Missouri lawmakers are expected to debate controversial right-to-work legislation this week.
One bill would prohibit closed-union shops, in which all employees must pay fees for union representation. The Senate sponsor is Republican Luann Ridgeway of Smithville.
"It says that you can't be required as a condition of getting or keep a job to pay union dues," Ridgeway said. "You can still have a union, unions will still function as they do in many of our neighboring states. But it just says that the individual worker cannot be compelled to pay union dues as a condition of getting or keeping employment."
Ed Finklestein, publisher of the St. Louis Labor Tribune, says it's an unnecessary step -- the Supreme Court has already ruled that no one can be forced to join a union.
"What this is all about is fairness," Finklestein said. "The issue is, in a union shop the union has to represent all of the employees covered by the contract and that's under federal law. So the reality is, why should some people get the benefits of the union contract and not have to pay their fair share of supporting it?"
There are 22 right-to-work states, including neighboring Oklahoma and Kansas.
You can listen to more of Ridgeway and Finklestein's appearances today as guests on "St. Louis on the Air".