State Supreme Court to hear arguments on right-to-work law in September

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A date has been set for arguments regarding the future of West Virginia’s right-to-work law.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will hear Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General v. West Virginia AFL-CIO, et al., on September 5, the day after Labor Day.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 in February 2016, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act went into effect July 1.

The law would have prohibited requiring workers being union members or paying union dues in order to be employed.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey issued a preliminary injunction August 10, a move supported by labor unions.

According to a filed brief, Morrisey is asking for the order to be vacated, saying Bailey erred in her action.

“In upholding similar right-to-work laws, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a union’s right to associate does not extend to the right to compel a nonmember employee to support the union’s activities,” Morrisey said.

Vincent Trivelli and Robert Bastress Jr., attorneys representing the respondents, said in their brief the 2016 law affects older laws allowing labor unions to negotiate contracts containing a union security clause, which requires employees to maintain union membership or pay dues in order to have a job.

“These sums are the primary source of income for these organizations, without which they would be unable to fulfill their purposes of collective bargaining and the representation of employees, including nonmember employees,” the lawyers said.

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