AUXVASSE, Mo. — While the upcoming right-to-work vote looms over Missouri, employees at the Auxvasse Dollar General store have agreed to unionize.
Late last week, a majority of Auxvasse store workers voted in favor of letting United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 represent them in bargaining with the corporation.
According to union spokesperson Collin Reischman, based at the Local 655's St. Louis office, they're the first Dollar General workers in the nation to vote for union representation.
As of Nov. 3, Dollar General operated 14,321 stores in 44 states, according to the corporate website.
Reischman said while he didn't have an exact number of employees, they voted at a 2-1 margin in favor. Dollar General did not confirm or deny that figure.
"The next step is for us and the company to get together and start bargaining a contract," Reischman said.
Following the bargaining period, employees will decide whether to accept the contract.
"If they vote to approve that contract, they become full members of (Local) 655," Reischman said.
The process got started one or two months ago, when Dollar General employees reached out to the union, he said.
While Dollar General could contest the validity pf the vote, Reischman said he'd be "shocked if they did."
Dollar General Corp. responded to questions with a written statement.
"We are very disappointed in the vote and continue to believe that a union is not in our employees' best interests," the release states. "In the coming days, we will evaluate next steps."
Since the vote, Reischman said, the union has seen an uptick in interest from other prospective members, although he declined to name specific companies.
"Here at this union and a lot of other locals at this state, we're growing," he said.
At issue is a forthcoming vote regarding a right-to-work law in Missouri, which would prohibit employees from being forced to join unions or pay union dues as a condition of employment. UFCW and other Missouri unions oppose the right-to-work laws, such as the legislation signed in February by Gov. Eric Greitens.
The union participated in the effort to gather more than 100,000 petition signatures to put right to work to a vote.
The signature drive succeeded. In November, Missourians will be asked whether they wish to keep the right-to-work law, which had been set to take effect Aug. 28 but is on hold until the vote. If voters uphold the law, Missouri will become the 28th right-to-work state.
Pro-right-to-work organizations, including the National Right to Work Committee, argue the laws "(protect) workers from the threat of being fired from their job for refusing to support a union." However, UFCW argues the laws hurt union membership and, in turn, unions' ability to bargain on behalf of employees.
"The only impact right to work would have at the end of the day is it'll hurt middle-class workers," Reischman said. "I'm extremely confident that people aren't going to vote to lower their income and quality of life."