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W.Va. Labor Unions Will Sue Over Right-to-Work Law

Capitol Dome, Capitol, Legislature
Perry Bennett
West Virginia Legislative Photography

Several labor unions say they intend to sue West Virginia over a recently enacted Right-to-Work law.

Lawmakers approved the bill in February after Governor Tomblin vetoed it. Senate Bill 1 took effect last week.

The bill makes it illegal for unions to require nonmembers to pay union dues or fees.

Unions argue the fees cover the cost of contract negotiations that these nonunion members benefit from, but several members of the Republican-led Legislature argued the measure would help create jobs.

The state’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, and several other labor organizations, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Mine Workers of America, notified the Attorney General’s office by letter Monday that they intend to sue the state over the law.

“First and foremost, we believe it’s unconstitutional per the West Virginia state Constitution because it clearly prohibits the illegal taking of property without due process and compensate and that’s essentially what the Right-to-Work bill will do,” Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Josh Sword said Monday.

“It will require union or force unions to represent people that don’t pay anything into the union.”

West Virginia’s Right-to-Work law was based on a similar billed approved in Indiana. Last month, a federal court ruled Wisconsin’s version of the law was unconstitutional.

According to West Virginia code, anyone who intends to sue the state must send notification 30 days in advance and file the suit in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

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