2020 Democrats want Virginia governor to back right-to-work law repeal

Warren introduced a plan in October than would ban states from enacting 'right-to-work' laws

2020 Democratic presidential candidates want Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to back a right-to-work law that would ban compulsory union membership.

The Virginia National Right to Work law ensures that nobody should be denied a job based on that person's decision to join or not join a union.

"I can’t foresee Virginia taking actions [that would include] repeal of the right-to-work law," Northam told the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates on Monday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Aerial of Crystal City, an urban neighborhood in Arlington County, Virginia, just south of downtown Washington, D.C., with Jefferson Davis Highway (US 1) between the buildings.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- both strong supporters of workers' unions -- encouraged Northam to repeal the law Wednesday on Twitter.

"Governor Northam, you have the opportunity to empower unions and working families. You should take it," Warren wrote.

Warren introduced a plan in October she described as "the most progressive and comprehensive agenda for workers since the New Deal" that would prohibit states from enacting "right-to-work" laws and enforced a $15 minimum wage.


Sanders encouraged the Virginia governor, who remains in office despite being part of a blackface scandal, to "do the right thing."

"The Virginia AFL-CIO and Lee Carter are right," Sanders tweeted. "If we're going to expand the middle class and end corporate greed, we need to repeal so-called 'right-to-work' laws that have been a disaster for Virginia and 26 other states. Gov. Northam: Do the right thing. End 'right-to-work.'"

Republican House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones of Suffolk, Virginia, said Northam's decision was "a very good move to reassure the engine that’s driving our economy," the Times-Dispatch reported.

Virginia AFL-CIO Communications Director Destiny LeVere, however, sided with Sanders and Warren, saying her organization felt "deep disappointment" with the governor's move, according to the Times-Dispatch.

"Being named 1st for business and 51st overall for workers isn’t something Virginia should be proud of," LeVere said in a statement. "This General Assembly session, workers will be joining together to ensure that there will be a robust, pro-labor agenda that values Virginia’s workers, putting us at the forefront. Number one on this agenda is repealing right-to-work."