The following are the results of a survey sent to constituents of state Rep. TJ McKenna (D – 114th). While something could be said about each question, I direct you to number 5, Workforce Protection.
On the question of union dues laws, the first two responses could generally be seen as pro-union responses, while the third and fourth choices are more anti-union. If you lump them together, 50% of respondents chose the anti-union responses, and 47% chose the pro-union options. The most popular option, “employers should be required to allow employees to choose whether to join a union to bargain on their behalf or to negotiate their own compensation individually,” which is essentially what right to work laws require, was picked by a full 35% of those who returned the surveys. And you have to assume that the 15% that said “unions are an impediment” would support the right to work option, too (respondents could only pick one of the answers). Does this mean that half of the voters in the 114th district, in the heart of Jefferson County, support right to work?
Well, not quite. This is a self-selected survey, sent in by those who were motivated to read mail from their legislator, fill out the survey, and mail it back. That would suggest that the people who responded are more politically aware than the average person, who might be hard-pressed to name their representative. Now I don’t know if this survey was sent out to the entire district, or just those who went to McKenna’s web site and signed up for his newsletters. I suspect it was something closer to the latter, which further restricts the pool of potential survey takers. A proper survey would be sent out randomly to a properly selected cross-section of voters. About 1,400 people responded to the survey, which is about 4% of the approximately 36,000 people that live in the 114th (although that total includes children).
But I have to think this result has some significance in a county where Republican candidates and elected officials are unwilling to support right to work, presumably for political reasons. I can’t find county-level data on union membership, but statewide only 8.6% of wage earners in Missouri were union members in 2013. I would expect Jeffco to be above that average, but it is probably declining here, too, which would suggest that the number of people who strongly oppose right to work is also declining.
Of course, the influence of union PACs with their dollars is still strong, but perhaps supporting right to work is not quite the political suicide it is made out to be. But without better data, someone will have to prove they can win on a right to work platform to change that conventional wisdom, and so far nobody is eager to be the first to try.