Missouri Supreme Court overturns HB 1413 and affirms the constitutional right to join and maintain union membership without politically motivated interference from the Missouri legislature.
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Today, in a five to two decision, the Missouri Supreme Court held that House Bill 1413 (HB 1413), enacted by the Missouri Legislature in 2018, is unconstitutional. The ruling affirms teachers and other public-sector employees' constitutional right to engage in collective bargaining and maintain union membership free of politically motivated interference.
HB 1413 was part of a slew of unpopular attacks on union members signed into law by the then-governor Eric Greitens only hours before resigning. HB 1413 prohibited bargaining over most working conditions, allowed employers to change contracts unilaterally, stripped public employees of their first-amendment rights to advocate about workplace and educational policies, and created unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to collective bargaining.
"Today's ruling affirms the constitutional right of teachers, nurses, and public sector workers to participate in their union, free of politically motivated interference," says Phil Murray, a classroom teacher and president of the Missouri National Education Association. "The attacks on educators, nurses, and public employees must stop. HB 1413 attempted to silence the voice of educators advocating for their students, coworkers, and community. Missouri educators and public employees are some of the lowest paid in the country. It is time to stop the politically motivated attacks and get to work on providing the resources students, educators, and Missouri's public employees need."
The Supreme Court’s majority decision recognizes that Article I, Section 29 of Missouri’s Constitution guarantees to educators and public-sector workers the constitutional right to join and maintain union membership and meaningfully bargain about terms and conditions of their employment without political interference and burdensome regulation. Missouri is one of only four states that expressly protects the right of collective bargaining in its state constitution.
Judge Mary R. Russell, writing for the majority, stated: “[T}he party challenging the constitutional validity of the statute must overcome the presumption the statute has a rational basis “by a clear showing of arbitrariness and irrationality. . . The Labor Unions have met that burden.” Judge Russell also noted that: “The purpose of Article I, Section 29 is to ‘protect employees against legislation or acts which prevent or interfere with organization and choice of representatives for the purposes of bargaining collectively.”
Across Missouri, educators and other public employees welcomed the news:
Carmen Hill, a Nurse in St. Louis Public Schools: "As a school nurse, the health of students is at the center of every decision I make. Our union helps me advocate for the safety of students and educators. I am relieved the court upheld the right to join a union and advocate for our students without interference from politicians or special interests."
Monica Jefferson, a teacher in the Special School District of St. Louis County: "HB 1413 had one goal – to silence educators and make it more difficult for us to advocate for our students and colleagues. Teachers are most effective when we can work together and advocate for equitable treatment and resources for students. I hope politicians will focus on helping Missouri recover from the pandemic rather than attack middle-class families.
Kathy Steinhoff, a teacher in Columbia Public Schools: "HB 1413's only goal is to make it more difficult for educators to stand up for students and advocate for our colleagues. The court recognized it as the politically motivated attack it was and acted to protect our constitutional rights."
Sara Schofield, a teacher in Springfield Public Schools: "HB 1413 sought to disrupt and interfere with our ability to work together and advocate for the safety of our students and coworkers. It is time to move past these politically motivated attacks and focus on supporting the educators and public employees who provide vital public services.
Paul Guess, a teacher in North Kansas City: "HB 1413 was a bill motivated by politics not the best interests of students, educators, or middle-class families. The Supreme Court has now twice ruled educators and public-sector employees have the right to participate and join a union without interference from politicians in Jefferson City. In 2020, the Supreme Court struck down one provision of HB 1413 that prohibited public employees from picketing. Now the Court has struck down HB 1413 entirely. Instead of tearing down educators and public workers, it's time politicians focus on supporting our students, schools, and vital public services."
Eric Simmons, a classroom teacher in the St. Joseph Public Schools: "HB 1413 sought to interfere with the right of educators to work together to better our schools for students and coworkers. I am gratified the Supreme Court of Missouri upheld our constitutional right to join with my coworkers and improve our local schools."
Full text of the ruling at this LINK.
From the Missouri National Education Association
1810 E. Elm St., Jefferson City, MO 65101
For further information:
Mark Jones, MNEA Communications Director
Mobile: (573) 508-8528
The 32,000-member Missouri NEA represents teachers, education support professionals, college faculty, retired teachers and students studying to be teachers in school districts and on college campuses throughout the state. It is the Missouri affiliate of the 3 million-member National Education Association.