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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).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.

Public employees and employee representatives will hold a press conference 10:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, in Room 252 of the state Capitol to talk about the potentially devastating impact of cuts to the West Virginia Public Employee Insurance Agency program, which affects over 200,000 state and local public employees and their families.

“As a member of the Public Employee Insurance Agency Finance Board, I can’t begin to express how concerned I am about what could happen to our lowest paid public employees if the Legislature cannot find a way to properly fund PEIA,” said Elaine Harris, the state's international representative for the Communications Workers of America and a vice president with the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

What: Press conference to discuss effects of PEIA funding crisis

When: 10:30 a.m., Monday, Feb. 15, 2016

Where: Room 252, McManus Room, state Capitol Main Building (located along the House of Delegates North hallway)

The following is a statement from West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue regarding the passage today of Senate Bill 1, “Right to Work,” and House Bill 4005, repeal of Prevailing Wage:

“The legislative leadership relentlessly pursued “Right to Work” and repeal of Prevailing Wage despite appeals from thousands of hard-working West Virginians and hundreds of employers and contractors to stop and consider the damage caused to workers in other states through lower wages and less safe workplaces, and despite proof that these measures do nothing to create jobs.

“On behalf of 140,000 hard-working men and women represented by the West Virginia AFL-CIO, I would again like to thank Governor Tomblin for seeing through the false promises offered by supporters of both bills and standing up for West Virginia’s middle class. In the coming months, we will direct our energy and resources toward reminding West Virginia working families which legislators failed them, and urging them to vote accordingly – to remember in November.”

West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said he is extremely grateful to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for vetoing both Senate Bill 1, commonly known as “Right to Work,” and House Bill 4005, repeal of state Prevailing Wage.

“On behalf of 140,000 hard-working men and women represented by the West Virginia AFL-CIO, I would like to thank Governor Tomblin for seeing through the false promises offered by supporters of both these bills,” Perdue said. “Rather than endorsing legislation that only serves out-of-state corporate interests, the Governor stood up for West Virginia working families.”

oklahoma employmentCHARLESTON -- Workers from Oklahoma and Virginia visited Charleston today to talk about how so-called “Right to Work” laws hurt economies, lower wages, impair worker safety and eliminate jobs.

“We’ve presented countless facts and figures which show that a Right to Work law does nothing to help West Virginia’s economy, and instead would be harmful to West Virginia working families, but the rhetoric from the other side has been strong,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “We thought it was time West Virginians hear from working people who have experienced the damage Right to Work causes.”

Jesse Isbell of Oklahoma City lost his job of 36 years with Bridgestone Tire Plant, five years after the state of Oklahoma passed a Right to Work law.