Government workers in Missouri now have a greater voice and choice in determining who represents them and what political agendas their money does or does not fund.

Today Missouri Governor Greitens signed into law several workplace freedom solutions that are arguably the most comprehensive reforms in years. The reforms include:

  • Giving workers a choice in their union representation through recertification. Every three years, Missouri’s government unions will be recertified, meaning that workers will be able to vote on the union representing them in the workplace. This reform restores real democracy for both unions and workers.
  • Giving workers more control over the dues they pay through paycheck protection. Paycheck protection requires unions to receive annual consent to have the government deduct dues from public employee paychecks. No one should be pressured or forced to support political agendas they disagree with in order to keep their jobs. Paycheck protection stops government unions from creating confusing opt-out procedures that trap employees into paying them.
  • Increasing transparency of government union finances so that government workers can see how their union is spending their dues. For unions, this is an opportunity to earn the trust and confidence of their members.
  • Eliminating the ability for government union contracts to exist forever. Prior to this reform, government union contracts could have evergreen clauses—a loophole which allowed these contracts to be active indefinitely. By removing evergreen clauses, all terms within government union contracts will end when the contract expires. This means that if unions get a sweetheart deal from one legislature or executive, they can’t simply refuse to bargain until another union partisan takes office.

F. Vincent Vernuccio, senior policy advisor at State Policy Network, pointed out, “Before taking these steps toward greater workplace freedom, Missouri was a wild west of public sector collective bargaining. Government unions were allowed to bargain, but there was no legislative framework to ensure government workers and taxpayers were protected. Instead, most of the state’s public sector collective bargaining came from court decisions.”

Finally, the people’s elected representatives have created a lasting structure for government union negotiations that is one of the fairest and most democratic in the country for taxpayers and government workers. It also introduces new opportunities for government unions to earn their membership and improve how they serve and represent those members.

“Government union reform passed by the Missouri legislature is a win-win for government employees and taxpayers,” said Brenda Talent, CEO of the Show-Me Institute, an SPN state think tank affiliate in Missouri. “It represents a step toward good government and better, more responsive representation. These reforms will help ensure that public unions don’t take their members for granted.”

The Show-Me Institute has been one of several champions for workers’ rights in Missouri over the past several years. The Institute provided research and testimony to assist policymakers in crafting real-world, comprehensive solutions that would have immediate benefits for taxpayers and workers. To help educate the public, Show-Me Institute analysts discussed issues like union recertification, financial transparency, and paycheck protection in numerous newspapers and on several radio and TV programs.

“It’s been one of our policy goals for some time,” said Talent. “More needs to be done, but we’re delighted substantive reform has finally made it across the finish line.”

SPN worked alongside the Show-Me Institute and other Missouri groups to make the case for comprehensive union reform that provides Missouri workers with what they deserve: a voice and a choice. Thanks to an SPN poll, these groups were able to show that Missouri workers wanted this change.

Today’s reforms are just the beginning for giving Missouri’s government workers a say in union representation. The next critical step will be to educate workers so they understand how to exercise their rights. In the coming months, it will also be important to keep an eye on Missouri’s ballot measures, as a union-backed ballot measure seeks to repeal right-to-work in the state.

While Missouri’s reform package is worth celebrating, it’s not the end of this effort. This victory opens the door to further opportunities to ensure that government workers don’t have to give up their rights in order to work in public service.