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Open letter to Gov. Northam

Letter to the Editor

12/6/2019, 6 a.m.
To Gov. Ralph S. Northam, As the elected business manager of a labor union that supported you in the 2017 ...

To Gov. Ralph S. Northam,

As the elected business manager of a labor union that supported you in the 2017 election for governor, I continue to be disappointed in your actions. The comments you made to the revenue advisory council were shameful, but not surprising. The so-called “right-to-work” law does nothing but allow freeloaders on jobs covered by a union contract.

Since 1947, states that are “right-to-work” are lower in wages, higher in fatalities and higher in poverty, infant mortality and uninsured rates. The ugly history of “right-to-work” includes characters such as Vance Muse, who used racist scare tactics to promote adoption of the law to Dixiecrats of the time.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was among many unions that walked precincts, made phone calls and made campaign contributions to get you elected and to help ensure the recent “blue wave” in the Commonwealth. To hear that the leader of the Democratic Party in the state chooses to side with business interests and Republicans over a fundamental tenant of policy for labor was a slap in the face. If your aim was to alienate union labor voters for years to come, you are well on the way to the goal.

When the news broke last week about you discouraging repeal of the “right-to-work” law, I was quickly contacted by many rank and file members asking if I had seen the reports. I can assure you that all 1,200 members of IBEW Local 666 are as furious as I am at your actions.

On a federal level, seven of Virginia’s 11 congressional representatives have had the courage to stand with labor and sign on to the PRO Act. It would be helpful if you, as the governor of a state, proclaimed a “blue state,” would have the guts to do the same and not pander to corporate desires.

Frankly, to continue policies that enshrined Virginia as 51st for workers on an Oxfam’s “Best States to Work” list is shameful for a political party that claims to be pro-worker. Perhaps it is time to get on the right side of history and send “right-to-work” to the dustbin where it belongs.

The members of IBEW Local 666 and I await your leadership.

CHARLES SKELLY

Richmond

The writer is business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 666.

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