* Organized labor in Missouri collected 310,000 signatures (more than three times the minimum requirement) to repeal that state’s so-called “right to work” law. The referendum was scheduled for an August vote because the GOP thought they’d have a better chance of beating it than they would in November. But labor spent millions and won the referendum 67-33. The Illinois Policy Institute’s Austin Berg tut-tuts the whole thing…
Is this a sea change for unions in the Midwest? A signal that worker freedom will forever be squashed in non-right-to-work Illinois?
In fact, the union strategy in Illinois’ southwestern neighbor should leave some rank-and-file members scratching their heads. The victory was expensive, potentially short-lived and may even cut against some of the unions’ other political priorities. […]
The union-backed We Are Missouri Coalition raised more than $16 million from labor organizations and spent nearly $7 million on ads in July alone. They outspent two opposing groups combined by a nearly 5 to 1 margin, according to the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of state filings. […]
Unfortunately for union members who saw millions of dollars in dues money flow to this fight, that gamesmanship is still very much on the table. If Missouri Republicans hold on to their supermajorities in November, which is not unlikely, a right-to-work bill will certainly bubble up yet again in 2019. […]
Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the country. Millions of union dollars that flowed to the right-to-work battle will no longer go to support her. And millions of dollars that weren’t spent trying to outmaneuver unions in that fight will flow to her opponent, Republican Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Despite the right-to-work proposition being the star of the primary election, Missouri Republicans cast about 60,000 more votes than Missouri Democrats statewide. That’s not a good sign for McCaskill.
So at the end of the day, what did union members get in exchange for millions of dollars?
An opportunity for union officials to pat themselves on the back, a weaker position in a key congressional race and a few more months, though possibly years, of compulsory dues.
Um, if Republicans cast 60,000 more votes than Democrats, that means a whole lot of rank and file Missouri Republicans sided with organized labor in the referendum. And when labor achieved the same sort of result in an Ohio “right to work” referendum, the GOP backed off their attacks on unions.
…Adding… From Austin Berg…
Hey Rich, I’m aware of the Ohio comparison and don’t take it lightly. The return of a right-to-work vote in Missouri was simply the mood among Republican operatives I spoke with for the column. This KCUR story also says as much. Re: turnout, agree to disagree on the implications for the Senate race.
This was obviously a win for Trumka and Co., but as the column says, it was expensive, potentially short-lived and could cut against other priorities. I wish all workers there had a choice on whether to fund fights like this.