Senate Focuses on Labor Reform
JEFFERSON CITY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017 (From Missouri Senator Will Kraus) – in last week’s column, I detailed two measures (Senate Bill 16 and Senate Bill 31) the Senate has passed as part of its efforts to address much-needed tort reform and regulatory reform in the Show-Me State. This week, I have highlighted several labor reform bills that will further help Missouri become a more attractive place to do business, primarily by loosening the grip unions have long had on our state and our hard-working citizens.
As many of you know, Missouri became the 28th Right to Work state earlier this month when the governor signed Senate Bill 19, officially ending forced unionism. For too many years, not being a Right to Work state prevented us from even being considered by businesses looking to expand or relocate their operations. Thankfully, that time is now over.
Right to Work laws help states create a more competitive business climate. And contrary to what opponents say, Right to Work laws do not just benefit businesses — they also benefit union employees, employees’ families and even the unions themselves. Since union membership is not a sure thing in Right to Work states, unions are held more accountable and must work harder to represent their members’ interests. Passing Right to Work was a major victory for worker freedom, and while it was at the top of many lawmakers’ to-do list, it is only one piece of a much larger labor reform puzzle.
Last week, the Senate passed a measure to address the unfair and discriminatory practices of union-only Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs. Union-only PLAs are requirements imposed by political subdivisions that require public construction projects to be performed solely by union contractors or by contractors who agree to labor union demands. In theory, a non-union contractor can bid on a PLA project, but that contractor is then essentially required to become a union shop for the duration of the project. Senate Bill 182 removes the 50 percent state funding threshold for political subdivisions and labor agreements and prohibits bidders from entering into those types of agreements. The measure also ensures all contractors will get a chance to bid on the project.
Missouri taxpayers deserve the best product for the best cost, but PLAs, on average, drive up the cost of construction by 18 percent. They also exclude non-union contractors and their skilled employees from being able to build projects funded by their own community’s tax dollars. In short, union-only PLAs are a detriment to the free market, and it is well past time Missouri does away with them. Senate Bill 182 has been second read in the House and is awaiting its committee assignment.
Finally, Senate floor debate is still pending on Senate Bill 21. This legislation enacts what is known as Paycheck Protection by requiring public unions to annually obtain written consent from their employees before they can withhold fees from employee paychecks. Additionally, the act requires an employee’s annual consent in order for their union to use fees and dues for political purposes.
Join the conversation and follow me on Twitter @SenWillKraus. Pease feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and will try to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at (573) 751-1464, or email at Will.Kraus@Senate.Mo.Gov.