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Both Sides See Win with Right to Work Legislation

Both Democrats and Republicans are claiming victory after a vote Wednesday in the Missouri legislature.
(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) Both Democrats and Republicans are claiming victory after a vote Wednesday in the Missouri legislature.

It had to do with the 'Right to Work' legislation. A house bill would prevent workers from being forced to join unions.

There were 78 votes in the house Wednesday supporting the 'Right to Work' legislation.  Eighty-two votes were required to advance the bill to the Senate.

If eventually passed in the legislature, voters would then decide the issue in August.

While the 'Right to Work' legislation isn't making its way to the Senate after Wednesday's vote, it has one more chance.

The 78 "yes" votes in the house are just enough to declare the bill "perfected," but union workers remain optimistic.

"We view today's vote as a victory for Missouri's working families," says Spokesman for United Brotherhood of Carpenters David Wilson.  "A bi-partisan coalition stood up against national corporate interest groups that are trying to stick it to Missouri's middle class."

Union workers fear the passing of this legislation would mean lower wages and fewer benefits.

"We try to do everything we can to negotiate a fair wage and a decent benefit package so we can all take care of our families," says Wilson.  "And 'right to work' is an attack on the ability of us to do that."

Backers of the bill, however, say it would help create jobs and would give workers the freedom to choose whether to join unions and prohibit employers from requiring them to pay dues.

"What are they afraid of?" asked Republican Representative Eric Burlison.  "Giving workers a choice, giving them more options, is always a great thing."

There's debate on what effect a right to work law would have on our state's economy.

"You talk about unemployment rates, state budgets, spending, taxes and everything else," says Political Analyst Brian Calfano.  "There's no clear indication the right to work laws themselves have the positive impact proponents say they do-- on the other hand, it's not necessarily the case that it's the worst situation for wage levels the opponents of right to work say will happen."

According to MissouriNet, supporters could still find the remaining four votes needed to pass the bill on to the Senate.  The website says eleven legislators were absent for the vote and two voted "present."  Nineteen Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal.
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