Business Groups Are Lining Up Against Democratic Efforts to Help Virginia Workers

Jan 15, 2020

Business leaders from across Virginia appear at a press conference announcing united opposition to raising the minimum wage, mandating paid family leave and overturning the right-to-work law.
Credit Michael Pope

Democrats in the General Assembly are planning to move forward with a number of bills designed to help workers. But, those efforts will have serious opposition.

Business groups from across Virginia are coming together to create a united opposition to the labor agenda of the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Groups like the Virginia Retail Federation and the Hampton Roads Chamber and the Poultry Federation — they’re forming a wall of opposition to raising the minimum wage, overturning the right-to-work law and mandating paid family leave.

“These policies that are being proposed are tone deaf to the economy and tone deaf to industries and tone deaf, quite frankly, to the difference between rural and urban,” says Brett Vassey with the Virginia Manufacturers Association.

Kim Bobo with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says these business leaders are looking out for their own bottom line, rather than the interests of low-wage workers. 

“I would say they are tone deaf to workers, particularly to low-wage workers," Bobo says. "We need some sort of minimum standards on these core benefits for workers.”

Raising the minimum wage and mandating paid family leave were prominently featured on the campaign trail, and Democrats are hoping to take swift action on those issues. Overturning the right to work law, though, might face a hurdle in the Senate, where some Democrats have voiced concern about moving too fast too soon.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.