Missouri House of Representatives held their first major public committee hearing regarding the right-to-work bill. Sponsors Holly Rehder, Bill White, Bill Lant, Rick Bratton, and Charlie Davis (all republican) made statements for the bill and then opened up the floor to public testimonies, alternating between in favor and opposed.
MO State Treasurer Eric Schmitt made the first positive testimony claiming that right-to-work states would create a lower tax burden, create more union members, and would create a better economy mirroring that of South Carolina’s which has been RTW for over seventy years.
There was a lot of tension throughout the room as Missouri citizens came to protest the bill, sporting anti-RTW t-shirts as well as signs (which were barred by Representative Rehder). Those opposed claim that a legislative decision disrupts the citizens right to vote among the people and threatens both union workers and those involved in unions. Those in favor claim that the requirement of union dues drops wages further below the minimum wage and view the bill as a constitutional freedom.
Statistics were spewed back and forth between for and against, which is to be expected. Representative Bratton responded to the statistics: “Numbers aren’t nearly as relevant as the freedom aspect” and Representative Lant said: “At least there will be jobs” which created a small uproar throughout the crowd.
The committee actually seemed rather balanced (as far as those who chose to speak) between for and against and, while public hearings are a necessity, I highly doubt representatives will be budging on their opinions regarding this issue. Given the fact that all the sponsors were republican (which I’m assuming all bills have same-party sponsors), this will not be a gray area issue and will ultimately come down to the number of republicans in the committee and the number of democrats. Currently, there are nine republicans in the Committee of Economic Development and only four democrats; therefore, even assuming that those opposed were managed to persuade 1/3 of the republicans present, it still wouldn’t be enough to prevent the bill from passing through the House.