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Unions rally at Capitol before governor’s speech

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Sam Owens West Virginia State Police troopers clear a path Wednesday evening at the state Capitol amidst a crowd of workers screaming “right-to work-is wrong.”
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Sam Owens
West Virginia State Police troopers clear a path Wednesday evening at the state Capitol amidst a crowd of workers screaming “right-to work-is wrong.”

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The volume of the crowd grew exponentially louder in the state Capitol and from the far end of the marble-lined Rotunda boos began to mix with the chants of “right-to-work is wrong.”

As Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, made his way toward the House Chamber, his path grew narrower. The walls of unionized teachers, carpenters, electricians and miners squeezed in around the Republican candidate for governor, as a pair of State Police troopers tried to clear a path.

The first day of the 2016 West Virginia legislative session started off with more than a little energy as union members from throughout the state packed the Capitol Wednesday night to protest Republican sponsored bills that would end prevailing wages for laborers working on public projects and prohibit labor groups from collecting dues from non-union employees, even if they benefit from the union’s wage and benefit negotiations.

Many of the union members who protested Wednesday see the Republican majority’s policies as an effort to weaken unions. Most are angered by what they see as a veiled attempt to disrupt their ability to collectively bargain with their employers, and Cole was the target of much of that ire before the State of State address later in the evening…

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