(Freedom.news) It took the state legislature to override a gubernatorial veto, but last week the Mountain State became the 26th state overall to adopt a right-to-work law that ends coercive and advantageous control over labor by unions.
State Delegate Gary Howell was one of a majority of lawmakers who were pushing the right to work law, which prevents employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The override of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto is a big deal in West Virginia, long a stronghold for Democratic-leaning Big Labor.
But the vote came as no surprise to many since all that is required is a simple majority to override; the state Legislature is controlled by Republicans.
Howell, in an interview with the WFB, said the vote will give a boost to the state’s lagging economy and make it more attractive to employers.
“It’s going to move West Virginia in a position to grow our economy again,” Howell said in a phone interview. “It’ll have a positive effect on job creation, especially with manufacturers.
“We build things here and have a lot of natural resources,” he continued. “We’re closer to the source of raw materials. It’ll be easier to create those jobs here. It makes us more competitive.”
In vetoing the right-to-work legislation Tomblin, a Democrat, said it wasn’t necessary, dismissing the assertion that such a law would attract new business to the state, which has been hard hit by recession and whose coal industry could suffer further if President Obama’s radical new EPA climate regulations, which discourage the use of coal, are fully implemented.
“I have never had a company cite right to work as a barrier to relocating to West Virginia. We do not lack prospects,” he said in a veto statement. “Our issues are best addressed by improving our workforce and creating new development opportunities … I do not believe West Virginia needs a right-to-work law, a law that would lead to little if any economy growth and may lower the wages of West Virginia workers.”
While some claim that right-to-work laws tend to lower a state’s average wages, others say that such laws create a much better business environment overall. CNBC reports, for instance, that right-to-work states dominate its top states for business list.
Also, Howell told the WFB that Tomblin’s claims were misleading.
“One of the reasons he never heard that is because the companies knew we weren’t right to work, so they never even knocked on the door,” Howell said, adding that right-to-work states had higher average wages than West Virginia.
Republican State Sen. Craig Blair, meanwhile, said the override tells the country that West Virginia “is open for business again.”
While the data doesn’t necessarily prove that right-to-work states are better suited to attract new firms, states that have passed such legislation tout themselves as “right to work,” versus states that have not passed those laws. The latter tend to look for other things to tout when trying to attract business, CNBC reported.
But in any event, the thinking behind right-to-work is that though unions once upon a time were seen as necessary to protect American labor, today they are seen as gatekeepers that can prevent an otherwise qualified worker from landing a job.
“We want people to create businesses in West Virginia,” Blair told WFB. “It levels the playing field. Right to work is not a panacea that solves everything. It’s another tool that we have for job creation and retention. We didn’t have that before.”
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