A coalition of advocacy organizations representing West Virginia workers filed lawsuits to block retaliatory legislation that eliminates the right of union members to pay their dues through payroll deduction. The law, HB 2009, also prohibits employee sponsored insurance, cancer insurance, memorial funds or charitable and scholarship contributions to be paid for through payroll deduction. It is set to take effect June 17.
Filing lawsuits are organizations representing tens of thousands of public employees, including educators, law enforcement officers, first responders, fire fighters as well as state and municipal employees. The cases have been consolidated and will be heard before Judge Tera L. Salango on June 14.
The lawsuits, filed May 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court, called out HB 2009 as being a “blatant and vindictive retaliatory” move by lawmakers and a “a violation of employees’ constitutional rights.”
“Freedom is an essential right and public education employees have the right to spend their paychecks as they see fit,” said WVEA President Dale Lee said. “The law clearly violates our rights and it is clearly retaliation for standing together for public schools by going on strike in 2018 and 2019.”
Governor Jim Justice signed HB 2009 into law on March 30. He vetoed the same legislation in 2017 saying the bill (SB 239) was an “unnecessary burden on employers” and “a convenient practice that has become commonplace in today’s society, authorizing employee payroll deductions.” Lee noted that in a not so surprising flip-flop, Justice joined in on the retaliation by signing HB 2009.
The coalition of advocacy organizations involved in the lawsuit include:
- Communications Workers of America, District 2-13; CWA/NCPSO Local 2055
- West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation; CWA Local 2001
- West Virginia Education Association
- West Virginia State Troopers Association Local 2019
- District 8 of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union
- West Virginia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police
- West Virginia School Service Personnel Association
- Professional Firefighters of America
- United Mine Workers of America International
- West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration Agency
- American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia
- West Virginia AFL-CIO