Judge grants restraining order; WVEA vows to continue fight for rights
CHARLESTON – Judge Tera L. Salango on June 14 granted the temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by a dozen West Virginia labor organizations, blocking HB 2009 from going into effect. As passed by the 2021 Legislature, HB 2009 eliminates the right of union members to pay dues through payroll deduction.
“The judge make it clear the purpose of HB 2009 and legislators’ actions were retaliatory against the unions, and that West Virginia law protects everyone, including labor unions, from retaliation,” said WVEA President Dale Lee. “This is a small and positive step in what will be a long, drawn out legal battle. We will not let them destroy unions in West Virginia. We will double our efforts in making sure all of our members have changed their dues payment method from payroll deduction to ensure coverage and protection.”
The TRO is in effect until Salango holds a hearing on the merits of the case. Lee noted the attorney general could appeal the TRO tomorrow and this “will go back and forth between the courts. Any appeals of the case and future legislation will take time and will deal with the same issue.”
Salango noted the governor and legislators’ don’t hide their dislike of unions and knew by passing this law they would suffer irreparable harm, Lee said, adding “she noted that all laws are subject to judicial scrutiny. Everyone should be protected by state law.”
“The current governor and lawmakers do have educators and labor organizations in their sights. We cannot let our guard down – we must be prepared for the next battle,” Lee added.
A coalition of advocacy organizations representing tens of thousands of public employees, including educators, law enforcement officers, first responders, fire fighters as well as state and municipal employees, filed lawsuits to block the retaliatory legislation, set to take effect June 17. All the cases were consolidated and assigned to Judge Solango. She has not accounted when she will hold a hearing on the merits of the case.
The unions say they were targeted for asserting their right to stand up for public schools and that HB 2009 violates their Constitutional right to equal protection under the law and their first amendment right of association.
The coalition of advocacy organizations involved in the lawsuit include:
- Communications Workers of America, District 2-13; CWA/NCPSO Local 2055
- West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation; CWA Local 2001
- West Virginia Education Association
- West Virginia State Troopers Association Local 2019
- District 8 of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union
- West Virginia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police
- West Virginia School Service Personnel Association
- Professional Firefighters of America
- United Mine Workers of America International
- West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration Agency
- American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia
- West Virginia AFL-CIO