The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee sent a right-to-work proposal to the floor for a general vote Friday after a public hearing to discuss the merits of the bill.
The measure was introduced Jan. 13 on the first day of the 60-day legislative session. Republicans made right-to-work a priority after securing the legislature in November 2014. The policy, which has already passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The Senate passed the proposal Jan. 21 before sending it to the House of Delegates.
“Out of the ten states with the highest rate of poverty, seven are right-to-work states,” Teamsters Local 175 President Ken Hall said during the hearing. “If it wasn’t for lowering wages people wouldn’t be saying it attracts companies.”
The general vote is likely to happen next week. For supporters the proposal means reversing decades of bad economic policies enacted under previous Democratic control. It also means more worker freedom. Those opposed to the policy, however, argue it makes it much more difficult for workers to advocate for themselves.
“Right-to-work is one of the most important steps we can take to creating opportunity in the state,” Americans for Prosperity West Virginia Director Jason Huffman said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We want lawmakers to know that the grassroots expect bold policy action to keep the promise of jobs and if that promise is to be kept, then they must pass right-to-work legislation.”
Americans for Prosperity has relaunched a television commercial in support of the policy to coincide with the hearing. The free-market advocacy group also started sending out letters urging lawmakers to support the measure. The West Virginia AFL-CIO stated in a recent radio ad that right-to-work will cause a 54 percent increase in workplace injury and can lower wages as much as $6,000 per year. Unions have also held numerous protests outside the capitol in the past week.
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