So what happened? Where did our industrial base go? In all fairness, the clothing and shoe companies moved offshore to compete with cheaper imported articles. But the heavy manufacturers moved their facilities to Right to Work states. Vickers took a short hike South to Arkansas; B.F.Goodrich went to Alabama. Our foundries and machine shops either closed their doors or moved to Arkansas. The plants in Neosho and Nevada, Carthage and Webb City, Carl Junction and Lamar have either downsized to a fraction of their original selves or turned into vacant buildings and warehouses. The vocational schools that we used to depend on to train our workers have closed because there are no longer skilled jobs to go to. This is by no means just a problem in Southwest Missouri. From Kirksville to Cape Girardeau, from Hannibal to Cassville, the results are the same. Our children and grandchildren graduate from high school and college and move to Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, or some other Right to Work State where there are good jobs waiting.
In 1978 when Missouri voters turned down Right to Work at the ballot nearly 37% of the workforce in our state was unionized. Today, they barely represent 8% and last year Missouri unions lost 20,000 workers and Oklahoma Unions grew by 24,000. Unions in Right to Work states grow their numbers simply because there is industrial growth. Right to Work laws don't do away with unions, they simply give the worker a choice of joining a union, joining a competing union, or not joining at all. It is not just coincidence that big industry chooses to locate in Right to Work states. One of the main concerns that Chambers of Commerce voice is that RTW is, if not the first criteria, one of the deciding factors for location of new industrial centers. Modern industry demands an uninterrupted flow of raw materials and finished goods. The concept is called "just in time inventory" and every manufacturer has adopted the practice. RTW helps guarantee that there won't be slowdowns or work stoppages for union negotiations. It's that simple. That's the reason that our industrial base in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Illinois have disappeared. In just the last few years Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana have chosen to look to the future and encourage growth by passing RTW. We can do the same thing here in Missouri. Just imagine what 3 or 4 thousand jobs would do for our area. Now imagine that happening all over the state. The funding problems for Education, Social Services, and Transportation would simply disappear with the new taxes. Our teachers and social workers are some of the lowest paid in the nation! Our population exodus would cease and our cities and towns start to grow again. Local merchants and small businesses would prosper.
There is no other logical reason for Missouri to be stagnating. We have the best there is to offer in roads, rail, airports, river transportation, recreational opportunities, and a willing and able workforce. It's time for us to become the 26th. Right to Work state.