• Virginians for Employee Free Choice Coalition Working to Preserve Right-to-Work Law

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    January 24, 2020
    January 23, 2020
    Contact: Taylor Keeney
    (804) 788-8242

    Virginians for Employee Free Choice Coalition Working to Preserve Right-to-Work Law
    RICHMOND – Virginians for Employee Free Choice announced its formation today during Chamber Day at the Capitol, the annual gathering of business leaders and regional chambers of commerce during the General Assembly Session. Virginians for Employee Free Choice is a coalition of businesses and business interests large and small from across the Commonwealth focused on one legislative priority: preserving Virginia’s long-standing Right-to-Work law.
    Right-to-Work allows employees to go to work and do their job without being forced to join a union. Right-to-Work laws expressly do not prohibit unions from organizing in Virginia; the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of workers in right-to-work states to unionize. Without Right-to-Work protections, workers would be forced to pay dues, or a fee for not participating, as a condition of employment.
    “Preserving Virginia’s right-to-work law is the single most important pro-business, job-creating issue this General Assembly Session,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We have seen major economic development projects for the Commonwealth over the last several years and our right-to-work law has been a vital component in securing these transformational projects. Additionally, this policy has meant that businesses small and large continue to choose Virginia to create jobs. This coalition is focused on ensuring right-to-work is preserved to secure the economic future of the Commonwealth.”
    Right-to-work laws are crucial to maintaining Virginia’s competitiveness. Virginia re-gained the top state for business by CNBC in 2019, due in part to right-to-work. The law positively impacts the state’s position in major business climate rankings, which use Right-to-Work as a key component when evaluating “best for business” status.  Companies also consider Right-to-Work laws as a major factor in deciding where to locate or expand. Companies will look to other states to set up operations if Virginia’s Right-to-Work law is changed, putting the state at a competitive disadvantage.
    “Virginia consistently ranks as a top state for business because of our pro-business climate,” said Patrick Gottschalk, former Secretary of Commerce and Trade under then-Governor Tim Kaine and a partner at Williams Mullen. “That pro-business climate includes laws that are hospitable to both businesses and employees, including Virginia’s Right-to-Work law. Right-to-Work is an important pillar of our economic competitiveness. Today, the Commonwealth is winning big economic development projects yielding thousands of good-paying jobs for Virginians because of Right-to-Work.”
    Right-to-Work is good for both employers and employees. A study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting from 2010 to 2016 found that wages in Right-to-Work states grew 36 percent, while non-Right-to-Work states only saw wages grow 26 percent.
    “When a business considers Virginia for an initial investment or an expansion, one of the first questions asked is ‘are you a Right-to-Work state?” said Danielle Fitz-Hugh, president and CEO of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce. “Time and again, we have seen companies choose Virginia, and choose Chesterfield, because we have a pro-business climate that is friendly to both employers and employees. Preserving and protecting  Right-to-Work is good for the Commonwealth and good for Virginians to ensure we are able to both compete for economic development projects and continue seeing new, good paying jobs being created.”
    In addition to legislation that has been introduced to completely repeal Right-to-Work (HB 153), so-called “fair share” legislation (SB 426) has been advanced which would gut the law in the same way that full repeal would. “Fair share,” also called an agency fee, would result in labor contracts which will require employees who don’t join the union to pay all or some portion of the union’s dues.
    The fair share law proposed would make Virginia Right-to-Work in name only. Forcing employees to either pay or join the union or lose their jobs undermines the intent of Right-to-Work. This is tantamount to repealing Virginia’s long-standing Right-to-Work law. It would have the same impact on economic development as an outright repeal of Right-to-Work.
    “Any change to Virginia’s Right-to-Work law will have serious consequences on our ability to recruit and retain employers small and large,” said Alexis Ehrhardt, president and CEO of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. “A ‘fair share’ provision is no different than a repeal of Right-to-Work and would deter employers from locating in Virginia. Keeping our Right-to-Work law untouched gives us a competitive advantage in the attraction of new businesses and the expansion of existing industries that want to grow – especially in rural areas like Southern Virginia where we are working hard to modernize and diversify our economy.”
    Right-to-Work has broad support across the country. Twenty-seven states have Right-to-Work laws, and a 2014 Gallup poll found that 71 percent of voters would vote for Right-to-Work laws, including 65 percent of Democrats.
    “All employees should have the right to seek the best opportunities available to them for the sake of their families and well-being,” said Suzy Kelly, CEO of Jo-Kell, a Chesapeake-based electrical distributor and solutions provider serving the military, commercial marine, and industrial markets. “Employees should have the right to decide their employment options and never be compelled to join and pay dues to a union. As a Virginia business owner, the Right to Work statute simply makes good business sense for my company, my employees, and the economy.  This policy has allowed our company to grow and expand in Virginia over the last 40 years from a small business working out of a garage to over 75 employees today.”
    “Northern Virginia is seeing record-breaking job growth,” said Ross Snare, Director of Communications and Government Affairs for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. “That growth is because of Virginia’s pro-business climate and has resulted in us beating out both our competitors in the metro region and other states time and again. A repeal or change to Virginia’s Right-to-Work law will mean that Virginians across the state will lose out on jobs.”
    To learn more about Virginians for Employee Free Choice and Right-to-Work in Virginia, visit vaemployeechoice.com.