2016 West Virginia Legislative Session Changes Employment Law

The “Right to Work” Bill, officially called the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act[1] will be effective from July 1, 2016, making West Virginia the 26th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Under this Act, any new employment contract or contract that is modified, renewed, or extended as of July 1, 2016, would not require an employee to become or remain a member of a labor union, require the payment of union dues, or require the payment of those dues to a third party. Apart from that, it also nullifies existing agreements which contain such types of employee requirements.

The new bill is an attempt by out-of-state interests to move the employees to part-time positions, offshore their jobs and reduce safety in the workplace.

Currently, in union work places, a non-union worker pays a certain fee to the union for their representation in contract negotiations. But, after July 1, 2016, the unions would no longer be able to collect those fees.

The law was pushed by the out-of-state millionaires and billionaires on the state government who basically try to make more money off from the families of West Virginia. The rule would allow workers who choose not to participate in a union to benefit from union-company contract negotiations without ever having to pay a single penny for the collective bargaining services.

Opponents are of the view that although the proposed law sounds great, yet in reality it is deeply controversial, confusing and would also cost West Virginia families $5,000 a year on an average.

“The bill is absolutely terrible for a state that was built on the backs of labor,” said Brian Jones, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of West Virginia. He, along with many other union leaders is hopeful that this year’s elections could rectify the likely result.

However, supporters opine that there is a significant value to right-to-Work in West Virginia: that it is the first piece in a larger puzzle to build a better economic climate. Bryan Hoylman, president of the Associated Builder and Contractors of West Virginia says that while right-to-Work is not a silver bullet, it is an important initial step in attracting a new industry.

A comparative study based on The Center for American Progress report titled “Right-to-Work 101”,[2] and another EPI: Evidence Shows “Right-To-Work” Legislation “[h]as [n]o [s]tatistically [s]ignificant [i]mpact [w]hatsoever” on Job Growth[3] stated that the right to work law has no positive impact upon the employment growth.

Although these studies depict that it is unclear as to what the true impact of Right-to-Work is for West Virginia, but can be understood that (a) adoption of an RTW policy would cause around one-fifth of an estimated decline in the private sector union membership; (b) the RTW policy would lead to employment growth, approximately 0.4 percent higher than in the non-RTW states; and (c) that it would also lead to GDP growth, approximately 0.5 percent higher than in the non-RTW states.


[1] See Bill

[2] See The Center for American Progress report titled “Right-to-Work 101” 

[3] See EPI: Evidence Shows “Right-To-Work” Legislation “Has No Statistically Significant Impact Whatsoever” On Job Growth


Leave a Reply