Right to Work

The West Virginia Supreme Court chamber.
West Virginia Judiciary

The West Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a so-called right-to-work law and handed a defeat to labor unions which had sought to preserve workers' union dues.

In an opinion released Tuesday, the justices granted summary judgment to the state and overturned a February 2019 ruling by a lower court judge who had sided with the unions.

W.Va. Judge Strikes Down Key Portions of So-Called Right-to-Work Law

Feb 28, 2019
Adobe Stock images / WVPB illustration

A judge on Wednesday sided with labor unions in striking down key portions of West Virginia’s so-called right-to-work law, including those that allowed workers to stop paying union dues.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey made the ruling in a lawsuit filed by the state chapter of the AFL-CIO and other unions. The judge said some provisions of the 2016 law violated the state constitution.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have voted to override Governor Jim Justice’s veto of Senate Bill 330.

The bill was an attempt to clarify some language in the state’s Right to Work law which was approved by lawmakers in the 2016 session.

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.

On The Legislature Today, education is once again debated on the Senate floor, but this time the education chair shares concerns over a bill he’s sponsoring.

In the House, delegates progress a Right-to-Work bill one that makes changes to the current law being challenged in the state’s court system.

And advocates are pushing second chance laws that they say will help felons reintegrate into their communities and keep them out of prison in the future.

Those stories and more on The Legislature Today.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators approved a bill Monday to clarify West Virginia’s right-to-work law that the Legislature passed last year. The law has yet to take effect because it’s been tied up in a court case in Kanawha County.

On The Legislature Today, the governor releases an alternative plan to balance the 2018 budget-- one legislative leaders seem more open to considering.


In the Senate, a bill to clarify the state’s right to work law gets a passing vote and in the House, delegates hold a public hearing to address changed to the state's water quality standards.

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.

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.

Business Leaders Disagree on Right-To-Work Law

Feb 24, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning: It’s been just over a week since the Legislature voted to make West Virginia a right-to-work state, and business owners are speaking out.

  A trade union says West Virginia University and the state Senate concealed emails about right-to-work legislation, going against the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The Register-Herald reports that the two lawsuits filed last week by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters contend $17,000 in state money was used to fund a study for the GOP's anti-work objective, rather than independently studying the impact on the state and its citizens.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act Passes House In WV

Feb 12, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from lawmakers about the controversial religious freedom restoration act, which was passed by the house of delegates yesterday.

Office of the Governor

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has made good on recent a promise by vetoing two bills passed by the state Legislature.

The governor vetoed House Bill 4005, which repeals the prevailing hourly wage.  In his message, Tomblin said  we don't need to pass bills that lower the wages of West Virginia workers and do little, if anything, to stimulate our economy.

Courtesy of Dale Payne

Not many Americans know the story of the Mine Wars that were fought between workers, labor unions and mine company guards during the early 1900s. In this show, Jessica Lilly talks with filmmaker Randy MacLowry, whose new PBS documentary The Mine Wars focuses on these armed uprisings by labor organizers in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. 

Should First-Time Felons Get a Second Chance?

Feb 5, 2016

Amber Miller admits she was no angel. She hung out with the wrong crowd. She used drugs.

When she was 20, she went to prison for stealing $30 from her grandmother.

But 12 years later, she is still labeled as a felon. And that's hurt her ability to find work.

A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers is sponsoring a "second chance" bill. It would allow first-time, non-violent felons to ask a judge to expunge their record a certain time after release.

Lyme Disease Cases Increase In West Virginia

Feb 4, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from Governor Tomblin about what he thinks of the 2016 legislative session so far and we’ll take a look at possible causes of a sharp increase of Lyme disease in West Virginia.

Legislation to ensure West Virginia can pay its bills through the end of the year is now on Governor Tomblin’s desk which he says he’ll sign quickly.

But bills to repeal the prevailing wage and implement right-to-work provisions, those may see a veto. We speak with the governor tonight.

Also on our show, changes have been made to some controversial pieces of legislation, and the Education Chairs join us to discuss their work during this 60 day session.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning we’ll hear some of the debate over the prevailing wage repeal including senator Craig Blair’s take as well as delegate Gary Howell.


In the third full week of this legislative session both chambers are poised to vote on bills that could see vetoes from Governor Tomblin--one to make West Virginia a Right-to-Work state, the other, to repeal the state’s prevailing wage.

The chairs of the House and Senate Government Organization Committees discuss the proposed repeal as well as a possible change to the state's Home Rule Pilot Program.

On this Snowmaggedon edition of The Front Porch:

1. A huge snowball fight breaks out over Right to Work, and whether it is right for West Virginia

2. Does Sen. Chris Walter's bill to expand broadband internet access stand a snowball's chance in hell? Should it?

Senate Passes Right to Work Legislation

Jan 22, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we take a closer look at the debate over the controversial Right to Work bill and hear what Senators on both sides have to say about the recently-passed legislation.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  On The Legislature Today, West Virginia is one step closer to becoming a Right to Work state after a vote on the Senate floor. And members of the House will consider another union opposed bill next week, a repeal of the state’s prevailing wage. The minority leaders of both chambers join us tonight to discuss these controversial bills and others they’ll proposed to the GOP majority. That conversation coming up on The Legislature Today.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House Government Organization Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would repeal the state’s prevailing wage - the hourly wage rate and benefits workers are paid on state construction projects. The bill hasn’t had its first reading on the floor yet, but House Democrats are still trying to slow it down.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, House Speaker Tim Armstead defends the repeal of the prevailing wage and the controversial right-to-work bill and says both measures will bring new business to West Virginia.

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.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill aimed at repealing the prevailing wage has surfaced again this session, and it’s causing just as much debate this year as it did in 2015.

On just the third day of the 2016 session, dozens of people came out to the capitol early Friday morning to attend the House Government Organization’s public hearing on House Bill 4005, repealing prevailing wage.

Right to Work Bill Takes Center Stage

Jan 15, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we take a look at an upcoming segment on Inside Appalachia, and differing opinions on the Right to Work bill which is currently being debated by West Virginia Lawmakers.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

While Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's legislative proposals this session focus largely on the budget, it will be legislators who make the final decisions on what gets approved.  And members of both the House and the Senate have some pretty big issues they want brought to the table.

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.