CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Six months since the West Virginia Legislature passed Right to Work legislation, organized labor is ready to go to court to seek an injunction to block the measure. The new law was described by supporters during the debate as a bid to drop a requirement of union membership as a condition of employment. Union groups contend the measure amounted to an unfair taking of 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 Ken Hall, General Secretary Treasurer of the Teamsters Union.
Hall claimed the same argument was made in a similar challenge of the Right to Work law in Wisconsin. Where he added, the argument was successful. Union leaders claim the measure would be a death knell to collective bargaining because unions are bound by the National Labor Relations Act. Hall pointed out Section 9-A of the Act required the union to represent all employees in a shop, even those who choose not to join the union. Conversely, he added, the company has no obligation to recognize the partial union as a bargaining unit for those workers who chose to join.
“If you said I want to represent only a potion of the employees, it would have to be voluntary on the company’s part,” Hall said. “They don’t have to recognize us and they won’t.”
But advocates of Right to Work continue to maintain West Virginia is better off with the measure because of the freedom it allows. Hall agreed in the beginning many West Virginians were enamored with the idea and it was difficult to oppose a claim of “workplace freedom.” However since implementation, it has shown few results in the area of job creation for the Mountain State.
“People were told by the proponents of this bill companies were waiting at the border to come to West Virginia,” said Hall. “Now it’s been six months and the only thing that has been crossing the border have been jobs going out of Roane County and up in Wheeling.”