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      Union workers fight right-to-work law

      Legislation is moving through the State Capitol that would stop labor contracts from requiring that all employees pay union fees.

      Hundreds of union workers cheered during the Missouri Laborersâ?? Conference on the Westminster College Campus in Fulton. They say right-to-work legislation would end fair wages and good training for generations.

      Tuscumbia union worker Sam Simmons said, â??Itâ??ll have a higher death rate on jobs, lower wages across the state and less money for education.â??

      Missouri union workers said right-to-work would take away wages and benefits that workers have negotiated for years. Opponents said the proposed law would hurt communities. They said Missouri workers would earn less money and spend less at local shops, restaurants and other businesses.

      Union leaders said the right-to-work laws would make it harder for construction workers to speak up about critical issues like work place safety.

      Rocheport union worker Ian Bedell said, â??There are lots of middle class families in the state that donâ??t need right-to-work.â??

      The president of the Laborersâ?? International Union of North America energized the crowd during his speech at the conference.

      LIUNA President Terry Oâ??Sullivan said, â??The average worker in right-to-work states makes $5,300 less a year. They have a 36% higher incident of workplace death.â??

      Republican House Speaker Tim Jones said the passage of right-to-work is a top priority because it gives less power to the unions and more power to the workers. Jones said the measure would likely go before voters on a statewide ballot to get around a likely veto by Governor Jay Nixon.

      The House also approved legislation that would change how unions can collect fees.

      It would require unions to get annual written authorization to collect fees that are automatically deducted from a workerâ??s paycheck.