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West Virginia union bosses panicking over right-to-work

By   /   November 20, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

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CHILD MINERS: Labor bosses are trying to convince West Virginians letting workers choose whether to pay unions would undo centuries of labor laws.

West Virginia labor bosses aren’t thrilled about the prospect of a right-to-work law that would stop them from taking mandatory union dues.

To drive down public opinion on right-to-work — 60 percent of West Virginians support right-to-work, and only 23 percent oppose it — union leaders are telling voters the law would have terrible consequences.

State legislators are “seeking to diminish those rights of West Virginia’s working people,” West Virginia AFL-CIO president Kenny Perdue said Sunday.

Right-to-work bills like the one Republicans in the West Virginia Legislature are expected to submit in January give workers the ability to choose whether to pay unions. That’s all right-to-work does.

But the West Virginia AFL-CIO says right-to-work “is deeply controversial, confusing and would cost West Virginia families on average $5,000 a year.” To prove it, the labor coalition is using a graphic from the AFL-CIO’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

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Taking cues from its national parent, the West Virginia AFL-CIO is trying to convince West Virginians the freedom to choose whether to pay unions will make them poorer and more likely to die at work.

RELATED: Will West Virginia become the 26th right-to-work state?

“Last week, big corporations got their pals in Charleston, W.Va., to introduce a controversial and unsafe ‘right to work’ bill,” AFL-CIO headquarters said when a right-to-work bill was filed during this year’s legislative session.

“This legislation will make it easier to cut wages and benefits, send jobs overseas and weaken health and safety protections at workplaces across the state,” AFL-CIO warned. AFL-CIO even suggested lawmakers wanted to send children back into the state’s coal mines.

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“Corporate interests think they have the right to lower your pay, reduce your health care and cut your retirement,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a USA Today column attacking right-to-work.

“They think it’s their right to increase profits by making your job more dangerous,” added Trumka, who was paid $304,121 with money taken from workers in AFL-CIO member unions during the coalition’s most recent fiscal year.

The “‘Right to Work’ is Wrong” infographic West Virginia AFL-CIO is using summarizes talking points union bosses have circulated for years. Results have been mixed, even with help from credulous newspaper reporters.

Since 2012, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have all implemented right-to-work over union warnings of dire economic consequences and electoral revenge. Voters in each state continue to support lawmakers who support right-to-work.

The West Virginia AFL-CIO failed to respond to questions from Watchdog.org about how workers’ rights and safety are endangered by letting workers choose whether to pay unions.

“It’s not surprising that union bosses are using inaccurate scare tactics to protect their fat cat salaries at the expense of West Virginia workers’ freedom,” Americans for Prosperity West Virginia state director Jason Huffman told Watchdog.org.

“Right-to-work is simple: it allows employees to make the decision of union membership for themselves, which ensures that unions serve our workers instead of far left labor bosses in Washington,” Huffman said.

“Instead of convincing folks how they can serve workers, the AFL-CIO has resorted to a misleading campaign of fear so they can continue to force West Virginians desperately in need of work to either pay dues, or remain unemployed.”

West Virginia’s 2016 legislative session begins January 13.

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Jason is an Ohio-based reporter covering labor issues for Watchdog.org, with a focus on right-to-work, public employee unions and Obamacare. Before joining Watchdog, Jason was communications director for Media Trackers Ohio. His work has been featured at FoxNews.com, Hot Air, The Daily Signal, RedState, Townhall and elsewhere. His investigations into labor union spending and Obamacare's Medicaid expansion have been cited by national commentators including Jim Geraghty, Michelle Malkin, Erick Erickson, Dana Loesch and Mark Levin. Jason can be reached on Twitter at @jasonahart and by email at jhart@watchdog.org