Missouri Supreme Court sides with unions – again – over RTW ballot initiative

RTW IS WRONG: That was the message delivered by thousands of union members and working Missourians who turned out in Jefferson City Aug. 18 to turn in 310,567 signatures on a Citizens’ Veto referendum petition to place Missouri’s anti-union, anti-worker RTW law on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide. The Missouri Supreme Court on Oct. 7 threw out a challenge, backed by the National Right To Work Foundation, challenging the initiative’s ballot language. – Labor Tribune photo

A victory for middle class, hard-working Missourians


Jefferson City – A desperate, last-ditch effort funded by out-of-state billionaires to deny Missourians the right to vote on the Citizens’ Veto referendum to repeal Missouri’s anti-union, anti-worker “right-to-work” law has been rejected by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The court ruled Oct. 7 that it would not take up an appeal of a lower court ruling that paved the way for workers to place a question on the November 2018 ballot asking whether voters want the new law.

“This court ruling is a victory for the middle class and hard-working Missourians all across the state,” Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said. “It is unfortunate that politicians in Jefferson City, and their billionaire buddies, are trying to subvert the will of the people, by rewarding their greedy political donors.

“It is time for politicians to listen to their constituents and allow the democratic process to play out,” Louis said. “It is time for the people to have their voices heard and for the politicians to listen.”

So-called “right-to-work” (RTW) outlaws paying union dues or fees by banning union-represented businesses from negotiating labor contracts that assure workers will either pay dues or a smaller “fair share” fee to cover the union’s cost of bargaining and representation. The idea is to financially starve unions, which, by federal law, have to represent all workers in a union shop whether they pay dues or not, thereby limiting the union’s ability to negotiate and represent workers.


The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature rushed through “right-to-work” legislation earlier this year and Gov. Eric Greitens, who had campaigned on the issue, eagerly signed it into law.

The Missouri AFL-CIO and state chapter of the NAACP immediately filed an initiative petition to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot for voters to decide.

Union members and working family volunteers with We Are Missouri, collected 310,567 signatures – roughly three times what was needed – to place the measure on the ballot.

“Right-to-work” supporters, backed by the National Right to Work Foundation, challenged the Citizen’s Veto initiative ballot language in court, alleging that the wording, approved by Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley, was riddled with “embarrassing” grammatical errors and could be confusing to voters who might not realize they were voting to overturn an existing law.

The justices of the Supreme Court found otherwise.


“ ‘Right-to-work’ is wrong for Missouri,” Louis said. “It is a ploy orchestrated by greedy CEOs that will lead to lower wages, a decline in benefits, and an increase in workplace injuries and deaths for all of Missouri working families. It gives government the ability to reach into the rights of employers to run their businesses as they see fit, something that the far right wing contradicts themselves on.”


The AFL-CIO is hosting Common Sense Economics educational programs on “right-to-work” throughout the state. 

We Are Missouri’s, the campaign to defeat the anti-worker law, has also launched $8 for 8 campaign to help to fund the public education campaign to defeat RTW at the ballot box.

You can support their efforts by mailing a check to:

We Are Missouri
227 Jefferson St.
Jefferson City, MO 65101

You can also contribute by visiting wearemo.org and clicking on the red “Donate” button in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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