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Missouri election results: Voters reject anti-union law in victory for organised labour

The 'Right to Work' law in Missouri bars unions from requiring employees to pay dues as a condition of employment

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 08 August 2018 14:04 BST
Democratic officials are relying on union members to turn out for this week's vote in Missouri's August primaries.
Democratic officials are relying on union members to turn out for this week's vote in Missouri's August primaries. (REUTERS)

Missouri voters scrapped a bill passed by the state’s Republican legislature allowing workers to opt out of union fees, in a critical primary election for Democrats.

The "Right to Work" law was overwhelmingly rejected statewide, with the vast majority of urban and rural regions alike voting “no” against the legislation. Republican officials moved a vote on the bill to the August election, expecting low voter turnout — but a nationwide effort amongst labour rights groups yielded strong showings of union workers and Democrats at the ballot. Statewide, 67 per cent of voters rejected the law.

Claire McCaskill, the state's Democratic senator, easily won her primary, along with the Republican primary candidate Josh Hawley. The two will face off in the November elections, where Ms McCaskill will likely endure her toughest battle yet to hold onto the swing seat since joining the Senate in 2007. Mr Hawley, the state's attorney general, has received the support of Donald Trump, who celebrated his victory on Twitter Tuesday night.

"Congratulations to Josh Hawley on your big Senate Primary win in Missouri," the president tweeted. "I look forward to working with you toward a big win in November. We need you in Washington!"

Before Tuesday's election, the fate of the "Right to Work" bill was considered the most crucial decisions voters would make on this month’s ballot, according to several state officials.

Jay Ashcroft, Missouri’s secretary of state, told St. Louis public radio the important ballot measure could increase voter turnout to 30 per cent — a rather small portion of the overall population, but a significant jump from prior elections.

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"My biggest concern is we’re only going to have less than a third of our registered voters show up," he said. "If you’re registered to vote, you can vote. And we need you to. Everyone who doesn't vote — we lose their wisdom and their experience. And I think the more of us we have that are trying to find the best solution, the better off we are."

However, Republican ideologies could be gaining ground after Mr Trump won the state handedly two years ago. The president tweeted an attack against Ms McCaskill last month, claiming she used a “luxurious private jet” to tour the state while endorsing Mr Hawley in the midterm elections.

"Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony!" he tweeted, adding, "Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement."

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