Labor unions talk about Right to Work vote

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CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) Virginia is currently a right-to-work state and has been since 1947. This November, voters will have to decide if they would like to make Virginia an anti-union state.

Members in unions like Volvo or Hubbel in Southwest Virginia said they like having protection against employers.

"The union has supported me financially, which giving very little back," Robert Patterson a union member said.

Union leaders said having that protection is vital, it helps them fight employers for better pay.

"Without labor unions, employers have the right to do whatever they want to you, your hours of work, your benefits," Penny Franklin, the Union President said.

Dr. Thomas Duncan is an expert in economics at Radford University about the right to work and said Virginia has a been right-to-work state since 1940s and Duncan said there are pros and cons of unions.

"Pros and cons is good when they have some say in the organization, yes you would typically not like to be fired for no reason, but if you're actually unproductive should you be fired, but you're protected, that's the debate," Duncan said.

In November that could change, due to state leaders asking voters if Article 1 one of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization.

Supporters said voting yes would encourage future businesses to come to the area.

"I think it signals to businesses out there, we're not planning on changing this anytime soon and they would like to be secure being a right to work and Virginia will be wise," Morgan Griffith (R) Republican Congressman for the 9th district said.

Opponents said voting no would allow unions to keep their negotiating power and fight better pay.

"It waters it down so it's not mandatory to pay union dues, and what it does it weakens the position for collective bargaining" Derek Kitts (D) Candidate for the 9th Congressional District said.  

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