Policy: Labor

Terry McAuliffe: Virginia’s right-to-work status is not going to change

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Virginia,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe told the Washington Post that the Old Dominion’s right-to-work law was “not going to change”. The Post reporter apparently thought he left himself some wiggle room on this though.

Here’s the relevant section from today’s story:

McAuliffe also declined to say whether he would protect the commonwealth’s status as a right-to-work state or search for ways to make the state more friendly toward organized labor.

“I’m going to work with management. I’m going to work with labor. I’m going to work with everybody to move Virginia forward,” McAuliffe said. “It’s not ‘either-or.’ We are a right-to-work state that has been here for many years, and it’s not going to change. But the focus has got to be not on trying to divide folks. [It] is, how do we work together to grow the Virginia economy to have the most diverse economy to bring in those 21st-century jobs?”

This prompted National Review campaign blogger Jim Geraghty to ask: “I’m sorry, did Terry McAuliffe just reveal that if he’s elected governor, Virginia might no longer be a right-to-work state?”

Based on the Post’s characterization of McAuliffe’s remarks in first excerpted paragraph above, I can see why he would ask the question. But that characterization does not seem to be supported by McAuliffe’s comment: “We are a right-to-work state that has been here for many years, and it’s not going to change.”

By the way, shouldn’t the punctuation in the quote be: “We are a right-to-work state. That has been here for many years and it’s not going to change“? That would make more sense.

Having said that, McAuliffe’s statement is rather vague. He was obviously trying to delicately tip-toe around the whole issue of how far he would go in backing union rights. But I don’t think it is accurate to say he just came out against right-to-work.

Right-to-work laws prohibit workplace labor contracts that require workers to either join a union or at least pay dues to it as a condition of employment. In addition to Virginia, 23 other states have them.

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