Less than a year after Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state, West Virginia’s on the verge of being number 26.
A right-to-work bill introduced Wednesday by West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole was voted out of committee Friday. Cole is running for governor and has made right-to-work his top priority for the state’s 60-day legislative session.
If Cole’s WV Workplace Freedom Act becomes law, West Virginians in unionized workplaces will no longer be forced to pay union “fair share” fees as a condition of employment.
Term-limited Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to veto the proposal, but Republicans have a veto-proof majority in the House and hope for a veto-proof majority in the Senate once the West Virginia Supreme Court rules on an appointment to fill a vacant seat.
West Virginia’s 2014 elections were a Republican romp, flipping control of the House of Delegates for the first time since before World War II. With that in mind, a Democrat vote or two in favor of right-to-work isn’t out of the question.
To keep Democrats in line, unions bused several thousand protesters to the state Capitol Wednesday evening.
But the union workers chanting “right-to-work is wrong” at West Virginia legislators were protesting a caricature that bears no resemblance to reality.
UNION RHETORIC: Right-to-work kills wages, safety, and quality of life
REALITY: Right-to-work lets workers choose whether to pay unions
Now, I wouldn’t blame you for assuming I exaggerated the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s talking points — the unions couldn’t be making such crazy allegations about such a straightforward policy, could they?
They could, and they are. If you watch the video from Wednesday’s union rally embedded above, you’ll see those exact claims printed on protesters’ shirts.
The honest union position — “nonmembers should be forced to pay us” — isn’t a heartwarming slogan, so union officials rely on talking points Richard Trumka and the national AFL-CIO have used for years.
Even Trumka’s talking points are built around the assumption workers can’t be trusted to choose whether to support a union. Giving workers that choice is the sole purpose of right-to-work.
Think about it: if refusing to pay union fees reduced your wages, benefits, and safety, wouldn’t you correct this by paying union fees? With the answer to that simple question, every union argument against right-to-work falls flat.
Nonetheless, union officials have had success with Trumka’s rhetoric in some states (Missouri, for example). Look for them to stick with it as the West Virginia legislative session continues.
The West Virginia AFL-CIO has already run a radio ad warning right-to-work should be called “right to die on the job,” because according to union bosses you’re more likely to die if you aren’t forced to pay union bosses.
Think that ad represents the lowest West Virginia’s union bosses will go to defend their flow of forced dues? Don’t bet on it.