Ashton Marra Published

Tight Vote in House Ends in Passage of Right-to-Work


In a close vote, members of the House of Delegates have approved a bill to make West Virginia a Right-to-Work state. Delegates voted 54 to 46, with some Republicans joining the Democratic minority in opposition.

Members debated the bill for nearly five hours Thursday before the final vote.

Senate Bill 1, the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, makes it illegal to fire a worker for refusing to join a union or pay union dues or fees.

Union officials say while they cannot force anyone to join a union as a condition of employment, they do charge nonunion workers in union workplaces a fee for services they render, like negotiating wage and benefit contracts. Without those fees, union leaders say their organizations will suffer.

Supporters of the provision say, however, that forcing a worker to pay those fees is forcing them to agree with a union’s political stances.

The bill was amended on the House floor Wednesday. The chamber’s  Judiciary Chair John Shott said the changes made the bill more clear.

Because of the amendment, the bill will return to the Senate Friday for further consideration before heading to Governor Tomblin. 

Tomblin issued a statement about an hour after the passage of the bill, stating:

"I remain committed to growing West Virginia's economy, but I do not believe right-to-work legislation is the best way to do that. "We can continue to improve our state's business climate by strengthening our workforce, combatting substance abuse and creating new sites for development, all of which continue to be his top priorities in the coming year. I have submitted proposals to address these issues, and I urge the Legislature to consider them during the session. "I will veto the legislation passed today, which received bipartisan opposition but only partisan support."

State lawmakers need only a simple majority to override a governor’s veto.