Missouri Votes to Repeal GOP Attack on Unions

In another sign that the American labor movement is newly energized and emboldened in the face of attacks by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Trump administration, and Republican-controlled state legislatures, Missouri workers on Tuesday mobilized in large numbers to crush a GOP-crafted “right to work” law that would have further crippled unions in the deeply red state.

“Today Missouri gave hope to workers across the nation,” Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jake Hummel said following the historic vote, which made Missouri the first state to repeal a “right to work” law by referendum.

And Missourians did so by a huge margin: According to the Associated Press, 67 percent voted to repeal the right to work measure, which the GOP-controlled state legislature passed and then-Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law last year.

If implemented, the measure would have barred private-sector unions from collecting dues from all workers to pay for the costs of representation.

“This is a historic defeat for those corporate and political elites who believe workers should earn poverty wages and struggle with no benefits, and a major victory for every hard-working Missourian who believes that their right to affordable healthcare, better wages, and retirement security must be protected,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), said in a statement.

“Brothers and sisters, tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow we must get back to work,” declared Missouri AFL-CIO president Mike Louis in a speech following Tuesday’s victory. “Tomorrow we must continue to organize. Together, we made history. Together, we must continue to fight for working families.”

As The New Republic’s Sarah Jones pointed out, Tuesday’s vote was “a moment of truth” for Missouri’s labor movement, which worked tirelessly over the past year to compile the necessary signatures to get the right to work measure on the ballot.

“It’s the end of a hard-fought campaign for labor organizers and their allies in this conservative state. Activists for the ‘No’ campaign collected twice the required number of signatures to put the legislation to a vote,” Jones noted following labor’s victory. “At its core, the result is a sign that even voters in red states can be persuaded of the importance of organized labor to worker prosperity.”