As West Virginia working families took time this Labor Day week to celebrate workplace rights and the unions who represent them, State Republican leaders amped up their campaign to lower wages and safety regulations in the name of profit, announcing pursuit of a so-called “right to work” law.

“The fight starts now,” said House Minority Whip Mike Caputo, who discussed the push for the anti-working family law in a Metro News radio interview today. “What they call a ‘right to work’ law is a slap in the face to working people and wrong for West Virginia.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael joined Delegate Caputo in the radio interview and advocated for the legislation. West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said Carmichael falsely characterized it as an attempt to increase workplace freedom.

As is the time-honored tradition, this extended Labor Day weekend will be filled with family picnics, football games and barbeques, bringing together family members and friends. Amid the festivities, the West Virginia AFL-CIO invites residents to attend one of the many parades and events honoring the achievements of America’s working people.

“The people of this state and country, those working in manufacturing, engineering, service or retail, use their talent, dedication and drive to make our nation stronger,” WV AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “This Labor Day, let’s celebrate our working families, who are pursuing the American Dream and working for a better life.”

Among the many events planned throughout the state, the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s labor councils and affiliates are hosting celebrations on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday -- including a run to raise money to help cover medical expenses for a Brooke County man severely injured in the workplace, and a reception honoring a group of Rosie the Riveters, women who worked in factories, often on munitions and other war supplies, during World War II.

SOUTH CHARLESTON – West Virginia retirees joined local and state officials today in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare in an event hosted by the West Virginia Alliance for Retired Americans (WVARA).

“This is a joyful day for the seniors of America,” WVARA President Virginia Moles said. “Thanks to Medicare, millions of older Americans are able to enjoy their retirement without medical expenses bankrupting them and their families.

“In this age of shrinking savings and small or nonexistent pensions, Medicare is more important than ever.”

Today is now Pay Cut Day for West Virginia’s construction workers, West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said.

“At a time when the focus should be on building our state’s infrastructure and supporting our local workforce, the Senate President and House Speaker have chosen to play politics with the pay of West Virginia workers, resulting in confusion and disruption within the state’s construction industry,” President Perdue said.

The Republicans on the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance voted in June to deny WorkForce West Virginia’s request for an extension in calculating a fair market minimum hourly wage for state projects above $500,000, as directed by legislation adopted this year. As a result of that action, taken over the objection of Democrat members, the existing Prevailing Wage expired as of July1.

“The Prevailing Wage protects local workers and local contractors,” Affiliated Construction Trades Director Steve White said. “Beginning today, workers on public projects will face unfair wages and unfair competition from out-of-state contractors. Shame on the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance for denying WorkForce West Virginia the time needed to determine what the local market is paying and to ensure the best use of state taxpayer money.”

Both White and Perdue join Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in urging the legislative leadership to reconsider denying the extension.

“The Legislature directed WorkForce West Virginia to undertake a complex process that is vitally important to West Virginia’s construction industry, infrastructure needs and workers,” Perdue said. “The Republican legislative leadership owes it to West Virginia taxpayers to allow adequate time to complete that process.”

CHARLESTON -- To celebrate the completion of a new apartment building designed to provide the physically disabled with independent living accommodations, representatives of several groups that contributed to its design and construction held a ceremonial ribbon cutting today.

“This project provides some much-needed, centrally located living space for people who face physical challenges,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue noted.

Named in honor of longtime attorney Patrick Maroney -- who through his work as General Counsel to the WVAFL-CIO and as a state and community leader has dedicated decades of service on behalf of fair housing and employment -- the Thomas Patrick Maroney Unity Apartments contains 13 one-bedroom accessible apartments, which include kitchens and bathrooms designed to accommodate people with mobility challenges.

West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said the decision by household products leader Procter & Gamble to invest $500 million in a West Virginia manufacturing facility is testament to the strong, viable workforce and economic opportunities the state provides.

“Companies like Procter & Gamble have every reason to want to locate in West Virginia, despite what some lawmakers and other interest groups have been saying about our state,” Perdue said.

He said the announcement once again brings into question the need for legislation to enact a so-called Right-to-Work law and other measures that would negatively affect workers.

“Some have said such bills would eliminate road blocks that are keeping companies from locating in West Virginia, but clearly those road blocks don’t exist,” Perdue said. “In the name of ‘economic development,’ they are talking about rolling back a prevailing wage law that ensures fairness, training of a highly skilled workforce, and quality construction, and of enacting a Right-to-Work law that would needlessly weaken the employer-employee relationship by adding government interference.