The Corner

Economy & Business

Democrats in Virginia Target State’s Right to Work Law for Repeal

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam delivers remarks in Richmond, Va., October 19, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Virginia was among the first states to enact a Right to Work (RTW) statute following the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The law protects workers who are compelled to accept union representation under the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) against being fired for a refusal to pay union dues. The labor movement, which has thrived on legal coercion since the days of the New Deal, hates RTW laws since it wants to maximize its monetary haul from workers. Much of that haul is then recycled into helping Democrats win elections.

As Virginia writer and attorney Hans Bader writes here, Democrats in his state have made repeal of RTW a top priority if they take control of the legislature. It’s a key component of their “progressive” agenda, although it’s impossible to see what is progressive about taking freedom of choice away from workers just because a majority decides it wants a union. It isn’t progressive, but atavistic to force people to pay for services they don’t want and may regard as contrary to their interests and beliefs.

Bader points out a new wrinkle in the case the Democrats are making — that the law must be “racist” because it was passed at a time when segregationists were in control of the state. That claim is simply absurd, he points out: “But there is no reason to believe that the Virginia legislature had any racist motive for passing the right-to-work law. Northern states with no history of segregation passed the same right-to-work law Virginia did. Iowa and the Dakotas did so in the very same year, 1947.”

RTW laws protect the liberty of every worker who doesn’t want to support an incumbent union. Often, minority workers have been the victims of union aggression and they have as much right and reason to use the protection given by those laws as do all other workers. To declare that RTW is “racist” shows just how stupid the “progressives” think they have made the electorate with public schooling and constant propaganda.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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