A Brief Overview of Right-to-Work Laws
Most states with so-called right-to-work laws on the books use the following language in their statutes (or something close to it):
"No person shall be denied employment on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union."
While this language is pretty straightforward, what these laws technically do is prohibit union security agreements. These are contracts between management (employers) and unions (who represent employees) that determine to what extent employees may be compelled to join a union -- which already is governed largely by federal law -- or pay "in kind" fees to cover benefits still granted to non-union employees.
If you wanted to join a construction company as a roofer but didn't want to join the roofers' union, then this law would allow the individual to do so without violating an agreement or having to pay monthly dues.
The Heated Debate Over Right-to-Work Laws
Unionized workplaces in states that have passed these laws are required to extend the same compensation package (and even offer union representation) to workers who refuse to join the union. Since those who don't join are not required to pay dues, thus weakening the union's ability to organize and remain politically active, critics say their main goal is to suppress union membership.
However, proponents of these laws counter that if someone chooses not to join a union (which is a federally protected right) they should not have to pay a monthly in-kind payment to the union. And since many of these unions represent public employees, supporters of right-to-work laws believe it creates a conflict of interest.
How Federal Labor Law and Right-to-Work Laws Intersect
The National Labor Relation Board provides detailed information about regulations and procedures pertaining to labor unions. It's important to note that even if a state has not passed a right-to-work law, it is still illegal under federal law for employers to threaten employees who express an interest in joining or forming a union or to promise certain benefits to those who refuse to join a union.
Below you will find links to related sources, many of them addressing union rights and responsibilities. See FindLaw's Unions section to learn more.
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Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Missouri Right to Work Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help from a Missouri Labor Law Attorney
It's not always easy figuring out what your rights and obligations are as an employee in Missouri, whether you're seeking information about labor unions or looking into overtime pay. Some questions are best left to the experts. Call a Missouri labor law attorney if you have more questions or need legal representation.
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