February 10, 2017
Missouri became the 28th right-to-work state this week, adopting legislation giving union-represented workers the choice to refrain from paying union dues and joining Kentucky as one of the two states to have adopted such legislation this year. Proponents of the measure argued that Missouri was losing economic ground to neighboring states who, with the exception of Illinois, are all right-to-work states. Recently-elected Republican Governor Eric Greitens made establishing Missouri's right-to-work status a campaign promise, drawing heavy opposition from union groups but paving the way for the legislation, which had been vetoed by the previous governor. Gov. Greitens remarked, "This sends a really strong signal to the rest of the country that Missouri is open for business."
"Opportunity to Work" (California): Following the adoption of a similar measure in San Jose, the California legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit businesses with 10 or more employees from using temporary and other workers supplied by third parties, including staffing firms, unless such businesses first offer additional work to their existing nonexempt employees. Employers would not have to offer overtime hours to such employees, though documentation proving that additional work hours were offered before using a staffing firm would be required. While proponents of the measure claim such legislation allows certain workers to work full time, business groups have pointed out that it disadvantages other workers who are unable to work full time, and reduces the number of available jobs.
Wage Equity (Philadelphia): A bill intended to narrow the wage gap between men and women by prohibiting all Philadelphia employers from discussing salary history with prospective employees has been signed into law and will go into effect May 23 of this year. Modeled on similar legislation passed last year in Massachusetts, the measure specifically prohibits employers from relying on previous wages of a prospective employee in determining wages; requiring such information from a prospective employee; conditioning consideration, an interview, or employment on it; or retaliating based on not disclosing it. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania State Senate is considering a bill that would effectively overturn the Philadelphia law and preempt any other local ordinances like it proposed in the state.Paid Leave (Vermont): Republican Governor Phil Scott has promised to veto a paid family leave proposal being considered in the state legislature on the grounds "it's going to raise taxes and fees." The legislation would provide Vermonters up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and be funded by a 0.93 percent payroll tax.