CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Full arguments before the state Supreme Court could be the next step for West Virginia’s right-to-work law after the Court issued a stay of a lower court’s ruling Friday.
The stay was requested in a motion filed by state Attorney General Patrick Morrison. He has also filed a motion of intent to appeal in connection with the February ruling from Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey striking down key provisions of the 2016 law.
During an appearance Monday on MetroNews “Talkline,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said he was disappointed in the High Court’s decision but not shocked. He said labor would be ready for what’s on deck in the legal battle.
“This is just part of the process. This has nothing to do with the merits of the case, the merits of our argument,” Sword said. “We’re looking forward and preparing for the next steps and we’ll move forward accordingly.”
MORE Read Morrisey’s notice of appeal here
That next step could be full oral arguments before the Court, Sword said.
“We want the process to play out so we get a thorough review of our case. But we also want it to play out efficiently because in our opinion our constitutional rights are being violated,” he said.
Right-to-work was one of the first pieces of significant legislation the new Republican-controlled legislature passed in 2016. It would allow employees to opt out of union dues even if other employees receive union representation.
Bailey issued an injunction in 2017 following an appeal of the law by labor unions. The injunction was later overturned to the High Court. Bailey’s full decision followed nearly two years later, this past February.
The ruling said the new law forces union’s to provide their expertise and services to workers who aren’t required to join a union. She called the law arbitrary.
Sword said it’s an illegal taking.
“That’s essential what all of this is about–protecting our property rights,” he said.
Supreme Court Justice Tim Armstead, who was House of Delegates speaker when the bill was passed in 2016, removed himself from considering Morrisey’s request for a stay. Sword said he would expect Armstead to the do the same if the case proceeds to oral arguments.
“It’s the right thing to do since he was the speaker of the House and shepherded this bill through in both 2016 and 2017,” Sword said.