The passage of so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) (Prop. A) in Missouri would disproportionately hurt black workers, according to two new fact sheets from the Economic Policy Institute.
RTW laws prohibit unions from collecting any fees from nonunion members in bargaining units despite the fact that these nonmembers still receive the benefits of the union contract, including the right to have the union provide costly legal representation should a worker in the bargaining unit find it necessary to file a grievance against his or her employer.
Missouri voters will have a chance to defeat this destructive law by voting ‘NO’ on Prop. A on Aug. 7.
“Contrary to how the phrase sounds, these laws actually restrict the rights of workers by cutting the financial support going to unions, thus limiting the ability of unions to help workers bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions,” said Valeri Wilson, director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy.
“Unions have been effective at balancing the power dynamics between workers who may otherwise be marginalized and their employers,” Wilson said. “This attempt to weaken these institutions through RTW is disappointing, but not surprising.”
Black Missourians would be disproportionately harmed by the passage of Prop. A (RTW) Wilson and her research assistant Julie Wolfe found. That’s because, in Missouri:
• 13.9 percent of all black workers are unionized, compared with 10.3 percent of all white workers and 9.3 percent of all Hispanic workers.
• In the private sector alone, 10.5 percent of black workers, eight percent of white workers, and nine percent of Hispanic workers are covered by a union contract.
• Black workers in Missouri typically make $14.28 an hour, while the typical black worker in Missouri’s neighboring RTW states (Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee) make an hourly wage of $13.65 — 4.4 percent less than the typical black Missourian.
• Nationally, black workers in RTW states typically make 11.5 percent less than black workers in non-RTW states. For white and Hispanic workers, median wages in RTW states are lower than wages in non-RTW states by 15.1 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.
• Compared with Missourians of the same race or ethnicity, median white workers in neighboring RTW states earn 3.7 percent less and median Hispanic workers earn 7.4 percent less.
RTW LAWS WEAKEN UNIONS
“Evidence has shown that when RTW laws weaken unions’ ability to bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and improved working conditions, it effectively lowers the bar for nonunion employers that once had to compete with employers offering higher standards in order to attract and retain workers,” Wolfe said. “RTW is not only harmful to the working people it immediately impacts, but it ultimately hurts the economy.”