CHARLESTON – The National Right to Work Foundation’s offer to
provide free legal aid to any employees seeking to assert their rights under a
new Right to Work law has drawn interest in West Virginia.
“We have fielded a number of calls from West Virginia
workers so far, and I expect many more to come as old grandfathered contracts
with forced dues clauses expire and more employees are able to take advantages
of the Right to Work protections,” Patrick Semmens, vice president for public information
for the foundation, told The West
West Virginia workers are not the only ones taking advantage
of the foundation’s legal aid offer.
“Nationwide, foundation staff attorneys are currently
representing thousands of employees in around 200 ongoing cases,” Semmens said.
In addition to the legal aid offer, the foundation also
created a special task force to defend the West Virginia law, which went into
full effect July 1, from legal challenges from organized labor.
Semmens said the foundation establishes a special legal task
forces when a state passes a Right to Work law to inform workers of their new
legal rights under the law and offer free legal advice in exercising this
rights, as well as to defend the law in court against union lawsuits, which he
said are often filed with the goal of stopping or at least delaying workers’
ability to opt out of mandatory union dues.
“This is especially necessary because in our experience,
union officials frequently ignore Right to Work protections or attempt to block
workers from exercising their rights under the Right to Work law,” Semmens
said. “For example, we currently have over 30 cases ongoing in Michigan
relating to their new Right to Work law, which took effect in 2013.”
The foundation announced the creation of a special task
force in February. When the task force was formed, the foundation said staff
attorneys would offer free legal advice and aid to West Virginia workers
seeking to exercise their rights to refrain from union membership and union dues
payment, which are guaranteed by the Right to Work law.
West Virginia legislators overrode Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s
veto of Right to Work legislation on Feb. 12. Under the law, which the
foundation said applies to monopoly bargaining contracts entered into,
modified, renewed or extended after July 1, workers will no longer be required
to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment once any union monopoly
bargaining agreement in effect on or before June 30 is modified, renewed or
Recently, the foundation served an amicus curiae brief in
defense of West Virginia’s Right to Work law in response to lawsuits filed by
10 state unions that claim that West Virginia’s Right to Work law is different
from the other 25 state Right to Work Laws and that Right to Work laws
unconstitutionally force union officials to “represent” nonunion employees
The foundation said in the brief that the National Labor
Relations Act compensates unions by granting them immense workplace power to
impose a one-size-fits-all union contract on all employees in a
union-controlled bargaining unit.