Working people in Missouri won big Tuesday when they voted by a roughly 2-to-1 margin to stave off corporate-backed attempts to impose so-called “right to work” for private-sector workers law throughout the state.
The effort to pit private-sector workers against each other and drive down wages for all employees was defeated after working people, together with their unions, organized and submitted approximately triple the number of signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot.
The ensuing vote was a resounding rejection of “right to work” by Missourians. In “right to work” states, wages for all workers, union and non-union workers alike, are more than $1,500 less annually compared to workers in other states.
The vote in Missouri is just the latest sign that America is experiencing an ideological sea change when it comes to support for unions.
According to public polling from Gallup and Pew, unions are enjoying their highest public support in a generation. While unions face unprecedented attacks from corporate special interests, billionaires and right-wing politicians are working to rig our economy and democracy in their own favor against working families. Nearly two-thirds of American voters support unions and most Americans would like to see the labor movement have greater influence in our country, not lesser.
What happened in Missouri also shows how out of touch the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 – which made the public sector “right to work” nationwide – is with the American public’s views on labor and worker rights.
Even in states that were already “right to work” prior to the Janus decision, working people and their unions showed what they can achieve for entire communities.
In West Virginia, and right-to-work states Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona, union teachers, support staff and other public service members received overwhelming public support for taking bold action and staging school walkouts that led to vast improvements for teachers, schools and students.
Despite unprecedented attacks and repeated attempts to further rig the rules of our democracy and economy against working people, unions are fighting back. The corporate interests behind the Janus case and the right-to-work proposal in Missouri have overplayed their hand. Such efforts are backfiring and galvanizing working people. Union members aren’t abandoning their unions are right-wing groups hope Union members are fired up and, increasingly, the rest of America is with us.