Right to Work is Great for Virginia

Last week, HB 426, the “Fair Share Fees” bill sponsored by Dick Saslaw, was passed by indefinitely. This is a good thing. Virginia’s Right to Work law is a cornerstone of Virginia being a great state to do business. In fact, according to Forbes, Virginia is ranked #4.

There are valid reasons for not repealing Right to Work. But don’t just take my word for it. Last week, the Department of Planning and Budget released their Fiscal Impact Statement on just what would happen if the General Assembly went ahead with it. You can read it here.  And you should — because the effects on Virginia’s economy would have been devastating. Of note:

More than 70% of corporate executives and more than 78% of site-selection consultants indicated it is “important” or “very important” for a state to have “right to work” for location decisions.  Site-selection consultants and businesses have communicated to VEDP that this change in policy would impact Virginia’s competitiveness for economic development projects, primarily in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors. Prospects and site consultants typically want to know Virginia’s position on “right to work” early in the selection process.

Many manufacturing prospects only will consider new locations in “right to work” states. Over the previous 18 months, Virginia announced nearly 60 projects in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors that represented 8,400 jobs and $6 billion in capital investment. VEDP believes many of these announcements would not have occurred if Virginia were not a “right to work” state at the time the companies made their location decisions.  VEDP is currently working on 349 potential projects in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors with more than 37,000 total jobs and more than $11 billion in capital investment.

And more:

VEDP conservatively estimates that repeal of Virginia’s “right to work” status would result in the loss of new project announcements representing thousands of manufacturing and supply chain jobs, particularly in rural and small metro areas, and that the Commonwealth would lose approximately $9-25 million in state general fund revenue per year from our current prospect pipeline, a loss of revenue that would grow over time as Virginia is not considered for future projects or is not selected due to changes in its “right to work” status.

Simply put, repealing Right to Work is bad for business. But that’s not all. Virginia’s Right to Work law is a matter of freedom. Repealing it limits worker freedom because it “requires as a condition of employment any employee who is not a member of such labor union or labor organization and is a member of a collective bargaining unit, where the labor union or labor organization is the exclusive representative of the members of the collective bargaining unit, to pay a fair share fee to compensate the labor union or labor organization for the costs of representing the nonmember employee.” (Quote directly from HB 426).

Freedom is important to Americans. In fact, 28 states have Right to Work laws. What’s more? The Wall Street Journal reported last month that union membership fell to just 10.3 percent, “the lowest portion on record since 1983,” according to the Labor Department.

Need more? Even SCOTUS agrees, at least in the realm of government workers. The 2018 Janus v AFSCME decision “banned provisions in union contracts requiring union-represented government workers to either join the union or pay a fee. The ruling effectively instituted right-to-work rules for public-sector workers in nearly two dozen states that didn’t have such laws, which allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that the US News article which cites Virginia as the worst for worker’s rights was based on a dubious study done by the anti-poverty group, Oxfam.  Oxfam compiled its rankings on “three areas of policy that Oxfam thinks will help working families get out of poverty.” Unsurprisingly, these included minimum wage policies, worker protection policies, and right to organize policies. But then they didn’t rank states on their rates of poverty (Virginia is #11!); they ranked them on which states touted their policy lines the best.

By the way, Virginia Free did a great job deconstructing the Oxfam study and pointing out all the areas where Virginia ranks well. Check it out.

Right to Work is good for Virginia. But rest assured — this probably won’t be the last time we see this repeal effort in Virginia. We must defend against it.

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