Missouri Chamber testifies in support of right-to-work

Before a packed hearing room, Missouri Chamber Director of Legislative Affairs, Jay Atkins, testified in support of House Bill 1099, legislation to give employees the right to choose whether or not they want to be part of a labor union. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, specifies that no person can be required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of work.

A state’s labor policy is one of the top factors site selectors look to when deciding where to move or expand businesses. The more favorable a state looks to site selectors, the more jobs that state will have to offer its workers. That is the reason the Missouri Chamber strongly backs this legislation.

“It’s a matter of competition,” said Akins. “Do we want to give Missouri one of the most compelling tools to attract new jobs to our state, or are we going to allow other states to use our complacency against us? Do we want to secure the jobs that companies want to bring to our state, or do we want to let jobs go to states that are willing to make the effort to provide union choice?”

In Missouri, labor groups can negotiate on behalf of all workers — even those who are not in unions. Employees who are not union members don’t have to pay dues, but they must pay fees to cover the cost of representation — essentially tying them to the groups, even if they want no affiliation.

Without this legislation, Missouri could soon be in the minority of states that compel union fees as a condition of work in union organizations. Twenty-four states currently have right-to-work laws. In 2013, right-to-work legislation was introduced in 21 states during the 2013 legislative session, as well as in the District of Columbia and the U.S. Congress. Of the states surrounding Missouri, all but Illinois and Kentucky are right-to-work states.

Often, these right-to-work states are seeing lower unemployment levels than those with tougher labor climates. Economic development professionals say that many of the companies looking to expand in other states won’t even consider Missouri because it is not a right-to-work state.

Union membership in Missouri has been on a slow but steady decline over the past two decades, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1989, when the bureau first began collecting the data, union membership in Missouri was 15.5 percent. The number has since dropped to about 8.9 percent.

Missouri Chamber Policy Councils

Each legislative year the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry sends lobbyists to the capitol to work on an agenda set by the Missouri Chamber Policy Councils.  The policy councils, led by member volunteers, help define our policies on issues that are critical to your business or organization. The Policy councils will be meeting soon to decide on an upcoming legislative agenda for the 2013 session. The councils are divided into different topics that affect business, including Economic Development and Small Business, Education and Workforce Development, Environmental and Energy, Health Care, Taxation and Fiscal Policy, Tourism and Transportation.
Economic Development and Small Business Council
The Missouri Chamber Economic Development and Small Business Council promotes sustainable economic development opportunities for Missouri employers, both large and small. The Council advocates investment and management of those key assets necessary for continued economic well-being of Missouri, such as infrastructure, education, job training, technology, energy and financing. The Council is actively involved with economic development stakeholders within the legislature, government agencies and in the private market.
Education and Workforce Development Council
The Missouri Chamber Education and Workforce Development Council advocates for programs and policies that ensure the state has a workforce that is prepared for the future global economy. Our agenda includes initiatives that encourage Missouri students to take more rigorous classes, including math, engineering, technology and science. The Education and Workforce Development Council also ensures that business concerns are considered as education public policy is made in state government. In addition, the council encourages business participation in education matters.
Environmental and Energy Council
The Missouri Chamber Environmental and Energy Council is responsible for developing policies that promote a balance between sound management of the state’s natural resources and economic development. The council reviews proposed rules and analyzes legislation to determine effective policy. The council also discusses practical ways to ensure a positive energy future and promotes the exchange of information on economical methods of environmental control.
Health Care Council
The Missouri Chamber Health Care Council develops policy recommendations on all health care issues, including increasing access to affordable health care coverage and promoting consumer-driven health care programs. The Health Care Council monitors ongoing trends in the health care industry and promotes the development of market-driven solutions to the ongoing challenges of rising health care costs and uninsured Missourians.
Labor and Industrial Relations Council
The Labor and Industrial Relations Council advocates policy in the areas of workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, labor relations and tort reform, to name a few. Each of these areas are critical for Missouri employers, and this council has the potential to impact millions of dollars in Missouri employers’ bottom lines.
Taxation and Fiscal Policy Council
The Missouri Chamber Taxation and Fiscal Policy Council works for a tax climate that is conducive to the expansion and growth of jobs. The Taxation and Fiscal Policy Council advocates sound state and federal tax revisions, including responsible governmental spending policies. The council is involved with state agencies to guide tax rule making. In addition, the council monitors judicial action on tax policy.
Tourism Council
The Missouri Chamber Tourism Council promotes policy that leverages the many attributes of our state that attracts visitors and tourism revenue. Direct expenditures by travelers to Missouri exceeds $8.5 billion and the industry employs more than 293,000 Missourians, making the work of this council extremely important to the economic future of our state.
Transportation Council
Transportation is a critical factor in maintaining the future economic vitality of Missouri. One of Missouri’s strongest economic development tools is our central geographic location supported by a strong transportation infrastructure. The Missouri Chamber Transportation Council ensures that the voice of business and commerce is heard when transportation policy is being debated in Jefferson City.
To apply for one of the policy councils, please contact Amanda Yoder, administrative assistant to governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, at 573.634.3511 or ayoder@mochamber.com.