CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—According to the Communications/Campaign director for the West Virginia AFL-CIO, a judge has granted a preliminary injunction of a bill passed earlier this year that would prevent state employees from having union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.
A coalition of public employees, including the Communications Workers of America, the West Virginia AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, The International Union, United Mine Workers of America, the Professional Firefighters of West Virginia, and many others (12 in total), filed suit in order to block this new law.
“As is clearly stated in our circuit court filing, the so-called ‘Paycheck Protection’ Act discriminates against organized public employees who seek to ensure safe workplaces and fair treatment by their employers, and was passed by this legislative majority purely out of spite,” WV AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said. “House Bill 2009 selectively and discriminately prohibits paycheck deductions for public employees and their unions, a practice that has gone on for more than 50 years without a problem, while still allowing hundreds of other paycheck deductions to remain in place. It is blatant vindictiveness, and it’s a violation of these employees’ constitutional rights.”
The lawsuit claims that the law violates the equal protection and contract clauses of the West Virginia Constitution and discriminates against the viewpoints of certain employees, which could be considered a violation of free speech.
The coalition also points out that Governor Jim Justice vetoed a similar bill in 2017, stating, “This bill creates a significant hardship on employers and employees for a convenient practice that has become commonplace in today’s society, authorizing employee payroll deductions.”
At the time, he said the bill created an “unnecessary burden” on employers, but he has since signed this new bill into law.
“In a time when our public employees, particularly our police, firefighters, corrections officers and other first responders, have kept us safe and healthy in the face of a deadly pandemic, Governor Justice and legislative leaders locked the doors of the Capitol, then wasted time and taxpayer moneys on bills like this during this year’s legislative session,” Sword said. “It’s disgraceful, and not surprising, that so many West Virginia citizens have no confidence in state government leaders.”
The full suit can be read below: