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West Virginia Right to Work Laws

Like the state motto says, "Mountaineers are always free," and they're also always working hard. Well-known for our coal production, but maybe less well-known for our booming biotech and chemical industries, West Virginia makes the country go. And while we may not all love our boss, we all want to be treated well and compensated fairly for the work that we do.

In some larger industries, employees have formed unions to advocate on their behalf when negotiating with management and some states have passed laws that regulate the relationship between unions, employees, and employers. Here is a quick introduction to "right-to-work" laws in West Virginia.

Right to Work Laws

Around half of all states have "right-to-work" laws, some of which have appeared in their state constitutions for decades while others have been written into their state codes recently. Basically, these laws prohibit unions and employers from requiring non-union employees at unionized work sites to pay monthly dues in order to obtain or retain a job. Although these laws usually prohibit compulsory union membership as well, that already is prohibited under federal law.

Right to Work Statutes in West Virginia at a Glance

Code Section

West Virginia Code §21-1A-3

Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc.

Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities, including the right to refrain from paying any dues, fees, assessments or other similar charges however denominated of any kind or amount to a labor organization or to any third party including, but not limited to, a charity in lieu of a payment to a labor organization.

Prohibited Activity

Employers and labor unions may not require non-union employees to pay dues or fees to cover the cost of union representation or collective bargaining.

How Right to Work Laws Work

Right-to-work statutes are intended to regulate the relationship between employers, employees, and unions by preventing employers or unions from requiring payment of dues by non-union employees to cover the costs of representation and collective bargaining. While many of these laws also prohibit mandatory union membership at unionized workplaces, that already is prohibited under federal law. Due to the recent nature of the trend of right-to-work laws, and the legal entanglements they face in some states, economic studies have yet to conclude the what effect, if any, the laws will have on union membership, wages, and collective bargaining agreements.

West Virginia Right to Work Laws: Related Resources

State employment and union regulations are constantly evolving. FindLaw's Employee Rights Center can provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with a West Virginia labor attorney if you would like legal help regarding an employment or union matter in regard to the state's right to work law.

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