On April 21, F. Vincent Vernuccio, the director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center, participated in a panel entitled “Labor Equality for All: Lessons from West Virginia” at the Heritage Resource Bank meeting in Philadelphia.
Vernuccio joined Garrett Ballengee, the president of the West Virginia’s Cardinal Institute; Danielle Waltz, a lawyer with the Charleston, West Virginia-based law firm Jackson Kelly; and James Sherk, an expert in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation.
Members of the panel detailed the behind-the-scenes story of how West Virginia became the 26th right-to-work state. One especially encouraging fact came out: Almost all of the nonelected individuals pushing the effort forward were less than 35 years old. The new generation values worker freedom and isn’t afraid of the union juggernaut. Thanks to their hard work and the actions of a legislative majority, unions in West Virginia can no longer get workers fired for not paying them.
The Mackinac Center came up during the discussion, especially its work, “Labor Reform in the States, a Video Timeline.” The video showed that elected officials could vote for worker freedom without fear of political reprisals.
Another part of the panel dealt with a recent setback in Wisconsin, where a Dane County judge ruled that the state’s right-to-work law violated the takings clause of the Wisconsin Constitution — essentially calling unionized workers the property of the union.
Vernuccio mentioned his solution to what unions call a free rider problem: Worker’s Choice, which would allow unions to not represent those not paying them and also let workers fully opt-out of union representation. Such an arrangement is not currently possible anywhere, even in right-to-work states.
More details on the West Virginia story can be found in the March/April 2016 IMPACT article, “Majority of States Now Right-to-Work: How the Mackinac Center spreads worker freedom in other states.”