CHARLESTON – The state Chamber of Commerce is behind state Sen. Karen Facemyer's proposal to make West Virginia a right-to-work state.
In a release Feb. 7, state Chamber President Steve Roberts said his group thinks "all ideas are worthy of consideration and shouldn't be dismissed just because some critics attempt to shout them down."
"Everyone should understand the labor unions that oppose this concept are in lock-step with Barack Obama, and support his policies -- just as they did with the failed Obama stimulus package," Roberts said. "West Virginia should be open to those ideas that could be potential job creators."
Being a right-to-work state means a worker can't be forced to join and pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Twenty-three states and the federal government currently have some type of right-to-work law. Indiana became the 23rd state just last week.
"Senator Facemyer has been a member of the Legislature for nearly 20 years and has always been a proponent of the state getting back to what really matters to keep our economy vibrant," Robert said. "She has been a strong advocate for students and the need to educate them for future jobs in West Virginia. As a small business operator and president of the Polymer Alliance Zone, Senator Facemyer sees first hand every day the need to consider all ideas to improve West Virginia's future ... no matter who's for or against the idea."
Roberts quoted statistics that show West Virginia has seen its workforce decline from 771,000 in 2008 to 714,000 in 2011.
"Various national indicators point to such legislation being a positive factor in economic development," Robert said. "As an example, one needs to look no further than Virginia, a right-to-work state which experienced a workforce increase from 2008 to 2011 even as our workforce declined."
Introducing the bill Monday, Facemyer, R-Jackson, acknowledged it has little chance of passage in the state Senate.
State AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue told The Charleston Daily Mail that the state needs more than right-to-work legislation.
"That is the most obscene fallacy that they use — to blame somebody for the failure of something without looking at themselves," Perdue told the Daily Mail. "They use right to work as the issue when the unions have done everything they can to help — more than what businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and other entities have offered to help.
"The fallacies that are out there right now — workers are lazy and all they want to do is collect unemployment, we've got workers that are using drugs all over the place, and we can't find anyone to fill these jobs because they can't pass drug tests, and we've got this judicial hellhole without tort reform — the only ones who believe that are the Chamber and (Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse)."