MORGANTOWN -- The West Virginia AFL-CIO will hold a ceremony Thursday evening at the Morgantown Public Safety Building to remember the men and women of this state who lost their lives on the job last year. 

“Across the country, unions take time on this day to remember workers who have suffered and died because of workplace hazards,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “It saddens me greatly to note that in 2015, 15 West Virginians went to work and didn’t return home to their families.

“We ask all West Virginians to join us in honoring these hardworking people whose lives were cut short.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know the families of the 29 men who perished at Upper Big Branch will never find true solace, and that the court case has been a painful reminder of that horrific day. But I hope that they find comfort in knowing that this maximum prison sentence and fine sends a powerful message nationwide that corporate CEOs must be held accountable for placing profit ahead of worker safety.”

CHARLESTON – Left with no other recourse, the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board has adopted two plan proposals, one being a worst-case-scenario that assumes the Legislature fails to properly fund the program and enacts $120 million in benefit reductions.

“Unfortunately for the 233,000 PEIA plan participants, political gamesmanship within the Republican-led Legislature has taken precedence over responsible governing,” said WV AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Josh Sword, who is a member of the PEIA Finance Board. “We’ve heard over and over again from the legislative leadership that they had a plan to address this crisis, but here we are on the eve of open enrollment for the next PEIA plan year, weeks after the end of the legislative session, and there is no compromise, no agreement and no solution.”

As the WV Public Employee Insurance Agency Finance Board prepares to take up necessary, drastic benefit cuts in the face of an unresolved state budget, the West Virginia AFL-CIO urges public employees and others who rely on that insurance plan not to be distracted by the Republican legislative leadership’s attempts to blame the Governor’s administration for this crisis.

“From the outset of the legislative session, Governor Tomblin had a plan to ensure that PEIA is funded in the coming fiscal year, and Democrat legislators consistently advocated raising sufficient revenue to address the plan’s long-term liability,” WV AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “Meanwhile, throughout the session the House and Senate Republican leadership said over and over again they had a plan in place, only to come up with budgets that were miles apart – the House only proposed using one-time savings to address the current fiscal year, and the Senate included assumed tax increases the House had already defeated.

CHARLESTON – Members of the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education gathered during the weekend and selected a variety of state and local candidates for endorsement in the 2016 primary election.

“Having been under attack by the Republican legislative leadership for the past two years, our members are keenly aware of how the outcome of these elections directly affects them,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “Our committee members were careful to ensure that anyone who receives our endorsement opposes laws that hurt working families, such as ‘Right to Work’ and repeal of Prevailing Wage.”

An endorsement by the West Virginia AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education follows recommendations from 13 AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils located around the state. The Central Labor Councils interviewed legislative candidates who complete a questionnaire, and consider an incumbent’s recorded vote on working family issues. Some statewide candidates also appeared before the committee during the day-long meeting Saturday. To garner an endorsement by the West Virginia AFL-CIO, a candidate must receive a 2/3 majority of votes cast by the 64 members of State COPE.

CHARLESTON – As the 2016 regular legislative session winds down to its final hours, the leadership of the West Virginia AFL-CIO is preparing an aggressive campaign to educate West Virginians across the state about the damaging laws pursued by the Republican leadership that do nothing to improve the lives of working families, and in fact stand to hurt them.

“From the very start of the 2016 legislative session, the Republican leadership’s focus has been on lowering wages for workers and weakening the unions that represent them, as evidenced by Senate Bill 1, so-called ‘Right to Work,’ ” WV AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “Much of the first half of the legislative session was consumed by divisiveness and confusion surrounding Right to Work and elimination of the state Prevailing Wage, then the bulk of the remainder of the session was spent on other legislation that does absolutely nothing to create jobs or help working families.”