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Morrisey adamant on Right to Work during WV Business Summit presentation



The State Journal

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he will appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court in the unlikely event West Virginia’s high court upholds an injunction against implementing the state’s right to work law.

Arguments before the West Virginia Supreme Court are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5 on whether to overturn an injunction imposed by Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey blocking the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, passed by the state Legislature in 2016. Morrisey provided an update on the case during a presentation of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and business summit at The Greenbrier on Wednesday.

“This is a statute that has been pending in court for a couple of years,” Morrisey said.

Lawmakers passed the legislation, Senate Bill 1, in February of 2016, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Morrisey said the right-to-work law prohibits unions from making union membership a condition of employment and prohibits unions from charging union dues or parts of union dues to workers who are not in the union. Many unions charge non-members reduced union dues, arguing the union represents non-union members as well as union members in disputes.

Morrisey, a staunch supporter of right to work laws, said the laws give workers a choice in whether or not to join the union. He said deciding not to join a union but still being forced to pay union dues “is not a choice at all.”

Morrisey said right-to-work laws force unions to prove they’re providing a service to their membership.

“If a union wants your support, it has to earn it,” he said, adding that 25 states with right-to-work laws have seen greater increases in new union members than states that don’t have right to work laws.

However, West Virginia union leaders, led by the AFL-CIO, challenged Senate Bill 1 in court.

In August, 2016, Bailey issued a temporary injunction blocking Senate Bill 1 from taking effect.

In May, Morrisey went to the state Supreme Court, asking that Bailey’s decision be overturned.

Morrisey said the arguments against the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1 are specious. Although unions argue they are justified in charging partial dues for representing non-union members, Morrisey said nothing in federal law requires unions to do so. He also said there is little to support the argument that right-to-work laws deprive unions of the right to free association.

“If I sound like I am incredulous about the arguments that have been put up before the court, I am,” Morrisey said.

But he said he was confident the Supreme Court would overrule Judge Bailey and allow Senate Bill 1 to go into effect.

“No federal appeals court has ever struck one of these (right-to-work) laws down,” Morrisey said.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the outcome,” Morrisey said, although he said it was possible the high court would split 3-2 on the question.

“In a rational world,” Morrisey said, there is no reason to think Senate Bill 1 won’t be upheld. “This should not be a close call,” he said.

But, if the state’s high court rules to leave the injunction in place, Morrisey vowed to take the case to the United States Surpreme Court, if necessary.

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