‘State-of-the-Art’ Steel Heads to West Virginia

Nucor expects its new steel mill in Right to Work West Virginia to be up and running by 2024. (Credit: Nucor)

Right to Work Law Is Invigorating Mountain State Job Market

In April 2020, the West Virginia Supreme Court halted Big Labor bosses’ four-year legal crusade to judicially overturn the Right to Work law adopted by Mountain State lawmakers in early 2016.

All five justices who participated in the case reaffirmed that no worker in the Mountain State may be forced to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Since the state Supreme Court’s ruling in Morrisey v. West Virginia AFL-CIO gave job creators confidence that the state’s Right to Work law is safe for the time being from Big Labor legal attacks, the evidence that the state economy is finally turning around after decades of stagnation has been mounting.

Nucor’s Investment Will Exceed $2.7 Billion, Making It the State’s Largest Ever

At the end of last year, for example, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, for the first time in many years, more people moved into West Virginia from other states than moved out of West Virginia to other states between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

And on January 12, the GreenPower Motor Company announced that later this year it would begin manufacturing all-electric school buses at an 80,000 square-foot facility in South Charleston.

The GreenPower operation will bring roughly 200 manufacturing jobs to West Virginia this year. Once full production is reached, 24 months from now, the total number of jobs created could reach 900.

Also on January 12, the Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corporation confirmed its plan to build a state-of-the-art sheet steel mill in Mason County, W.Va. The business investment will exceed $2.7 billion, making it the largest ever for West Virginia and for Nucor.

Average Pay of ‘Around $90,000 a Year,’ Plus Benefits, For Mill Workers

A day later, Nucor executive John Farris was in Huntington, W.Va., to meet with Marshall University President Brad Smith and talk to the press about the company’s plans.

“We’ve made a commitment to come to the state of West Virginia, the money is there, and we’re working through permitting and are hopeful mid-year, this year, you’ll be able to drive by that site and you’ll see dozers and trackhoes and concrete being poured,” said Mr. Farris.

According to Rebecca McPhail, the president of the West Virginia Manufacturing Association, the average pay of the projected 800 manufacturing jobs at Nucor’s Mason County mill will be “around $90,000 a year with benefits.”

At full capacity, the mill will produce three million tons of sheet steel annually. It will serve automotive, heavy equipment, agricultural, construction, and other markets.  And it is expected to be up and running by 2024.

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented: 

“While citizens’ primary motive in enacting Right to Work laws, including West Virginia’s, is to protect employees’ freedom, the reality is that such laws have a long and impressive record of boosting the creation of good jobs.

“Six years after pro-freedom lawmakers overrode the veto of then-Big Labor Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and made West Virginia a Right to Work state, there are more and more opportunities for employees to advance economically without leaving the state.

“Ordinary pro-Right to Work West Virginians deserve most of the credit for making it happen. Credit is also due to elected officials who listened to them and acted on their wishes.”

National Right to Work Organizations Have Helped West Virginia Succeed

“And the two national Right to Work organizations clearly helped West Virginia succeed,” continued Mr. Mix.

In early 2016, he recalled, as the state’s ban on forced union dues and fees was being considered, the Committee mobilized 24,500 identified Right to Work supporters in the state, many of them multiple times, to contact their lawmakers and ask for their support.

Moreover, a key precedent figuring in the West Virginia Supreme Court’s 2020 decision to uphold the Right to Work law was Janus v. AFSCME, a U.S. Supreme Court case argued and won by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Staff Attorney Bill Messenger in 2018.

And in the Morrisey case itself, added Mr. Mix (who heads the Foundation as well as the Committee), another Foundation staff attorney submitted two briefs on behalf of independent-minded employees, asking that the Right to Work law be upheld. 

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