Nation’s First Hearing on Worker’s Choice Bill Happens Tuesday

Missouri Legislature considering idea first presented by Mackinac Center

The first legislative hearing on a labor reform idea first championed by the Mackinac Center will take place tomorrow, and Mackinac’s Director of Labor Policy F. Vincent Vernuccio will be there to testify.

Missouri’s House Committee on Economic Development, chaired by Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, will consider a bill to bring the nation’s first Worker’s Choice law into being. The bill, introduced by Rep. Steve Helms, R-Springfield, would allow unionized employees to opt out of union contracts and represent themselves before their employers.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy was the first organization to present the idea, suggesting it to the public and providing model legislation in a 2015 study.

Whether a state is right-to-work or not, employees in a unionized workplace must still accept the union’s representation, even if they are not union members. This forces unions to represent nonmembers and nonmembers to accept the union’s representation. Worker’s Choice is the answer to this free-rider/forced-rider problem. As a flier states:

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Worker’s Choice would end the issue of free or forced riders. Worker’s Choice would let workers who opt out of a union in a right-to-work state represent themselves before employers. It would also free unions from having to represent nonpaying workers.

Worker’s Choice gives unionized employees the choice of two options:

  1. Be a union member and accept the working conditions negotiated by the union;
  2. Leave union membership behind, negotiate for compensation and working conditions independently, and provide your own representation in grievances and other dealings. That’s what over 87 percent of workers — those without union representation — do already.

And that’s good by workers. According to a 2016 survey, over two-thirds of union members across the U.S. agree with the concept of Worker’s Choice. It would give workers the ability to say “no thanks” to unwanted representation and unions the ability to say “goodbye” to people who don’t pay them.

The bill being considered in Missouri would apply to public sector workers.

Last year in Michigan, Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, introduced House Bill 5829 to enact Worker’s Choice, but that bill has not yet been heard by a committee.

The Missouri hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

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