St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Marick Masters on increase in Missouri union workers

Rarely does deep-red Missouri rank among the leaders in anything related to unions, but it did last year. The proportion of Missouri workers who are union members rose by 1.7 percentage points last year, to 11.1% from 9.4%, the second-biggest increase for any state. The state’s net gain of 46,000 union members ranked third behind more populous Florida and California. This is in a state that recently stopped deducting union dues from some public-sector workers’ paychecks, and where some Republicans still haven’t accepted voters’ overwhelming rejection of anti-union right-to-work legislation in 2018. Union leaders say the publicity surrounding that vote caused Missourians to think more positively about unions and may have contributed to the rise in membership.

Marick Masters, a management professor who studies unions at Wayne State University, doesn’t think Missouri labor leaders should celebrate too enthusiastically. “This could be a natural fluctuation in the numbers due to growth in employment at particular employers, and may not reflect a longer-term trend,” he said. “Labor still faces the same problem it has faced for numerous decades,” Masters adds. “It’s an uphill battle to organize.”

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