Subject: HB 2154
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000
From: "Associated Builders & Contractors"

Letter to newspapers and chambers of commerce across the state.


Why can't West Virginia attract companies offering higher paying jobs? It's simple; our businesses pay the highest worker's comp rates in the country, our state is among the lowest in terms of adults with a college education, and the perception still exists that big labor controls state.

When a company is trying to decide between locating in Virginia or West Virginia, Virginia certainly has the upper hand. In addition to having much lower workers comp premiums, Virginia has another distinct advantage, a right-to-work law. Virginia does not force workers to belong to a union as a condition of securing employment with a company. Virginia does not force workers to pay dues to support the candidacy of a politician that the individual may personally be opposed to. Why do we? Because the perception still exists within West Virginia that big labor is in control.

The facts are this: in 1998, 12.6% of the WV labor force was organized compared to 13.9% nationally. Eliminating public sector workers from this equation lowers the rate to 11.1%. That means 88.9% of all private workers in West Virginia choose not to belong to any type of union. Where else in the annals of American history has 11.1% been allowed to tell 88.9% of the workers that they did not have the right to work.

Big labor bosses rake in hundreds of millions of dollars annually from dues taken from thousands of workers' paychecks. They will do anything to prevent a decline in membership because big labor is big business! If you don't believe me, call the U.S. Department of Labor and request a copy of a labor organization's LM-2. This is the form they must file annually, and it is available to the public. See how much money is being skimmed from workers' paychecks. Better yet, call me at 346-8791 and I'll send you a copy of the 1998 LM-2 from IBEW, Laborers International, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, AFL-CIO, or Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation (ACT). If unions were actually necessary in this day and age, big labor would have no problem letting each worker decide for his or herself whether they wanted representation or not. Somewhere, we lost the concept of being evaluated based on our own merits, and taking responsibility for our own actions.

Tell our legislators that West Virginia workers shouldn't fund political activities of candidates without individual written consent. House Bill 2154, currently stagnating in the Industry and Labor Committee, would require unions to obtain written permission to use forced dues income for purposes other than legitimate costs of union representation. Is it asking so much of big labor to obtain permission from someone before giving his or her hard earned money to a politician? I don't think so. But I am in the minority, along with the other 88.9% of West Virginia workers.

Thank you,
Tom Hardiman
Executive Director,
Associated Builders & Contractors