JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Republican lawmakers plan to pursue numerous other labor-related bills during the final three months of the legislative session, even after passing a bill banning mandatory union fees.
When Republican Gov. Eric Greitens was inaugurated in January, it opened the floodgates for GOP-backed bills dealing with unions that faced vetoes under his Democratic predecessor, Jay Nixon. Greitens on Monday signed a so-called right to work measure that Nixon vetoed in 2015.
Top bills still pending in the Republican-led Legislature range from proposed changes to the way minimum-wage requirements are calculated for public works projects to a ban on automatic paycheck-withdrawals for union dues without annual permission.
During his State of the State address last month, Greitens called on lawmakers to repeal the state's law on prevailing wages. Those are minimum wages required to pay public construction workers, calculated for each trade on a county-by-county basis.
The wage is currently based on voluntary wage surveys submitted by contractors performing work in a given county, but when no wages are reported, the collective bargaining rate for that trade is used.
A bill by Republican Sen. Dan Brown, who sponsored the right-to-work bill lawmakers sent to the governor last week, would end that system.
Brown said Friday that doing so could mean lowering wages for public projects and cutting costs. He said the goal is to increase construction and spur job growth.
Brown said supporters could face more pushback on the proposal than on right to work, which passed within the first month of session.
"The labor unions had resolved themselves to the fact that we were going to do right to work," Brown said. "They will fight a lot harder against prevailing wage."
Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh told reporters after right to work passed the House on Thursday that she's now most concerned about the pending prevailing-wage proposals.
"I hope to work with the current Legislature to come up with a compromise that would be good for all of us," said Walsh, a retired union member.
Republican backers this session revived proposals to require public workers to opt-in to have dues automatically taken out of their paychecks. Bills proposed in the House and Senate would mandate annual, written consent from workers to participate instead of an opt-out system for paycheck withholdings. House members debated the proposal Monday, and another bill is awaiting debate in the Senate.
Supporters call the policy "paycheck protection" and say it will make it easier for workers to leave unions if they don't feel they're providing good services. Opponents say it's an attempt to weaken unions in order to shift power from workers to employers and would add burdensome regulations.
The Republican-led Legislature sent a similar bill in 2016 to the desk of Nixon, a former union worker who vetoed it. Missouri senators fell one vote short of overriding his veto, but they likely won't need as many supporters with Greitens in the governor's mansion.
STRIKES, UNION CERTIFICATION AND OTHER REGULATIONS
A bill by Republican Sen. Bob Onder would require more financial reporting from public labor unions, which would be considered public records. His bill and other proposals would also require worker votes to recertify unions yearly or every two years. Another bill from Onder would extend the state's current ban on required union agreements for public construction projects more than half-funded by the state. Onder's proposal would expand that ban to all public works projects, including for cities and counties. Senators debated the bill Monday.