Missouri becomes latest Right to Work battleground

The national battle between conservative groups and big labor unions is moving to Missouri as outside groups on both sides gear up for a vote that could come as early as Monday on controversial legislation that would strip unions of the power to compel workers in union shops to join.

The legislation, known as Right to Work, would allow employees to decide whether to join a union, and whether to pay union dues. Unions in the 24 states that have passed Right to Work have seen sharp drop-offs in dues-paying members after the law takes effect.

The Missouri bill would put a Right to Work proposal on the November ballot. Voters defeated a similar Right to Work measure in 1978.

But despite the fact that Republicans control a super-majority in both chambers of the Missouri legislature, the proposal did not win enough support in a test vote earlier this week to advance to the Senate. More members voted for the bill than against it, by a 78-68 margin, but Republicans didn’t meet the 82-vote threshold that represents a constitutional majority.

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