Judge Sides With Teamsters In Fight To Review WVU Right-To-Work Emails

Messages About Commissioned Report Must Be Made Public

Mar 15, 2016, 15:16 ET from International Brotherhood of Teamsters

CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Teamsters Union today is lauding a court ruling that will require West Virginia University (WVU) to make available seven previously redacted emails about a report detailing the economic impact of so-called right to work (RTW). The West Virginia Legislature approved RTW legislation last month.

In a bench ruling issued this morning by Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Judge Phillip Gaujot, the court determined the Teamsters were entitled to the contents of the emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the union previously filed. In addition, the judge said WVU must compile a listing of documents it withheld that could fall under the FOIA request for him to review and decide whether to turn over to the Teamsters if sought.

Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer and President of Teamsters Local 175 in South Charleston, W.Va., called the ruling a victory for all West Virginia workers. He said the fact that WVU was attempting to hide emails calls into question even more the impartiality of the study. 

"GOP leaders leaned heavily on this study as the reason why West Virginia should enact this anti-worker legislation," Hall said. "Lawmakers made a grave error when they overrode the governor's veto and approved right to work. Everyday West Virginians deserve transparency and a full accounting of how this report came to be."

The Teamsters question the motivations behind the study commissioned by members of the state Legislature who supported RTW legislation. The report by WVU Professor John Deskins was conducted at the request of Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead, lead proponents of the measure.

The Teamsters last month filed a lawsuit against the state Senate, accusing its leaders of concealing RTW report-related emails on their end. The union expressed concern that state funds were used to fund the slanted study. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Luke Farley, a Teamster attorney, said the union is seeking answers.

"We will not stop until all of the facts have seen the light of day and the public has all of the information available concerning how this process was carried out," Farley said.

RTW laws weaken a union's ability to help workers bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits and working conditions by allowing non-members the benefits of a union contract without paying any of the cost. Despite faulty claims by proponents and big business that workers benefit from such legislation, workers on average make $1,500 less in RTW states.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Kara Deniz, (202) 624-6911

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SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters