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Volume XII, Number 23

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Missouri Legislature Passes Right-to-Work Law

As anticipated, the Missouri legislature has once again passed a right-to-work law. However, unlike the two prior right-to-work measures passed by the legislature but vetoed by former Gov. Jay Nixon, the version passed today will almost certainly be signed into law by newly elected Gov. Eric Greitens. When Greitens signs the law, Missouri will become the 28th right-to-work state.

The key provisions of Missouri’s new right-to-work law are as follows:

  • No employee may, as a condition of employment, be required to become or remain a member of a union.
  • No employee may, as a condition of employment, be required to pay dues or fees to a union (commonly referred to as “union security” or “union security clause”).
  • Any agreement, such as a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), that violates the law is unlawful, null and void, and of no legal effect.
  • Any person injured as a result of a violation of the law may recover damages, including attorneys’ fees.
  • The law does not apply to employees covered by the federal Railway Labor Act or to federal employees.
  • The law does not apply to a CBA entered into before the effective date of the law, but applies to any CBA upon its later renewal, extension, amendment, or modification after August 28, 2017, the effective date of the law.
  • Independent of the ramifications for unions, Missouri employers – including those that do not have a union workforce – should be aware of several important implications:

The law does not terminate an employer’s legal obligation to bargain with a union that represents an employee bargaining unit.

The law does not terminate a union’s obligation to provide fair representation to all employees in the bargaining unit it represents, including bargaining and prosecuting grievances, even for those employees who do not pay dues.

Employees in a bargaining unit who choose not to pay union dues are still covered by the CBA.

Unions may find that they actually have an easier time unionizing, at least in the short term. Many employees vote “no” simply because they don’t want to pay union dues. Unions can now tell those employees that they don’t have to pay union dues if they don’t think the union is earning its keep. Eliminating this factor can actually create challenges to avoiding organizing, because employees can take a chance on the union without any risk since they can simply choose not to pay dues.

In the short term, we also expect unions to scramble to reopen or obtain multi-year extensions of current CBAs to try to prolong the validity of their current union security clauses, which then may potentially create an opening for employers to obtain more favorable terms, locked in for years, in exchange for agreeing to the extension. While it is too soon to say precisely what the impact of the law will be, in the medium to long term, the law is expected to weaken unions in Missouri by negatively impacting their revenue stream – employee dues – which will then affect the unions’ ability to organize campaigns, prosecute grievances and arbitrations, and lobby. Ultimately, employers may even see unions simply walk away from bargaining units.

 

© Copyright 2022 Armstrong Teasdale LLP. All rights reserved National Law Review, Volume VII, Number 34
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About this Author

Jeremy M. Brenner, Labor Law Attorney, Armstrong Teasdale Law firm
Associate

Jeremy Brenner, a member of Armstrong Teasdale’s Employment & Labor and Non-Compete/Trade Secrets practice groups, combines his experience and education in human resources and law to provide clients with a unique perspective on the challenges they face in the workplace. In addition to providing guidance, he is both a trial attorney and a certified mediator who is trained to assist parties in amicably resolving disputes without resorting to the time and expense of traditional litigation.

314-342-4184
Robert A Kaiser, Employment, Labor, Attorney, Armstrong Teasdale, Law firm
Partner

Bob Kaiser is a member of the Employment and Labor practice group representing emerging and mature businesses in labor and personnel-related disputes. Because employment and labor laws and regulations continue to evolve, he deftly guides management in creating “fences” and boundaries to assess risks and decrease litigation.

A portion of Bob’s practice includes traditional labor law, a focus he has had for more than 25 years. For small- to mid-sized organizations, he handles labor union relations such as union avoidance, collective bargaining, elections, strikes, picketing and other...

314-342-4153
Daniel K. O'Toole, Litigation Attorney, Armstrong Teasdale Law Firm
Partner

Dan O’Toole, a respected leader and trial strategist, heads Armstrong Teasdale’s Litigation practice group and is a key member of the firm’s executive and management committees.

In his practice, Dan defends employers against a broad range of complaints and threats of legal action involving workplace situations. Because of his background and achievements in employment and labor law, Dan has been recognized repeatedly by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers and for the last several years was included as one of the “Top 50”...

314-552-6612
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