West Virginia Senate Passes Right to Work Bill

Mountain State Close to Becoming 26th to Bar Forced Union Dues

(Click here to download the February 2016 National Right To Work Newsletter)

Just a little over a year ago, this Newsletter singled out West Virginia for the remarkable progress it had made towards enacting a state law to protect employees from compulsory union dues and fees.

The January 2015 cover article reported that in the just-concluded campaign cycle Mountain State voters had “elected a total of 37 avowedly pro-Right to Work members to their state House of Delegates.”

Prior to the 2014 elections, the article added, “just 16 of the chamber’s members had gone on the record in opposition to the firing of employees for refusal to bankroll a union.”

It wasn’t difficult to discern a year ago that West Virginia was well on its way to becoming a Right to Work state. But now it seems that freedom-loving West Virginians could achieve that goal even sooner than many sympathetic observers had anticipated.

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‘Today Is an Important Step in Moving West Virginia Forward’

On Thursday, January 21, a 17-16 majority of state senators in Charleston, brushing aside Big Labor bluster and threats, voted to adopt S.B.1, legislation that would, as a Wall Street Journal editorial the following Monday accurately explained, let “workers choose for themselves whether to join a union.”

Pro-Right to Work chamber leaders emphasized the strongly positive impact S.B.1 would have, based on the ample experience of the 25 states that have already enacted such measures, on job and income growth in their state.

“I believe this is a critical first step toward bringing about the kind of change in West Virginia that is desperately needed to jump start our struggling economy,” declared Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer) in a statement issued shortly after the vote.

“[T]oday is an important step in moving West Virginia forward.”

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad concurred with the assessment of Mr. Cole and other elected officials that, by banning forced union dues and fees as a job condition, S.B.1 would help West Virginia’s economy.

But the primary reason S.B.1 should become law, said Mr. Mourad, is that it would “free thousands of West Virginia workers from being forced to pay tribute to a union boss for the privilege of getting and keeping a job so they can provide for their families.”

Ordinary citizens’ understanding that compulsory union financial support is just plain wrong, much more than economic considerations, is what drives polling such as an August 2015 scientific survey sponsored by the West Virginia MetroNews radio network.

This poll found that, by nearly a three-to-one margin, likely voters favor passage of a Right to Work law that says “each worker has a right to hold a job in a company, no matter whether he joins the labor union or not.”

‘Bulk of the Credit’ Should Go to Grass-Roots Citizen Activists

After being approved by the West Virginia Senate, S.B.1 moved to the Judiciary Committee of the state House of Delegates.

Mr. Mourad visited Charleston on January 28 to testify before that panel in favor of S.B.1.

Subsequently, the measure was approved for floor action.

Mr. Mourad vowed that, prior to the House floor vote, expected to occur soon after this Newsletter goes to press, the Committee would again mobilize its 10,000 members in the Mountain State as well as thousands and thousands of other identified Right to Work supporters to contact their elected officials.

“Our regular sources inside the West Virginia Legislature believe there is an excellent chance that S.B.1 will win House approval,” said Mr. Mourad.

“Of course, the bulk of the credit should go to the grass-roots citizen activists, many of them National Right to Work Committee members, who helped push this measure through the state Senate and will continue fighting until they prevail.

“Union-label Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin [D] is vowing to veto any attempt to protect his state’s employees from compulsory unionism.

“But under West Virginia law, it only requires constitutional majorities of both legislative chambers, not supermajorities, to override a veto.

“And it now seems there is a strong possibility that a veto of S.B.1 can be overridden.”

For more coverage of West Virginia’s bid to become America’s 26th Right to Work state, see next month’s edition of the National Right to Work Committee Newsletter.