Tuesday, February 23, 2016

West Virginia Passes Right-to-Work Law

West Virginia recently became the 26th state to pass a right-to-work law. One of the more unionized states in the country, West Virginia has followed the trend of other traditionally labor-friendly states, like Wisconsin and Michigan, of passing right-to-work legislation. 

Right-to-work laws make it illegal for non-union members to be required to pay union dues or for employees to be required to join a union. Federal law gives states the authority to pass right-to-work legislation. 26 states have passed such laws, most of them in the South and West, although a number of Mid-Western states have recently passed right-to-work legislation.  

Critics of right-to-work laws say that they allow non-union employees to be free-riders, since they get the benefits negotiated by a union (i.e. higher wages, better healthcare, etc.) without having to pay for the union to negotiate. 

Supporters of right-to-work laws argue that it is unfair for unions to force employees to become members. They also point out that businesses have been more likely to relocate to right-to-work states, and that right-to-work states, like Texas, Florida, and Utah, have created more jobs than non-right-to-work states in recent years. 

In Illinois, Governor Rauner has strongly supported right-to-work legislation. Perhaps realizing that the strength of Illinois’s labor movement would make passing a statewide right to work law impractical, he has encouraged local governments to pass their own right-to-work laws. Lincolnshire recently became the first local government to pass such a law. 

Local governments that are interested in passing their own right-to-work law may want to consider consulting with Ancel Glink’s labor and employment department. We have a number of attorneys familiar with this type of legislation who could provide tips on how to draft a right-to-work ordinance that would not get struck down by a court.