West Virginia Union Marches To Unseat State Republicans

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The West Virginia AFL-CIO marched through Charleston during a convention Thursday, vowing to unseat lawmakers who supported a recently enacted right-to-work law.

West Virginia became a right-to-work state Feb. 12 after Republicans were able to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The policy outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The AFL-CIO marched through the city behind a “Remember in November” banner in reference to an upcoming state election, reports West Virginia MetroNews.

Republicans made right-to-work a priority since securing the legislature in November 2014. The measure was introduced Jan. 13 on the first day of the 60-day legislative session. Republicans held a slight majority in the legislature, allowing it to pass despite adamant opposition from Democrats.

Americans for Prosperity West Virginia launched a media campaign in support of the policy. The free-market advocacy group also sent out letters urging lawmakers to support the measure. The West Virginia AFL-CIO launched its own campaign in opposition.

Supporters argued the policy can help attract businesses while holding unions accountable to their members. They hope the policy will help reverse decades of bad economic policies enacted under previous Democratic control. Critics, however, dispute the claim by noting the policy makes it much more difficult for workers to advocate for themselves while doing nothing to attract businesses.

The state law gave supporters just enough of an advantage to override the veto. A super majority of two-thirds is required to reverse a veto in a lot of states. West Virginia lawmakers only needed a simple majority because the bill was not tied to the budget. West Virginia is the fourth state in the past four years to outlaw mandatory union dues following Wisconsin.

The AFL-CIO also marched against a measure that repealed the state prevailing wage law. Those opposed claim the policy benefits unions because it sets wages and benefits for public projects usually at a rate union contracts dictate. The policy impedes nonunion companies from competing at a lower cost for government contracts.

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