The controversial labor law was approved by the Legislature just over three years ago. It said that employees in a union workplace should not have to pay dues if they chose not to become union members.

Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey tossed out the law saying it amounted to the taking of union resources.

Proponents said it would create more jobs in West Virginia, but unions disagreed.

“We’ve seen job growth go down throughout West Virginia,” said Josh Sword, President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO. “So, it’s not leading to anything related to a positive impact on our economy. It’s done nothing but make it more difficult for unions to do what they do best, and that represents workers.” 

Those who backed Right-to-Work say it’s the prerogative of legislative authority.

“The main benefit is flexibility with employment. I mean, this isn’t something we came up with in a back room here in Charleston,” said Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld (R-Brooke). “This is a labor law practice that goes back to the 40s and is in place in well over half the states of the United States.” 

Backers call the law pro-business, and will appeal.

“Allowing the Supreme Court to finally and fully address the issue, like other states have, will allow some clarity and will allow some businesses to know that West Virginia is open for business,” said Danilelle Waltz, of the WV Workplace Freedom Coalition.

Opponents say it’s anti-union.

“We believed all along that this was an unconstitutional law created by some hard-core, anti-labor leadership legislators,” said House Minority Whip Mike Caputo (D-Marion). 

27 states have right to work laws.

All sides will have 30-days to review the judges decision in this case, but then it’s more than likely the case will wind up at the West Virginia State Supreme Court of Appeals.

Of the five states that border West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia have right-to-work laws. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland do not.