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Missouri Enacts Right to Work Law

Missouri has become the 28th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Governor Eric Greitens campaigned on promises to sign “right-to-work” law if given the opportunity and the Missouri House of Representatives gave him that opportunity by passing Senate Bill 19 (SB 19) after hours of floor debates on February 2, 2017. Governor Greitens signed SB 19 on February 6, 2017, and the new law becomes effective on August 28, 2017.

Highlights of the new law include a “grandfather” provision.

Employees Cannot be Required to Join Union, Pay Union Dues

Under Missouri’s new law, no person (including applicants and employees) can be required as a condition of employment or continuation of employment to:

  • Become, remain, or refrain from becoming a member of a labor organization;

  • Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other similar charges (of any kind or amount) to a labor organization; or

  • In lieu of the payment listed above, pay to any charity or other third party any amount equivalent to (or on a pro-rata basis) any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges required of members of a labor organization.

Union Shop Provisions are Not Permitted

Any agreement, understanding, or practice, written or oral, implied or expressed, between any labor organization and employer that violates the rights of employees as guaranteed above is unlawful, null and void, and of no legal effect.

Violations of this prohibition are subject to criminal investigation and prosecution as a class C misdemeanor. Any person injured as a result of any violation or threatened violation is entitled to injunctive relief and may recover “any and all damages of any character” resulting from such violation or threatened violation, including costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Effective Date and “Grandfather” Provision

Missouri’s right-to-work law is effective August 28, 2017, and will apply to all contracts entered into on or after that date. The law does not apply to any agreement (including a union contract) between an employer and a labor organization entered into before August 28, 2017 (those contracts are “grandfathered” outside the law), but it will apply to any such agreement upon its renewal, extension, amendment, or modification in any respect after August 28, 2017.

Exclusions

Missouri’s right-to-work law does not apply:

  • To employers and employees covered by the federal Railway Labor Act;

  • To federal employers and employees;

  • To employers and employees on exclusive federal enclaves; or

  • Where the law conflicts with or is preempted by federal law.

Employees Not Required to Remain Union Members

Once the law takes effect on August 28, 2017, current union members will have the option to not be union members. They cannot be terminated (or otherwise disciplined or retaliated against) for exercising that right.

If a union member so desires, the employee may resign his or her union membership at any time on or after August 28 by notifying the union in writing of the decision to resign the union membership effective immediately. Union members desiring to withdraw their union membership should review the union’s Constitution and other governing documents and make sure they follow proper procedures, including the proper recipient of the notification of withdrawal. After resigning, the employee is no longer subject to union rules, fines, assessments, and the like.

Employees who would like more information or have questions about their rights can contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation at (800) 336-3600.

Union Members Required to Continue Paying Dues

Although employees are not required to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of their employment following August 28, 2017, employees who elect to remain union members must continue to follow the union’s rules, including those set out in its Constitution, by-laws, and any other governing documents. If the union requires its members to pay dues, fees, or assessments, then union members must pay them.

Right-to-Work States

The 28 states with right-to-work laws are:

  1. Alabama

  2. Arizona

  3. Arkansas

  4. Florida

  5. Georgia

  6. Idaho

  7. Indiana

  8. Iowa

  9. Kansas

  10. Kentucky

  11. Louisiana

  12. Michigan

  13. Mississippi

  14. Missouri

  15. Nebraska

  16. Nevada

  17. North Carolina

  18. North Dakota

  19. Oklahoma

  20. South Carolina

  21. South Dakota

  22. Tennessee

  23. Texas

  24. Utah

  25. Virginia

  26. West Virginia

  27. Wisconsin

  28. Wyoming

In addition, New Hampshire is considering enacting right-to-work legislation.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume VII, Number 39

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About this Author

Principal

Richard L. Connors is a Principal in the Kansas City Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He counsels, advises and represents management in a wide variety of employment and labor law matters.

Mr. Connors has experience with issues involving hiring employees, discipline and discharge, separation agreements, employment discrimination, harassment, immigration worksite enforcement, affirmative action, wage & hour matters, drug testing, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act,...

913-982-5757
Brian J. Christensen, Jackson Lewis, grievances and arbitrations lawyer, union campaigns attorney
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Brian J. Christensen is the Office Managing Principal and Litigation Manager of the Kansas City Region, Kansas, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice includes representation of management in traditional labor relations matters, including collective bargaining negotiations, grievances and arbitrations, union campaigns and matters before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Mr. Christensen’s practice also includes litigation of a wide array of matters affecting his clients' business in state and federal courts. He has tried numerous lawsuits to verdict from coast to coast. His employment litigation experience includes representing employers before state and federal regulatory agencies as well as defending Title VII discrimination and retaliation cases, wage and hour collective and class actions, Family Medical Leave Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Americans with Disabilities Act cases and enforcing arbitration and employment agreements. As a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), he is uniquely suited to not only protect his clients’ interests in litigation, but to provide practical advice designed to avoid costly disputes altogether.

(913) 981-1018
Thomas Berry, Human Resources, Employment, Management Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Law firm
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Thomas E. Berry, Jr. is a Principal in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Berry’s practice is exclusively focused on representing management before state, federal or local administrative agencies as well as before both state and federal courts throughout the country. His practice is national in scope – he has represented employers in legal proceedings in over twenty different states. Mr. Berry has extensive litigation experience which permits him to effectively counsel and advise clients on a variety of employment related issues in order to ensure...

314-827-3951
Philip B. Rosen Jackson Lewis  Preventive Practices Lawyer & Collective Bargaining Attorney
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Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-...

212-545-4000
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Adam C. Doerr is an Associate in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He represents management in labor and employment matters before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators.

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