Last year, Kentucky became the 27th state to adopt a “right to work” law, which prohibits unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of their employment. The Koch brothers’ network of groups has high hopes that two more states will join the club this year.
At the winter meeting of the Koch seminar network in Indian Wells, Calif., Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips pointed to the expansion of right-to-work laws as an example of a “once-in-a-generation renaissance of freedom and prosperity policies that have passed into law” – a contrast to the frustrating stalemate in Washington during the Obama era.
“[Kentucky is] a state we’ve been working in as a network for years now, pointing toward a moment like that,” Phillips said. Republican Matt Bevin was a surprise winner in the 2015 gubernatorial race, and “this past year, the state house flipped to a more freedom-oriented majority, and that gave us an opportunity on the policy front to help improve people’s lives by passing right-to-work.” Federal-government statistics indicate that about 11 percent of Kentucky’s workers are members of unions.
“Something very similar, I think, is going to happen in Missouri,” Phillips said.
This week Missouri’s Senate passed a right-to-work bill, 21–12; the legislation includes a provision that would exempt current union contracts until they expire or are opened up. The state house is expected to pass a version, and GOP Governor Eric Greitens said he supports the measure. Just under 10 percent of Missouri’s workers are members of unions.
Phillips said he also has hopes that New Hampshire could join the club. Earlier this month the New Hampshire state senate voted, 12–11, to pass a right-to-work bill, and it moves now to the GOP-controlled state house. Republican governor Chris Sununu has indicated he will sign the bill if it passes. A bit more than 9 percent of New Hampshire residents are members of a union.
If the bill is adopted, New Hampshire would become the only right-to-work state in New England.