Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, proposed making Missouri the 25th right-to-work state in the country.
The measure would not require employers to force unions onto employees, or pay union dues.
Burlison testified to the House Workforce Committee Monday, presenting data showing potential job growth and wages.
“This is a fact about freedom to work states that is contrary to popular belief, is they see their union memberships going up,” Burlison said.
Rep. Michael Frame, D-Jefferson County, was a staunch defender of the unions.
“If we don’t allow your unions in the first place you will get stronger," Frame said. "I guess it’s the same idea if I cut off one of your arms, you would get stronger with the other arm."
Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis City, and Rep. Stephen Weber, D-Columbia, joined Frame in defending unions.
49th District resident Phil Todd was a member of two unions
during his professional career and supports Missouri becoming a
“Let the free-market forces decide whether or not it’s going to be a mutual benefit for the workers,” Todd said.
Greater St. Louis Labor Council President Robert Soutier gave emotionally-charged testimony.
“Everything that’s being proposed will hurt workers, it hurts the very core people that we represent,” said Soutier. “It drives wages down. Why are we interesting in attracting low wage workers to this state?”
Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, proposed an almost identical bill that would take effect by county by county instead of statewide.
Rehder said this would help counties bordering right-to-work states, using her own as an example.
“We are right on the border and so we lose business to Arkansas and this is intended to stop that leakage,” Rehder said.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.