On January 21st, the West Virginia Senate passed the "West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act" by a 17 to 16 vote. The Act, part of Senate Bill 1, will prohibit employment agreements that require membership in a union as a condition of employment as well as employment agreements that require non-union employees to pay union dues or fees or to make equivalent contributions to a charity.
Commonly referred to as "Right to Work" legislation, the Act will establish that a non-union worker is not required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, but still work in a union setting. Proponents of the Act point out that Right to Work laws do not impact the ability of workers to organize, join a union, or collectively bargain with employers. Opponents of the Act believe, however, that the Act will allow non-union employees to receive all of the benefits of a contract without requiring those employees to pay dues and financially support the union that bargained for that contract.
The Bill will proceed to the House of Delegates, and if passed, will be sent to Governor Tomblin. If the measure is enacted and signed into law, West Virginia will become the 26th "Right to Work" state.