Jan 21, 2016
The West Virginia Senate, by a 17-16 party line vote, approved the "right to work for less" bill today. That measure will go to the Republican-controlled House of Delegates next week.
But it's far from over. The State Supreme Court is determining how to fill the vacancy created when State Senator Daniel Hall resigned last month to become a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. Hall was elected as a Democrat in 2012, but switched parties after his re-election in 2014.
Hall's switchover made the makeup of the Senate 18 Republicans and 16 Democrats, and Republicans began plotting their attack on union workers and collective bargaining rights.
The makeup of the Senate is critical to sustain the governor's expected veto of the "right to work for less" bill and other legislation that attacks union workers.
Governor Earl Tomblin (D) said that he believes a Democrat should be appointed, to respect the will of the voters who put Hall in office, and will follow the Supreme Court's direction.
Meanwhile, the "right to work" crowd is losing the economics argument. The Republican-led legislature had commissioned a West Virginia University study that found that so-called "right-to-work" policies led to more employment growth than states without those laws. But the Economic Policy Institute recently analyzed the economic impact data and discovered the study is "fraught with several problems." In fact, the errors are so glaring, they are "enough to allow serious researchers and conscientious policymakers to disregard the WVU study results." When corrections are made, EPI concludes, the relationship between "right-to-work" and employment growth actually "disappears."
Union members from across West Virginia are keeping up the fight for bargaining rights.