CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would make West Virginia the 25th state with a Right To Work law is finding more support at the State Capitol where Republicans are in charge for the first time in more than eight decades.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 04) is one of the sponsors of SB 337 which was introduced this week and is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We don’t believe that it should be required, in America, in a democracy, to force someone to associate with a particular entity just to have a job,” he said.
The bill would prohibit any requirement that a person become or remain a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment; prohibit a requirement that any dues or fees be paid to a labor organization and prohibit any requirement that a person contribute to a charity instead of paying dues or other fees to a labor organization.
Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said workers are already free from forced union participation under existing law.
“What Right To Work is really about, it is not about the freedom in the workplace to belong or not to belong to the union,” he argued. “Me, I’m a strong believer that it’s corporations want(ing) to have total control over the unions. It is anti-union legislation.”
Carmichael and Perdue debated the issue on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline” which originated from the State Capitol where the 2015 Regular Legislative Session continues.
“What we’re trying to say here is that the employee should have the opportunity to either freely associate with this union and it not be a condition of a job,” Carmichael said.
“They already have that,” Perdue argued.
Carmichael asked, “Well then, why are you opposed to this position then?”
“The law is already there. The law already says that you don’t have to be a union member,” Perdue answered. “What Right To Work does is force the union that is in there, which the union is there because the majority of them voted, the employer has accepted that through NLRB election, but that person that comes in there can sit back and get the benefits of all that and not pay the union dues.”
Perdue called the Right To Work bill an “attack on unions.” “That is their agenda. It’s about taking control. It’s the U.S. Chamber that wants control of the workforce,” Perdue said.
“No,” Carmichael countered. “This is an attack on poverty and joblessness in West Virginia. We’re going to move this state forward and this a component of it.”
Monetary penalties are included in the proposed legislation.
The bill does contain exceptions for federal employers and employees, employers and employees covered by the federal Railway Labor Act, employers and employees on exclusive federal enclaves or where there would be another conflict with, or preempted by, federal law.