Katie Gage

West Virginia is a state known for its dramatic landscape and vast natural resources, including forests for logging and mines for coal. Its citizens are known as tough and hard working. Organized labor has long had a strong presence in the state. But as in many other states, the number of unionized workers in West Virginia has diminished significantly in recent years. In fact, the workforce in The Mountain State represented by unions fell to 15.3% in 2008 as compared to 28.3% in 1983.

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Desperate for union dues, union bosses in West Virginia are looking to force small businesses to unionize at any cost. Many have been advocating for the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act or EFCA, which would eliminate the secret ballot and empower government bureaucrats to mandate contract terms on employers and employees alike without their consent. Labor bosses from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in West Virginia, among others, have been active in supporting EFCA.

Furthermore, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO hails from the region’s mining industry and has a sordid past in the state. All of this tells us that The Mountain State is central to the ongoing debate concerning the effects forced unionization would have on industries and businesses.

One needs to look no further than the tactics employed in West Virginia by union bosses like Trumka to understand how damaging and dangerous it would be to provide Big Labor with increased political power and resources. If EFCA is enacted, the number of union members would increase significantly and as a result, union dues would flow. That means that in the first ten years, Big Labor bosses would have at least 35 billion additional dollars to spend on rewarding allies and punishing opponents.

If we use Big Labor’s past in West Virginia as a measuring stick, giving more power and control to people like Trumka should instill fear in many people’s hearts. Why? Well, just look at Trumka’s track record in West Virginia. Trumka led strikes that resulted in thousands of criminal violations all in the name of promoting his goals. Strikers committed violence, vandalism, destruction of property, serial intimidation, and endangered people’s lives. A strike captain even shot and killed a heavy-equipment operator who was working during the strike, leaving his wife and three children without a husband and father.

Katie Gage

Katie Gage is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness institute.