Member's Press Release

Release Date: 02/09/2016
Contact: Senator John Unger 304-357-7933

John Unger

Senator Unger Supportive of Referendum on Prevailing Wage and Right to Work

Senate Minority Whip John Unger, D-Berekley, said he would love to see a referendum on prevailing wage and right-to-work legislation. “Let the people vote,” Senator Unger said. “Their voices should be directly heard and not just through political polls.

“There’s a war raging between business and labor,” Unger added. “Investment and industry won’t come to the middle of a war zone.”

While Unger said it isn’t something he takes lightly, these issues effect the people of West Virginia and we should hear from them.

“Whatever the people decide is where we need to be,” he added. “My first and foremost priority is to represent them.”

Each measure passed the Senate on a party-line vote. The prevailing wage bill passed the House of Delegates 55-44 and right-to-work passed 54-46. To amend West Virginia’s constitution through a referendum, each ballot question will need to pass both bodies of the legislature with a two-thirds majority and then be approved by a majority of West Virginia voters.

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, West Virginians have passed more than 50 substantive amendments to the 1872 constitution. The pace of amendments has accelerated over time, with three in the 19th century. In 1964, the legislature enacted a law authorizing the election of delegates to a constitutional convention. The movement stalled, however, after the state Supreme Court invalidated the law because it improperly apportioned delegate selection and after major amendments in the late ’60s and early ’70s significantly modernized state government. Most notable among them were the Modern Budget Amendment of 1968, the Legislative Improvement Amendment in 1970, and the Judicial Reorganization Amendment in 1974, the encyclopedia says.

Divisive politics we’ve seen this session aren’t attracting investments,” Unger said. “The people of West Virginia deserve better and should have direct input on these issues. These issues are so significant that the people of West Virginia should have the final say. I fully support a referendum and urge the Legislature to give the people the opportunity to vote on this.”

Unger said we need to put an end to the Washington style division of politics that have dominated Charleston. “West Virginians, not out-of-state special interests with their dark money, should get to make this decision,” he added.

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