CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking the state’s new right to work law.
West Virginia became the 26th right to work state in the U.S. on July 1 after its passage in the 2016 Regular Legislative Session. The AFL-CIO and 10 other unions sought the injunction claiming it amounted to stealing property.
“The fact that our members will have to pay for representation for people who choose not to join the union or drop out of the union is just an unfair taking of their property,” said General Secretary Treasurer of the Teamsters Union Ken Hall
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Foundation said on MetroNews “Talkline” Wednesday that it’s actually unions that are attempting to steal from workers.
“In essence, what these 10 unions in West Virginia are doing is filing a lawsuit against West Virginia workers,” Mix said. “What they’re saying is that there may be some workers out there that they claim to represent in the grand scheme of things. They can say all they want about that, but this lawsuit is against (state workers) who may decide for whatever reason they don’t want to be in a union. They didn’t vote for it, ask for it; want it. And quite frankly, many of them think they might be able to do better on their own.”
Right to work, in short, gives employees in union industries the option not to pay union dues, a choice that Mix believes workers should have.
“It’s not our place to decide what’s beneficial to an individual employee. Obviously getting a paycheck is a benefit. But the idea of ‘all things that unions do for workers is a benefit’? That has been disposed of and is just absolute pure garbage.”
Mix said that often, unions and their collective bargaining contracts prove detrimental to the best workers.
“(It) hurts the best workers, protects the worst workers; makes everyone kind of midland. And basically, from the standpoint of certain requirements of a union contract, can actually hurt the workers and they admit that.”
Unions oppose right to work legislation, Mix said, because it forces them to compete for membership rather than having it by default as a condition for employment.
“What it does do is it makes union officials much more accountable to rank-and-file workers, they now instead of just going and collecting a check every month from the employer that’s taking out of an employee’s paycheck as condition of keeping their job, they go out and they sell their product to America’s workers,” he said. “They won’t win in that case.”
Bailey said she wanted resolve the question of a permanent injunction within two or three months, but an exact schedule for the case won’t be worked out until Monday.