Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Smacks Down Anti-Union ‘Right To Work’ Bill With His Veto Pen

Jay Nixon

Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a controversial right to work bill (House Bill No. 116) on Thursday. In rejecting the legislation, Governor Nixon argued that “right to work” is a misnomer. He noted that:

Right-to-work laws create a less skilled workforce, drive down wages and directly interfere with a business owner’s right to contract.

The Governor went on to outline three specific objections to the legislation. He argued that House Bill 116 was bad for the economy, that it constituted unwarranted government interference into the operations of Missouri businesses, and that it needlessly exposed businesses to criminal prosecution and unlimited civil liability.

He concluded by stating:

I stand with the workers of Missouri and reject this wrongheaded legislation that will hurt our economy, our families and our businesses.

Had Nixon signed the bill, Missouri would have become the 26th right to work state in the country. Missouri borders six right to work states — Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The conservative Missouri legislature does not appear to have the votes to override Governor Nixon’s veto. 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate are necessary to override the veto. The legislation that reached Nixon’s desk fell short of those vote thresholds in each chamber. House Bill 116 cleared the lower chamber 92-66 and it passed in the Senate 21-13.

Some Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the anti-union legislation, including most notably, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (SD 23- St. Charles).

Governor Nixon’s veto of the right to work legislation serves as a reminder to union members and working-class voters that elections matter. The ostensibly more liberal Midwest states of Wisconsin and Michigan recently pushed right to work laws through their Republican legislatures where the GOP governors dutifully signed them.

By contrast, conservative red-leaning Missouri was unable to enact right to work legislation. The Show Me State had the presence of mind to vote in a Democratic Governor who would stand up for the working people of Missouri in the face of a hostile GOP legislature. On Thursday, Governor Nixon did just that, protecting Missouri workers and smacking down the GOP legislature with the authoritative power wielded by his veto pen.

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