Missouri legislative leaders said it would be difficult to follow the lead of Michigan lawmakers who approved a right-to-work plan Tuesday banning requirements that workers pay dues to unions for negotiating contracts and other services.
Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate said enacting their own version likely would require gubernatorial support, even with GOP supermajorities that give a unified Republican caucus the power to override vetoes. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon won a second term last month.
House Speaker Tim Jones said some of his caucus members would face a difficult vote on a right-to-work measure. For the idea to be seriously considered in Missouri, Jones said there would need to be leadership from the governor's office and agreement among the business community.
"I think we're going to require first what Michigan has, and that's a strong, conservative, Republican governor who is willing to lead on that issue," said Jones, of Eureka. "Without a governor who is willing to lead on that strong of a pro-growth issue, taking on a very entrenched status quo, the Legislature is not going to be able to fight that battle all on its own."
Jones said Missouri legislators during the 2013 session that starts Jan. 9 could consider proposals dealing with prevailing wage requirements for governmental entities in construction projects and requiring workers give permission for unions to spend their dues for political purposes.
Right-to-work legislation has been discussed in Jefferson City during recent years, but it generally has not gained significant traction.
Nixon expressed opposition to a 2011 proposal, saying he does not think "backing up on worker protections" is necessary to improve Missouri's economy.
Attention to labor policies surfaced most recently after Republicans in Michigan moved quickly to introduce and push through right-to-work legislation. The Michigan Legislature passed two bills Tuesday, with one focused on private-sector workers and the other dealing with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously was a business executive, is expected to sign legislation that would make his state the 24th with right-to-work laws.
Missouri Senate Republican leader Tom Dempsey said he believes a right-to-work law would help Missouri compete for manufacturing jobs and that many GOP lawmakers would support the legislation.
"But Gov. Nixon has made his position clear, and the votes are not there to override the objections of the governor," said Dempsey, R-St. Charles.