Terry McAuliffe touts endorsement from another union opposing right-to-work policy

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe touted the endorsement of another large labor union, signaling his intent to oppose right-to-work policies if he wins the governorship in November.

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“I’m proud to have the endorsement of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 51,” McAuliffe said in a press release Friday.

“Workers in the construction industry are critical as we initiate new infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth and keep Virginia the #1 state in the nation for business,” he continued. “We can’t make that happen without paid leave, apprenticeships, and raising the minimum wage. I will fight for painters and tradesmen every day as governor.”

McAuliffe’s comments came amid concerns he may repeal the state’s right-to-work legislation despite previously supporting it.

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District 51’s Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer, Brian Courtien, said: “Terry McAuliffe’s stated vision for investment in Virginia workers–with the use of registered apprenticeships, increased infrastructure work and projects, his commitment to increasing wages and enhancing benefits for workers in the construction industry–will provide for an improved and more sustainable quality of life for our members, and those are among the essential reasons we need Terry McAuliffe to lead Virginia forward and onward.”

The group has repeatedly opposed right-to-work, including in a July tweet claiming it originated with Jim Crow laws.

The Virginia Public Access Project reported earlier this month that his gubernatorial campaign got $500,000 from the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). Fox News previously reported on the $2 million influential labor unions giving to his campaign after he said he would sign a repeal of the state’s right-to-work policy.

Right-to-work laws guarantee an employee’s right to refuse to join a labor union and prevent union dues from being a requirement for employment. More than two dozen states, including Virginia, have right-to-work laws in place, and labor unions and progressive groups continually seek to overturn the statutes.

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A newly unearthed clip from the campaign of McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, shows McAuliffe addressing the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ 2019 U.S. Legislative Conference and boasting about opposing right-to-work in Virginia.

“Most importantly, I was a strong advocate for labor. I’m very proud as governor, our legislature, Republican legislature passed a referendum twice to put on the ballot for right-to-work,” McAuliffe said. “Right-to-work went on the ballot, and I’m very proud as governor, working with you and our political operation, we defeated right-to-work in Virginia.”

McAuliffe’s pledge to repeal right-to-work has been met with skepticism. McAuliffe previously said: “We are a great right-to-work state. We should never change that.” Politifact mentioned McAliffe’s remark while rating as false his former opponent Ken Cuccinelli’s claim that he opposed right-to-work. 

When McAuliffe committed to repealing right-to-work, he said that it wouldn’t pass the state’s legislature.

“I’ve said all along I’m going to focus on the things that I can actually get done,” McAuliffe told a reporter who asked about a bill reaching his desk.

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