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GOP House Members Explain Opposition to ALEC's So-Called 'Right-to-Work' Attacks

Rep. Nick King (R-Liberty):

I have knocked on thousands of doors in the 17th district over the last year. Behind hundreds of those doors I have found hard-working family men and women who belong to a union of one sort or another.
   
Ford is the most obvious group of union workers in our district. But there are also electrical workers, carpenters, pipe-fitters and many others. And so far, without exception, each of these hard-working family men and women have asked me, face-to-face, to oppose Right to Work. Not most of them, all of them. The only constituents who have asked me to support Right to Work are people who are not union members. Go figure. I suppose I will eventually talk to a union member who does not like being in a union or paying union dues, or feels they have been threatened in some way, but so far I have not found one...

I was not always opposed to Right to Work. But, as I knocked on doors, and talked to the people I represent, I learned where their hearts are and where their minds are.
   

I think that is really what our political process is all about. Listening with both ears and an open mind to the opinions of our fellow citizens. I continue to listen and encourage thoughtful dialogue. My office door is open to all. My phone and email are open. All I ask is that you be prepared to justify and back up your position. I will do the same with you.

Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City):

I voted against HB 116 [ALEC's s0-called 'right to work' bill] for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, as I met with constituents at their doorsteps throughout last year, I asked each person what issues were important to them. I heard from many working families in our district then, and since taking office, who were greatly concerned with and were against the proposed private-sector RTW legislation. So my vote against HB 116 was a vote that represented the constituents in our district.
    
Furthermore, as a conservative, I generally favor a private-sector environment in which management and labor have the freedom to establish relationships without excessive state interference.
  (HB116 affects the private sector because Missouri (like Wisconsin) is already a RTW state in the public sector.) HB 116 was particularly troubling for me in this regard because it has no prospective-application date and thus makes even existing labor contracts null and void. The legislation could violate the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from making laws that impair the obligation of contracts...
    
I am also understanding as a conservative of the concern that constituents expressed to me regarding “freeloading” that can arise under RTW. That is, in a company in which a union is the collective-bargaining agent for the employees, even an employee who doesn’t help to pay for the collective-bargaining efforts will benefit completely from those efforts and receive the same compensation and benefits as those who have contributed to the collective-bargaining activities. For example, if a non-union-dues-paying employee is fired and believes he or she has been wrongfully terminated, the union is legally obligated to represent the rights of that person just the same as it would any dues-paying employee. Under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 (which is still in effect today), no worker can be forced to join a union. However, when the Republican-controlled Congress passed the law, they recognized the unfairness of certain workers’ getting something for nothing, so the law provided that, even though workers cannot be required to join the union, they can be required to pay dues for collective-bargaining activities as if they were members. (This is similar to the legal theory undergirding the requirement to pay homeowners-associations’ fees.)
   
Finally, I understand my RTW-favoring colleagues' desire to grow the economy. Anyone who knows about my engagement in economic-development activities, or has heard me discuss the need for civil-justice reform, knows that I think we need a better business climate here in Missouri. But I wasn't convinced that making Missouri a private-sector RTW state would be the "magic bullet" to economic growth. For every statistic that purports to support that theory, there are economic studies indicating that wages and benefits go down in RTW states, which has a negative ripple effect to the rest of the economy and to state revenue...