National foundation files amicus brief in state Supreme Court defending Right to Work law

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 30, 2017

CHARLESTON – An amicus brief has been filed by The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in a lawsuit filed against the state by West Virginia AFL-CIO.

The brief was filed March 28 for the National Right to Work Foundation and Reginald Gibbs, an employee of the Greenbrier Hotel and Casino.

Gibbs supports the state’s Right to Work Law and the protections it provides workers like him who, without Right to Work, could be fired for refusing to pay money to a union.

Gibbs filed a motion to intervene in the case in December, but his motion was denied by Kanawha Circuit Court.

West Virginia passed the Right to Work law in February 2016 and the National Right to Work Foundation offered free legal aid to any employees seeking to assert their rights under the new law.

The Foundation also created a special task force to defend the West Virginia law in court from any legal challenges.

“West Virginia’s popular new Right to Work law is a victory for workplace freedom, but union officials never relinquish their forced-dues privileges without a fight,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than being accountable by offering workers honest services they are willing to voluntarily pay for, Big Labor continues to pursue lawsuits against the very workers they claim to ‘represent,’ raising spurious legal claims in the hopes that a judge will ignore the nearly 70 years of precedent that upholds Right to Work protections.”

Gibbs has been employed as a lead slot machine technician at The Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs and is a member of a bargaining unit exclusively represented by Laborers’ International Union of North America Local Union No. 1182, but he is not a member of the union.

Local 1182 and The Greenbrier have a collective bargaining agreement containing a union security clause, which expires Feb. 1, 2018, and although Gibbs is not a member of the union, under the collective bargaining agreement he is compelled to pay a fee to Local 1182 to keep his job at The Greenbrier, according to the amicus brief.

Gibbs claims pursuant to the Right to Work law, once the current contract expires on Feb. 1, 2018, or is modified, renewed or extended, he will no longer be compelled to pay the union any fee as a condition of his employment.

As an employee in West Virginia, Gibbs’ interest in the case is in ensuring that he will receive the protections guaranteed by the Workplace Freedom Act, according to the amicus brief.

In his December motion to intervene, Gibbs argued that, if the law is overturned or blocked by a judicial order, it would force Gibbs to continue to pay fees to a union with which he does not wish to associate.

Gibbs wished to intervene to support the law because he believed that it is his right to be free from compulsory unionism, and as a worker currently employed at a location with a compulsory unionism agreement, he will suffer from direct harm if union lawyers win their case.

Although the State of West Virginia is already defending the law in the case, the December motion noted that Gibbs has a special interest in defending Right to Work and his attorneys can offer legal arguments distinct from those raised by state lawyers.

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of successfully defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court. In addition to West Virginia, Foundation staff attorneys have taken legal action to defend and enforce new Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri, all of which have passed Right to Work protections for employees since 2012.

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