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Proposal that moves right-to-work vote to August advances

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri union members at an anti-right to work rally in St. Charles on Oct. 4, 2016.

A House committee has passed a measure that would change the date voters would decide on whether to make Missouri a right-to-work state.

House Committee Resolution 102 would move the right-to-work referendum from the November general election to the August primary, which traditionally draws fewer voters. It’s sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston.

“I want this done,” she said. “I don’t want our jobs that we’re waiting on down in southeast Missouri to wait any longer – I want to give those business owners concrete protection that this is now in the law.”

Those businesses include a company that's considering building a steel mill near New Madrid in the Bootheel region. Rehder said it’s possible the company could pull out of the project if right-to-work is defeated at the ballot box.

“They have other options that they’re looking at,” she said. “They’ve not guaranteed us that we have it yet.”

Rehder co-sponsored the right-to-work law that was signed last year by Gov. Eric Greitens. It would bar the requirement by unions or employers that all workers in a bargaining unit have to pay dues or fees. But opponents were able to get enough petition signatures to also require approval by voters. Voting “yes” on what’s now Proposition A would make Missouri the 28th right-to-work state in the U.S.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, said in a written statement that moving the vote would be an insult to opponents of right-to-work.

“Voters know that Right-to-Work is wrong for Missouri because it will lower wages, strip workers of their rights, and harm our economy,” she said. That’s why more than 300,000 Missourians signed a referendum petition to put this question on the November ballot – either way, I am confident that the working men and women will defeat Prop A on any ballot.”

Rehder’s proposal still has to pass the full House and Senate before the 2018 regular session ends on May 18.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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