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.”

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.”