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.”

CHARLESTON -- Public employee and union representatives will hold a press conference 10:00 a.m. Friday, March 11, in the Governor’s Conference Room, located in the Secretary of State’s Office, to discuss critical changes to the state budget needed to provide a long-term fix for the West Virginia Public Employee Insurance Agency debt and to help struggling working families.

“Prior to the legislative session, those of us who serve on the PEIA Finance Board and who represent public employees urged the Legislature to quickly come to a consensus on how to properly fund this insurance program, which affects over 200,000 state and local public employees and their families,” West Virginia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Josh Sword said. “With a little more than 48 hours left in the regular session, we are extremely concerned because there is no agreement among members of the House and Senate Republican leadership on PEIA and on other issues critical to the well being of West Virginia working families, such as roads and infrastructure.”

Representatives of a number of organizations that represent hard-working West Virginians will attend and speak about the budgetary needs.

What: Press conference to discuss PEIA & other critical budget needs

When: 10:00 am, Friday, March 11, 2016

Where: Governor’s Conference Room, West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, main building, Capitol Complex

West Virginia workers will demonstrate today outside the building where members of the West Virginia Senate are holding their annual dinner honoring Senate President Bill Cole, a key leader in ushering through the legislative process two bills that will lower wages, make workplaces less safe and do nothing to create jobs – “Right to Work” and repeal of the state Prevailing Wage.

Demonstrators will gather at 5:30 p.m. today, Feb. 16, along the 900 block of Virginia Street, at the intersection with Dickinson Street, outside the Triana Management Services Building, also known as the Equities House. The dinner is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

What: Demonstration Against Senate President Cole and His Leadership Team

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: 900 Virginia St. E., Charleston, the Equities House

Ernest “Spud” Terry,  who spoke as a representative of the West Virginia Coalition of Retired Public Employees (CORPE).Ernest “Spud” Terry, who spoke as a representative of the West Virginia Coalition of Retired Public Employees (CORPE).CHARLESTON – With the legislative session already half over, concerned public employees and their representatives today called on lawmakers to work toward finding a way to properly fund the state Public Employee Insurance Agency.

“We’ve got to fix this,” said Danette Clark, a West Virginia Corrections Counselor who has worked for the state for the past 22 years. “We’ve got to help our own.”

PEIA’s budget has remained unchanged for the past five years, despite the fact that more than 3,600 more new employees have been added to the program while medical and drug costs are increasing by an average of 6 percent per year. Without action by the Legislature, the PEIA Finance Board will be forced to cut $120 million of earned benefits from active and retired public employees.