A Majority of States Now Have Right-to-Work Laws

West Virginia overrode the governor’s veto to become the 26th state to undercut union participation.

Protesters march in Madison, Wisconsin, against a "right-to-work" proposal last year. Twenty-six states have now passed right-to-work laws.Steve Apps, Wisconsin State Journal/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


West Virginia, once a bastion of organized labor, will soon join the ranks of the right-to-work states that have undercut union participation. The Republican-dominated state legislature on Friday overrode Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a right-to-work bill, becoming the 26th state in the nation to pass such legislation.

Right-to-work laws bar unions from negotiating contracts that require all workers represented by a union to pay dues—in effect guaranteeing workers the union’s protections and representation regardless of whether they contribute. The laws are broadly understood to weaken unions.

The bill faced fierce opposition from unions, who organized protests at the state capitol and launched TV and radio ad campaigns to fight the legislation. But it also had money behind it, courtesy of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers that has lobbied for right-to-work laws across the nation. One of the West Virginia bill’s key proponents, Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Senate president Bill Cole, touted his efforts to pass the right-to-work bill at a Palm Springs retreat organized by the Kochs earlier this year.

According to the US Census Bureau, West Virginia had a higher poverty rate than all but 10 states between 2011 and 2013. Many communities have been hit hard by the loss of thousands of mining jobs in recent years. Republican lawmakers claimed that loosening labor laws was necessary to attract businesses to the state. Democrats have argued that it will ultimately hurt workers, and that the bill was aimed primarily at diminishing unions’ political clout.

The right-to-work law will go into effect on July 1.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate