Missouri's Petition for Referendum May Delay Right-to-Work

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By Terry Kilroy

Missouri’s new Right-to-Work legislation, signed by Governor Eric Greitens on February 6, 2017, was scheduled to go into effect on August 28; however, labor union leaders have obtained over 300,000 signatures on a Petition, which, if validated by the Secretary of State, will force a state-wide referendum on whether the bill should become law. Since only 5 percent of registered voters in six of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts need to sign the Petition to force a referendum, it seems almost certain that enough signatures have been submitted.

Under the Missouri Constitution, once sufficient signatures are submitted to the Secretary of State, the issue must be submitted “to the people.” This means, assuming the Secretary of State validates the submitted signatures, the legislature’s Right-to-Work legislation will be “on hold” until the state-wide vote in the referendum.

The Petition states, and the Missouri Constitution provides, that the vote will occur at the next general election, which is in November, 2018. However, the legislature could move the vote to an earlier date, such as the primary election in August, 2018. Observers of organized labor further speculate that unions may initiate a second petition drive to place an amendment to the Missouri Constitution on the ballot, which could restrict the legislature from passing Right-to-Work legislation in the future.

The fight over Right-to-Work in Missouri continues.