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.”

The following is a statement from West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue regarding the 4th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals rejection of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s request to delay his one-year prison sentence:

“The loved ones of the 29 men who died at Upper Big Branch have waited more than six years to see Don Blankenship held accountable for conspiring to violate mine safety standards in the name of profit. I am thankful that the court did not allow a delay of his sentence during what will likely be a lengthy appeal process, and I hope that these family members will find some measure of peace in knowing that Don Blankenship is finally in prison.”

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia AFL-CIO has joined with several other unions representing West Virginia employees in launching a legal challenge of the Republican-led Legislature’s “Right to Work” law.

“While we believe we have strong grounds for a constitutional challenge of the law, based in part on the recent circuit court decision on the Right to Work law in Wisconsin, we also have found several significant flaws in West Virginia’s Senate Bill 1 as it was written, amended and adopted,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “Based on our reading of Senate Bill 1, the so-called Right to Work provisions included in the legislation do not apply to ANY private-sector employees that have collective bargaining agreements in the state of West Virginia.”

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.”