Feb 12, 2016 - 2:45pm

26 and Counting…


Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

The business community has a new reason to take a second look at the Mountaineer State, as monumental labor reform became law today.  It didn’t happen without some contentious debate, but the results will reverberate throughout the country. 

The debate had been framed since before the second session of the 82nd Legislature even convened.  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s opposition to right to work was well known.  The resolve of the Senate leadership, who made Workplace Freedom their first introduced bill, was just as obvious. 

The initial vote was taken in the Senate, and the bill passed by the slimmest majority, along party lines.  The House of Delegates then passed the bill after a five hour long debate.  But the Legislature expected a veto, so yesterday’s decision by the Governor to return the bill to the Legislature without his approval came as no surprise. 

The West Virginia legislative process is somewhat unique in the ability of the Legislature to override the Governor’s veto with a simple majority, and so the process began this morning to enact the Workplace Freedom Act, Senate Bill 1, despite the Governor’s veto. 

The votes were quickly dispatched in the Senate and House within ten minutes of each other.  The Senate voted 18-16 in favor of the override, and the House of Delegates followed shortly thereafter, 54-43. 

Today’s action makes West Virginia the 26th right to work state in the nation, joining states such as Michigan and Indiana that recently adopted workplace freedom laws.  Supporters in the Legislature see the adoption of workplace freedom as another positive change to the business climate and expect this change to be useful to economic development authorities promoting West Virginia.

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Glenn Spencer Headshot
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.