After a nine-day statewide strike, West Virginia teachers and school service employees are back to work with a hard-won commitment from lawmakers of a 5 percent pay raise for all public workers. Gov. Jim Justice also ordered the creation of a task force to explore long-term solutions to the public employees insurance program known as PEIA.

Scott Brewer
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill that sparked some debate in the Senate has made its way to the House of Delegates. It would make changes to the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, or the state’s right-to-work law.

The debate over whether West Virginia should be the 26th Right-to-Work state began during last year’s Legislative session.

Right-to-work laws make it illegal to require a worker in a union shop to pay union dues and fees if he or she is not a member.

Union’s argue that worker, however, is still benefiting from the contract negotiations the union pays for, without contributing to the cost.

Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

While Republican West Virginia legislative leaders rammed a right-to-work bill into law this year, unions and business groups spent almost $1.8 million altogether battling over the policy.

Grassroots campaign reports say union groups spent $1.4 million in a failed bid to kill right-to-work. Pro-business groups spent about $374,500 to support the GOP on the policy abhorred by unions and Democrats. The fight was waged in TV ads and other media.

Right-to-Work: Right or Wrong for West Virginia?

Jan 20, 2016
Flickr / davidwilson1949

On the first day of the 2016 legislative session, hundreds of union workers packed the upper rotunda to make their position clear to legislators they think the controversial Right-to-Work bill is wrong for West Virginia.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

One of the hot-button issues in the 2016 legislative session is whether or not West Virginia will adopt Right-to-Work laws limiting union power.

Right-to-Work legislation would prohibit unions from requiring dues from workers who do not wish to be part of the union.


With legislative session set to begin Wednesday, Republican lawmakers are pushing to make two issues an early priority: making West Virginia a right-to-work state and repealing the prevailing wage for public construction projects.

Republican Senate President Bill Cole said lawmakers will make right to work and a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage top priorities early in the 2016 session.

Data analyzed by SNL Energy's Taylor Kuykendall and Hira Fawad suggests underground coal mines in Appalachia that have unionized are not only safer, but also more productive.