Letter to the Editor

Protect the right to organize

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Dear Editor:

Let’s be clear: Right to work is wrong. The PRO Act will wipe it off the map.

Nearly 60 million people say they would join a union today if they could. The problem? Union-busters, Big Business and woefully outdated laws continue to undermine the right to collectively bargain.

Just take “right to work” laws, for example. Across the country, anti-worker legislators are relentlessly fighting to pass right to work, which has a more than 70-year track record of lowering wages, reducing benefits and making workplaces more dangerous. Right here in Missouri, certain legislators in Jefferson City are trying to revive a “right to work” effort that was rejected by over 67% of voters in 2018.

Right to work is a Jim Crow relic that was specifically designed to keep White and Black workers apart, playing on our worst fears to keep working people divided, poor and weak. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called it a false slogan, designed to rob us of our job rights and our civil rights.

Here are the results: On average, workers in states with right to work laws make nearly $9,000 less per year than workers in states without these laws ($50,174 compared with $59,163). (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, ​data extracted on Dec. 3, 2020

In 2019, 24% of jobs in right to work states were in low-wage occupations, compared to just 14.5% of jobs in other states. (Prosperity Now Scorecard, Low Wage Jobs, 2019 data.)

The rate of workplace deaths is 37% higher in states with right to work laws. (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019.)

But now we have a chance to put right to work where it belongs — in the trash bin of history, with the poll tax and separate but equal doctrine.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would override these laws and strike a major victory for civil rights as our country demands racial and economic justice.

The PRO Act was passed by the House last year but was blocked in the Senate. This year, we have another chance to make history. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and end right to work for good.


Mark Baker, president

Southeast Missouri Central Labor Council