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News from EPI “Right to work” is the wrong choice for Missouri: Resources on right-to-work and its potential impact on Missourians

On August 7th, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide whether to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law (RTW), approved by the state legislature last year. EPI has published a number of reports and fact sheets outlining why RTW is the wrong choice for Missouri workers.

Despite the name, RTW laws do not confer any sort of right to a job. Rather, they serve to dilute workers’ bargaining power, and thus reduce workers’ wages, by making it harder for unions to sustain themselves financially. Economic Analyst Janelle Jones and Policy Director Heidi Shierholz estimate that nearly 60,000 fewer Missourians would be covered by a union contract if RTW is implemented, which would lead to significantly lower wages. Male workers in RTW states neighboring Missouri earn 8.4 percent less, and female workers make 3.5 percent less, than their Missouri counterparts.

EPI Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy Valerie Wilson and Research Assistant Julia Wolfe found that RTW in Missouri would disproportionately hurt black workers. While all Missouri workers will likely see negative impacts, black Missourians would be disproportionately harmed because they are more likely to be covered by a union contract than other workers.

Black workers in neighboring RTW states earn less than their Missouri counterparts. Compared with Missourians of the same race or ethnicity, the median black worker in neighboring RTW states earns 4.4 percent less and the median Hispanic worker earns 7.4 percent less. The impact is even more pronounced for women of color—the median black woman in neighboring RTW states earns 6.2 percent less than her counterpart in Missouri, and the median Hispanic woman earns 12.7 percent less.

EPI experts are available for interviews on this topic.