W.Va. Media Colors ‘Right-to-Work’ Fight

by Michael Byrne  |  December 23, 2015

W.Va. Media Colors ‘Right-to-Work’ Fight

Right-wing media in West Virginia are working overtime in an effort to squelch the labor movement’s legitimate complaints about “right-to-work” laws.

First, the state’s largest commercial radio network and its ultra-conservative owners pulled three radio ads sponsored by the AFL-CIO, calling them “inflammatory,” even though the ads simply laid out the facts about the adverse consequences of so-called right to work (RTW).

Then, the editorial board of the Charleston Gazette-Mail used anti-union sources to criticize the ads, without refuting any of the facts. In fact, the editorial acknowledged that the AFL-CIO's contention that "right-to-work states have lower average wage rates [...] is true," while defending those low wages because the states have lower costs of living.

Even adjusting for cost-of-living and other variables, “wages in RTW states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states,” according to an Economic Policy Institute report issued earlier this year.

Further, as Media Matters in America pointed out, “The AFL-CIO's claim of higher workplace fatalities in states with anti-union laws is backed up by several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Public Health, which found similarly that, ‘Higher rates of fatal occupational injury were associated with a state policy climate favoring business over labor.’"

Without refuting the claims in the AFL-CIO ads, the newspaper relied on biased anti-union sources in an effort to discredit the ads. Among those sources is the Michigan-based Mackinac Center, part of the conservative State Policy Network group of think tanks funded by wealthy opponents of unions, including the Koch brothers and the Walton family.

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