Last night, our Missouri brothers and sisters were tweeting like gleeful bluebirds, the official Show-Me state fowl.

(I could nearly hear them. I live in deepest western Kentucky and can almost see Missouri from my house.)

Never had voters nixed a “right to work” law. Missourians did yesterday, and by a thumping margin.

All told, 937,241 voters turned thumbs down on Proposition A. Only 452,075 voted the other way.

That’s a 67.5 to 32.5 spread.

Prop A lost nearly everywhere in the home state of President Harry Truman. “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” would have been proud.

The Democrat vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a Republican measure that upheld the power of states to enact RTW laws. The GOP Congress overrode him.

Prop A lost almost everywhere—in rural and urban areas, from St. Louis all the way west to Kansas City. Only 15 of Missouri’s 114 counties, mostly in the state’s deeply conservative southwest corner, were for RTW.

In southeast Missouri, Cape Girardeau County, home of right-wing radio’s Rush Limbaugh, endorsed Prop A, but by only 127 votes.

Like in Kentucky, anti-union groups in Missouri had been pushing RTW for years. Both states went RTW in 2017 with Republican governors and Republican legislatures teaming up to pass the anti-union legislation.

But Missouri unions successfully organized a petition drive to put RTW on the ballot.

Deep-sixing RTW might have seemed like mission impossible to non-Missourians. President Trump, who is pro-RTWwon more than 57 percent of the state’s vote and carried all but three counties.

Jeff Wiggins, Kentucky State AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, wasn’t surprised that Prop A got clobbered. “There are a lot of strong labor unions in Missouri,” he said. “The working people got a chance to voice their opinion and they made it loud and clear that they didn’t want ‘right to work.'”

State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan agreed.

“‘Right to work’ laws are passed by Republican legislators,” he said. “The results in Missouri prove that when the facts about ‘right to work’ are put before the citizens for a vote, they overwhelmingly reject it.”

'Right to work' laws are passed by Republican legislators. The results in Missouri prove that when the facts about 'right to work' are put before the citizens for a vote, they overwhelmingly reject it.' – Bill Londrigan, AFL-CIO presidentClick To Tweet

Londrigan said the Missouri outcome was the second setback at the polls for RTW proponents since November, 2016, when Virginians rejected a ballot proposal that would have enshrined the state’s RTW status in the state constitution.

Meanwhile, Bluegrass State unions have sued to stop the Kentucky RTW law, arguing that the measure violates the state’s constitution. The case is before the Kentucky Supreme Court.


Cross-posted with permission from the AFL-CIO blog.

Berry Craig
Berry Craig of Mayfield is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of five books on the Civil War in Kentucky. The last one, published by the University Press of Kentucky, is Kentucky’s Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media in the Civil War. His critically-acclaimed Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase, also from the University Press, has been reprinted in paperback.