The following is the first of what will be occasional dispatches from a Teamster on the ground about the battle to defeat so-called right-to-work (RTW) in West Virginia this year.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We arrived yesterday, greeted by a gusty snowfall on the way into Charleston — hopefully nothing compared to last year, where West Virginians braved the coldest winter in 20 years as they fought (and successfully defeated) state lawmakers' previous attempt to pass RTW here. Once again, Teamster Nation is on-the-scene to report from the Mountaineer State.
|Okla. union members spoke out against RTW today.|
After a year of preparations, the day West Virginia workers have long been waiting for has finally come. The first day of the legislative session is here, and the gloves are off —
and union members are ready for the fight of their working lives.
They have long been aware that the future of their state hangs in the balance of pending RTW legislation, which, according to delegates, could be introduced in the Legislature as early as tonight, following Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State address. IBT General Secretary-Treasurer and Local 175 President Ken Hall has been leading the fight for months, appearing on television and writing op-eds to warn his fellow Mountaineers what is at stake. Today, he is set for a full day at the Statehouse.
We are just halfway through the day, and already there is much to report. The day began with a press conference with union members from the Oklahoma, who delivered their cautionary tales of what West Virginia should expect should the legislature pass RTW:
We’ve lost stable and gainful employment in my state. The so-called RTW law is an unnecessary government intrusion. Since passing in Oklahoma, too many unions are unable to negotiate contracts and thousands of jobs have been sent to Mexico.
There will be more workers from RTW states as well as academics on hand throughout the afternoon at the Statehouse today, so stay tuned for more on Teamster Nation to hear what they have to say. In the meantime, we will be with GST Hall as he prepares for an action later this afternoon before the State of the State address, where workers are planning to crowd the rotunda and tell delegates "Not In My State." In an op-ed that ran in the Charleston Gazette-Mail today, Hall gave a preview of what he plans to tell the elected officials:
Right-to-work won’t create jobs. It is only an attack on unions, plain and simple, and union jobs that provide fair wages and benefits to workers. West Virginians deserve to hear the truth and they aren’t getting it from our Senate or House leadership and certainly not from the Chamber of Commerce.