Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership


Representing the Northern Virginia Business Community since 2009

2020 Session ADVOCACY Update: Protect Virginia’s Right-to-Work Law 

January 18, 2020

As you’re aware, right-to-work laws allow a worker to go to work and do his/her job without being forced to join a union. In other words, it ensures employee choice in whether to join a union or not as a condition of his/her employment. Right-to-work laws do not prohibit unions from organizing in Virginia. In fact, the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of workers in right-to-work states to unionize. Without right-to-work law protections, workers would be forced to pay dues or a fee for not participating, as a condition of employment. Virginia is one of 27 states that currently have right-to-work laws.

HB 153, introduced by Del. Lee Carter, would repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law. Specifically, it would prohibit any agreement between an employer and a labor union whereby:

  • Non-members of the union are denied the right to work for the employer;
  • Membership in the union is a condition of employment or continuation of employment; or
  • The union acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise.

Repeal of Virginia’s right-to-work law would significantly diminish Virginia’s economic competitiveness, would immediately result in a drop in our business rankings, and many businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector, would very likely remove Virginia from consideration when looking to grow or locate.

STATUS: HB 153 has not yet been assigned to a committee.

In addition, SB 426, introduced by Sen. Dick Saslaw, proposes a policy known as “fair share.”  Specifically, this bill would authorize an employer to require as a condition of employment any employee who is not a member of a labor union and is a member of a collective bargaining unit, where the labor union is the exclusive representative of the members of the collective bargaining unit, to pay a “fair share fee” to compensate the labor union for the costs of representing the non-member employee.

The bill defines a “fair share fee” as the pro rata share of the portion of a labor union’s dues attributable to activities stemming from its duty to represent all employees in a collective bargaining unit without regard to membership in the labor union.

Per the bill, the fair share fee would include the following:

  • The cost of all activities related to collective bargaining, administration and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements;
  • Representation of employees before public bodies in matters related to collective bargaining agreements or employer-employee relations;
  • Representation of employees during grievance procedures; and
  • Labor union governance and administration.

Under the bill, a fair share fee would not include the cost of any political activities, lobbying, organizing, charity, donations, or community service activities undertaken by the labor union. The bill also states that the fair share fee cannot exceed 60 percent of dues required of a similarly situated member of the labor union.

Simply put, the bill would allow collective bargaining agreements in Virginia that require unionized employers to fire their employees who don’t join the union or pay its dues or fees.

STATUS: SB 426 has been assigned to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

At this point in the process, we are most concerned about the “fair share” bill introduced by Sen. Saslaw. It’s very important for policymakers to understand that the impact of this bill can be as harmful to Virginia’s economic competitiveness and the rights of workers as full repeal of the right-to-work statute.

The best scenario at this point would be for Sen. Saslaw to pull his bill from consideration. For that reason, we are encouraging you and your members to place calls to Sen. Saslaw’s office this week. The number for his Richmond office is (804) 698-7535.

When calling Sen. Saslaw’s office, please include the following in your message:

  • Your Name
  • Title
  • Business name
  • Express opposition to SB 426, the “fair share” bill.
  • Request a call back.

As calls are made, please let me know so I can create a running list of calls made and can be aware of any response provided by his office.

You may also contact the other members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Their contact information is below.

Protecting Virginia’s right-to-work law is critical to maintain Virginia’s economic competitiveness AND protect employee choice.

Please let me know if you have questions. THANKS!