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WHEELING – The West Virginia AFL-CIO will hold a ceremony Friday at the Wheeling Artisan Center to remember the 24 West Virginians who lost their lives on the job last year.

“The unions of the AFL-CIO throughout the country set aside this day to remember and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives on the job,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said. “It is deeply troubling that this year, we will be reading 24 names of West Virginians who left for work during 2016 and did not return home to their loved ones.”

Local and state union representatives will be on hand for the ceremony, which will begin at noon at the Wheeling Artisan Center/River City Restaurant, 1400 Main Street, Wheeling. The program will include a reading of the names of the 23 men and 1 woman who lost their lives in 2016 due to a workplace hazard, as well as words from Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, music by local songwriter Tom Breiding and the laying of a wreath.

“Despite significant progress over the years in making workplaces safer and protecting workers, an average of 13 workers die on the job in this country each day as a result of workplace injuries,” Sword said. “On this day, we renew our pledge to fight for safe and secure jobs, and ask all West Virginians to join us in honoring those families that have suffered the ultimate loss.” 

* Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living *

WHAT: West Virginia Workers Memorial Day

WHEN: noon, Friday, April 28, 2017

WHERE: Wheeling Artisan Center/River City Restaurant, 1400 Main St., Wheeling

CHARLESTON – Staying true to his promise to take innovative and bold steps to move West Virginia’s economy forward, Governor Jim Justice provided a solid blueprint for addressing the state budget crisis while still bolstering the business climate.

“Governor Justice knows that the current dire budget situation calls for significant short-term sacrifices, but he hasn’t lost sight of his long-term goals of generating good paying jobs, growing the middle class and making West Virginia a top destination for both businesses and young workers – and he’s ready to get started on those goals right away,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said.

Despite predictions of large-scale layoffs and wage reductions, Governor Justice presented a budget plan that retains most state employees and the services they provide, Sword noted.

CHARLESTON—Over 30,000 people in Kanawha and Putnam counties are expected to benefit from this year’s United Food Operation (UFO) food distribution program, which kicked off its 35th annual food distribution program today.

“Our local food pantries are seeing even more need this year than last,” says Elaine Harris, UFO chairperson. “We are determined to help them fight hunger in our community.”

The 2017 food distribution program, which runs through April 1, is the 35th in a row for the group. The all-volunteer charity does not distribute food directly to the public but purchases food in bulk that supplies 12 independent food pantries across Kanawha and Putnam counties. 

West Virginia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Josh Sword has been appointed to fill the unexpired term of President Kenny Perdue, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Noting Sword’s extensive experience in the West Virginia labor movement and his dedicated service with the West Virginia AFL-CIO, the organization’s Executive Board decided in a unanimous vote Tuesday that Sword should take the helm, and that Joe Carter, a member of the Executive Board and longtime United Mine Workers of America leader, will serve as interim Secretary-Treasurer.

The WV AFL-CIO Executive Board includes 14 vice presidents that represent 575 local unions and 140,000 active and retired members of the AFL-CIO. The current presidential term expires in October 2017, when the WV AFL-CIO will hold its constitutional convention.

After more than four decades of working in the labor movement and nearly 20 years with the West Virginia AFL-CIO, President Kenny Perdue plans to retire at the end of this year.

“While I look forward to spending more time with my wife and family (which includes eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren), this decision didn’t come easily,” Perdue said. “Throughout my years of service, I have been inspired by the work ethic, integrity and kindness of working West Virginians, who ask for no more than the fair wages, quality benefits and safe workplaces they deserve.”

Prior to taking office as President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO in 2004, Perdue was Secretary-Treasurer of the organization for seven years, and served as Vice President of the WV AFL-CIO from 1989 to 1997. During his career as a sheet metal worker, Perdue was elected business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union #33, as was his father and one of his brothers. In addition, two other brothers, three nephews, a son-in-law and a grandson are also part of the sheet metal worker trade.   

“It has been a true pleasure advocating for West Virginia working families and representing our union partners,” Perdue said. “I look forward to assisting as the West Virginia AFL-CIO and the labor movement across our country continues this critical work.”

CHARLESTON – Members of the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education met Thursday in Charleston for a Special Convention and selected a variety of state and local candidates for endorsement in the 2016 general election.

“Our membership has chosen candidates who will support working families and will oppose the type of legislation the Republican legislative leadership has pursued that hurts working families and undermines the middle class – they would vote against legislation such as ‘Right to Work’ and repeal of Prevailing Wage,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “All the candidates we’ve chosen, including Democrat candidate for Governor Jim Justice, want what’s best for all West Virginians, not just a select few wealthy special interests.”