri is surrounded by a number of RTW states and economic developers believe that puts our state at a disadvantage.

And depending on the statistics you believe, their position is correct.

But Missouri has an initiative petition provisions that allows a measure to be put before voters if enough petition signatures are presented.

Opponents of the RTW legislation undertook a successful petition drive and voters will now decide the fate of RTW next month.

I believe the measure will fail because the opponents are better organized and much better financed than supporters.

A new campaign finance report shows that the anti-Right to Work organizers have raised over $13 million in the last reporting cycle, far outdistancing the funds raised by supporters of the measure.

In the world of politics, money goes a long way.

This measure is important to our region of the state because we are neighbors to Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky, all of which are Right to Work states.

Sikeston has lost industry to these states solely because of RTW.

But some areas of the state - particularly the urban areas - are home to huge union membership and often donít compete with RTW states.

Those urban areas will vote overwhelmingly to reject Right to Work. You can count on that.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and several pro-business groups support the measure but they lack the organization of the opponents and they lack the manpower to support the issue like the union membership.

When industry is considering locating in a region, they consider a number of factors - transportation, a qualified workforce, infrastructure costs, etc. But they also consider the costs of a union workforce and sometimes, that is the determining factor.

If you believe in polls, the current trend is strongly against the RTW measure. If you look at money spent, the trend remains against the measure. And if you look to organizations that will put boots on the ground in opposition to the proposal, the trend is against the measure.

Perhaps things will change in the next couple of weeks. But I doubt it.

A seasoned politician told me this week that if every Missourian voted on the issue, RTW would garner widespread support.

But the reality is that voter turnout will be relatively low and the outcome will be a defeat for Right to Work in Missouri.

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