FILE - Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas

Virginia Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas

Legislation that would fully repeal Virginia’s right-to-work protections has taken another step forward in the state Legislature.

House Bill 153 would repeal the Virginia law that prevents an employee from being fired for his or her refusal to join a union. Current laws do not restrict a person’s ability to join a union, but prevent an employee from being forced into one.

The bill moved out of the House of Delegates' Labor and Commerce Committee on Thursday in a 12-9 vote. Its next stop is the House Appropriations Committee. The bill's sponsor, Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, was not available for comment.

Mark Mix, the president of National Right to Work, criticized the legislation and encouraged lawmakers to prevent the bill from going any further. Mix argued that this legislation infringes on workers’ rights and would be harmful to the commonwealth’s economy.

“The text of this bill says, in black and white, that it will wipe out every word of the Commonwealth’s safeguards against forced union payments for workers,” Mix said in a statement. “That Delegate Carter and the Labor Committee would advance such a flagrant attack on Virginia’s Right to Work protections for employees, which have remained popular for decades and across administrations, is outrageous.

"What’s more, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, a state agency, just issued a fiscal impact report earlier this week that concluded that efforts underway to attract 37,000 jobs and $11 billion in investment to Virginia just in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors would be endangered just by advancing this bill.”

Right-to-work repeal is opposed by all of the chamber’s Republicans, but Democrats have a 55-45 majority. The Senate has a 21-19 Democratic majority. Although the bill has substantial Democratic support, some Democrats, including Gov. Ralph Northam, have said publicly they are against a full repeal. In a recent poll of 600 likely Virginia voters conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, two-thirds of Virginia voters opposed repeal, including more than half of the Democrats polled.

Democratic lawmakers have introduced additional bills to strip away at right-to-work protections.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, introduced Senate Bill 427, which would allow contracts that require nonunion members in the private sector to pay partial union dues to contribute to the cost of contract negotiations and other representation from the union.

The House has passed HB 582, which would allow public sector unions to negotiate contracts that allow them to have exclusive representation over a working unit, even if some members of the unit are not members of the union. This bill is sponsored by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Dale City. A provision of that bill is being called unconstitutional by one of the attorneys who won the landmark Janus v. AFSCME case in the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.