Saturday, February 6, 2016

West Virginia about to fall to "Right to Work"

It looks like West Virginia's new Republican majority is about ram through a Right-to-Work (for less) bill.

It's not a surprise, that's what GOP majorities always do with anti-labor legislation. (See Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan, oh, and Michigan again.) Once these bills surface, they rocket through the ledge to stop opposition and minimize the public discomfort their backers have to face.

West Virginia's legislative majority could use a visit
from these nice ladies.
In West Virginia, they're drawing on Orwellian inspiration to call it the "Workplace Freedom Act" Guh. Like all (so-called) Right to Work laws, it would give employees the right to stop paying dues to the labor union that represents them, but forces those unions to continue to represent the workers. The goal is to defund the unions, leaving workers out in the cold.

I've always been of the belief that if workers don't want to work in a union shop, they should quit and find an employer without a union. I mean, that's what management tells employees when they demand healthcare or higher wages or better working conditions, right?

Anyhow, back to West Virginia.

Proponents, backed by the usual third-rate think tanks, push the usual bad arguments about RTW improving West Virginia's economic prospects (because gutting workers' rights always improves things for residents). And anti-labor legislation debates always come with a few gratuitous shots at pro-labor protesters .

It was only a matter of time. I thought the GOP would wait until they elected one of their own as governor,  but the state's weak gubernatorial veto (simple majorities of the legislature can override as long as the legislature is in session) made it too tempting to not get done this year.

Kentucky is likely next up, with Missouri, New Mexico, Montana and Ohio potentially on the chopping block depending on how 2016 elections go.

Yes, I am depressed about this.  I'm doubly so because the battles in West Virginia's coal fields rocketed the United National Mine Workers to prominence. But the group has lost more than 90 percent of its membership in the last half century as coal-mining has died and the remaining operators rely on cheap bankruptcy tricks to undercut the few union minors left.

John Cole over at Balloon Juice has more on this and the other predictable horribleness that results when you let vandals take over your state legislature (like apparently now $100 for a five-year gun permit is an unconstitutional infringement on your right to pack heat).

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