AG's office asks Supreme Court to overturn right-to-work injunction

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 8, 2017

CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office has filed a petition to overturn a preliminary injunction against a right-to-work law passed in last year’s legislative session.

Morrisey’s office filed the petition March 7 with the state Supreme Court, seeking an expedited ruling. The petition says Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey was wrong in issuing the preliminary injunction in August.

“The negative impact caused by this injunction demands immediate relief,” Morrisey said in a statement. “I urge the state Supreme Court to consider our arguments and reach an expedited decision so as to eliminate confusion and mitigate damage to our state.”

The state Legislature passed the law last session. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode that veto. The law went into effect July 1

Unions supported Bailey’s injunction, saying workers who don’t pay some form of dues in a workplace represented by a union would receive the benefits of collective bargaining without providing financial help.

Last month, Bailey filed the written version of the preliminary injunction, saying it was needed until a more broad ruling is made.

“If … employees can obtain the services of a union to negotiate and administer a contract without having to pay either union dues or the agency fees, they would — naturally and predictably — be seriously discouraged from joining a union,” Bailey wrote. “Why, the employee would ask, should I pay for something that the law requires be made available to me for nothing?”

In his petition, state Solicitor General Elbert Lin says the injunction has caused problems for the state and confusion for employees, unions and employers.

“The circuit court erred in preliminarily enjoining Senate Bill 1 … because Respondents cannot show a likelihood of success, or even a substantial question, on the merits of their claims, Respondents have failed to show any irreparable harm and both the State and the public will be irreparably harmed by the injunction,” he wrote.

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Virginia Attorney General's Office West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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