From [HERE] Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a bill [text] into law on Monday, making Missouri the most recent right to work state. The law, which will go into effect August 28, prevents employers from requiring union membership or dues to support a union as a condition of employment, making it a misdemeanor to do so. Missouri will become the twenty-eighth state to have right to work legislation when the law goes into effect. Greitens signed the bill just weeks into his first term. Former governor Jay Nixon vetoed [St. Louis Post-Dispatch report] such a bill in 2015.
The Missouri branch of the labor union the AFL-CIO issued vowed to fight the measure, filing a referendum [Kansas City Star report] to overturn it. Right to work laws have become more prevalent across the country in recent years. Earlier this month the Kentucky House of Representatives advanced a bill [JURIST report] that would allow workers to avoid paying dues at union workplaces. The West Virginia legislature passed the WV Workplace Freedom Act in February 2016 [JURIST report], overruling a veto by the Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin the day before. West Virginia became the twenty-sixth state in the country with a right to work law. In May the Wisconsin Court of Appeals stayed [JURIST report] a lower court's decision striking down Wisconsin's "right to work" law, thus reinstating it at least for the time being.
While it is an effective political slogan, the phrase "right-to-work" is a misnomer because the lack of such a law does not deprive anyone of the right to work; a right-to-work law simply "gives employees the right to be free riders—to benefit from collective bargaining without paying for it". Under labor laws in the United States, the union as the exclusive collective bargaining agent has a duty of fair representation for all persons in the bargaining unit, including those who choose not to be members and pay dues. Thus, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States permitted agency fees so that employees in the public sector could be required to pay for the costs of representation, even as they opted not to be a member. The right to challenge the fees must include the right to have it heard by an impartial fact finder.
Freedom of contract and association
Opponents argue that right-to-work laws restrict freedom of association, and limit the sorts of agreements individuals acting collectively can make with their employer, by prohibiting workers and employers from agreeing to contracts that include "fair share fees". This creates a free rider problem among non-union employees who find the union contract beneficial. Thus, union members may end up subsidizing non-union members. Moreover, American law imposes a duty of fair representation on unions; consequently non-members in right to work states can and do force unions to provide without compensation grievance services that are paid for by union members. Hence right-to-work laws are not neutral, but rather impose an active and artificial burden on labor unions.
In December 2012, libertarian writer J.D. Tuccille, in Reason magazine, wrote: "I consider the restrictions right-to-work laws impose on bargaining between unions and businesses to violate freedom of contract and association. ... I'm disappointed that the state has, once again, inserted itself into the marketplace to place its thumb on the scale in the never-ending game of playing business and labor off against one another. ... This is not to say that unions are always good. It means that, when the state isn't involved, they're private organizations that can offer value to their members."
In the early development of the Right to Work policy segregationist sentiment was used as an argument, as many people in the south felt that it was wrong for Blacks and Whites to belong to the same unions. Vance Muse, one of the early developers of the Right to Work philosophy in Texas used this type of argument in the development of anti-union laws in Texas in the 1940s. [MORE]