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article imageWest Virginia becomes 26th right-to-work state in U.S.

By Larry Clifton     Feb 12, 2016 in Politics
Unions, reeling from recent defeats in right-to-work states and declining memberships, suffered yet another major defeat when the West Virginia legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D).
Tomlin was not able to reach across the aisle for support, ensuring his veto was dismissed by a simple majority, voting 18-16 in the Senate and 55-43 in the House along party lines, according to HuffPost Politics article published Friday. Typically, in American politics, Democratic Party candidates and officeholders benefit from the pocketbooks of unions that financially support their campaigns while taking swipes at Republican opponents.
The override came swiftly and historically, as it means that a majority of states in the country are now protect their workers by law from being forced by unions to pay dues and fees. West Virginia is the 26th state, including Michigan, to pass right-to-work legislation. The law goes into effect in May.
Experts say the West Virginia punch to union’s midsection may not be the last powerful blow dealt this year. In California, teachers are suing to reject union “fair share service fees” that all public employees in that state are required to pay. Sometimes referred to as an “agency fee,” the charge against non-union public employees is roughly the same amount as members' dues and fees. Pundits analyzing lines of questioning by Supreme Court justices say the court is likely to rule against unions’ “fair share service fees.” Beyond West Virginia, should the California case go against unions, it could start a domino effect in 20 states that have similar laws on the books.
In West Virginia, all of the state’s Democratic Party representatives voted against the right-to-work bill including the governor. However, since 2010, Republicans have made great electoral gains in state legislatures. The National Right to Work Committee claims forcing nonunion workers to pay union fees amounts to levying a tax, something unions do not have the right to do. The committee is basking in the victory in a state that many union workers were hurt by Pres. Obama’s recent Executive Order imposing stiff regulations and penalties on coal mining and other energy-producing entities.The United States Supreme Court shot down Mr. Obama's executive order against miners earlier this week
“While this is a good day, it is not the end of the work to be done," the group said in a statement. "We hope West Virginia’s embrace of workplace freedom will help spur other states to join the Right to Work ranks."
Unions by law cannot force Americans to join, however, subject to local law, unions can and do impose their “fair share service fees” on nonmembers. Whether unions at large have the right to impose fees on workers who reject membership in a union is the crux of the Supreme Court case that is expected to present in June.
With a majority of states having granted workers the right to work without paying union dues, other states considering similar legislation may soon join the fray. West Virginia Democrats are furious over the development. State Sen. Jeffrey Kessler (D), leader of the senate minority, called the pair of moves a "double-barreled attack" on West Virginia workers on a "horrific" day. Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO union federation, thanked Tomblin for his opposition to the measures in a statement. Perdue said the federation would "remind" voters "which legislators failed them" come November.
Despite Democratic opposition, it is not clear at all that voters en masse support unions and their “fair share service fees.” Nationwide, the percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. has tumbled in recent decades, plummeting from 30% 60 years ago to just 11.1% last year. The current number of union workers in West Virginia is slightly higher than the national average at 12.4 percent.
More about West Virginia legislature, Union fair share service fee, right to work states, Gov Earl Ray Tomblin D, West Virginia right to work state
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