The Corner

Why West Virginia Is Likely to Become the 26th Right-to-Work State

West Virginia seems almost certain to soon become American’s 26th right-to-work state. Republicans took control of both houses of the West Virginia legislature in 2014. State legislative leaders have made passing right-to-work this year a top priority. It only takes a simple majority to override a veto in West Virginia, so final passage seems assured. The state senate passed right-to-work last Thursday, and the house seems set to follow suit.

Unions object that this is a plot to destroy unions. But oddly enough, Right-to-work laws say nothing about prohibiting collective bargaining. They only prevent workers from being forced to pay union dues. Without right-to-work, union contracts make paying union dues a condition of employment. The National Labor Relations Act prevents dissatisfied workers from negotiating different terms for themselves.

This coercion offends most Americans. Even Americans who view labor unions favorably believe supporting them should be voluntary. Polling shows West Virginians support right-to-work by a 60-to-23-percent margin. Right-to-work would not poll nearly so favorably in West Virginia if it actually destroyed organized labor. It does not. It does force unions to earn their members’ support instead of taking it for granted.

That latter point probably weighs heavily on West Virginians. The Obama administration’s “war on coal” has devastated the state’s economy. But the United Mine Workers endorsed the Obama in 2008, despite knowing full well he supported anti-coal policies. Nonetheless, mine workers disgusted with their unions’ actions must still pay union dues. If workers had the ability to opt out, the union would be much more attentive to their views.

Even top union executives understand this. As Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, explained to the Washington Post:

This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.

To which the West Virginia legislature seems set to say: “Quite so.”

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More
World

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More
Culture

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More
White House

For Democrats, the Party’s Over

If the Democrats are really tempted by impeachment, bring it on. Since the day after the 2016 election they have been threatening this, placing their chips on the Russian-collusion fantasy and then on the phantasmagoric charade of obstruction of justice. The attorney general accurately gave the ingredients of the ... Read More