CHARLESTON – More than 200 union members representing over 100 local union affiliates gathered in Charleston this week for the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s 29th Constitutional Convention to adopt policy and elect officers, selecting Josh Sword to a full four-year term as President of the organization.
“It is absolutely the highest professional honor of my life to be elected to serve in this capacity and to represent the wonderful people of the West Virginia AFL-CIO,” Sword said. “I look forward to leading the charge for the betterment of all West Virginia working families.”
Elected Secretary Treasurer is Andy Walters, a member of the International Painters Union and a resident of Wheeling. He replaces UMWA member Joe Carter, who filled the unexpired Secretary-Treasurer term Sword was serving prior to being appointed President in December 2016.
“I am extremely grateful Brother Carter was willing to step up to help us make this transition to the election,” Sword said. “He is a tremendous asset to our organization.”
Sword said he looks forward to working side-by-side with Walters, age 37.
“Andy brings years of experience as both an organizer and a financial agent,” Sword said.
Walters, who has worked for the Painters Union since 2002, said he is excited for the opportunity.
“I plan on working 24-7 for the labor movement in West Virginia and I am grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “I’m glad to be part of the team.”
In addition to electing the 16 members of the WV AFL-CIO’s executive board, the delegates to the convention also adopted numerous policy position papers specifying federal, state and local issues important to working West Virginians.
“Each of the 30-plus resolutions adopted during our convention are aimed at fighting back against the current War on Working Families,” Sword noted. “Our members are energized and excited about moving forward and feeling optimistic.”
By unanimous vote, members spelled out goals for legislation to address such issues as the need for legislation to encourage the purchase of American-made goods; local hiring and fair wages on taxpayer-funded projects; protecting retiree pensions; urging state officials to address the personnel crisis within the corrections system; opposing tax changes that penalize working families to the benefit of the wealthy; and all legislation intended to weaken the voice of workers.
During the convention, which marked the WV AFL-CIO’s 60th anniversary, union members heard from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, UMWA President Cecil Roberts, state Treasurer John Perdue, Senator Ron Stollings and Delegate Shawn Fluharty, among others.
President Sword noted that a frequent topic of discussion during the two-day event, which concluded this afternoon, was the recent passage of the Road Bond and the need to ensure that local workers are hired for those taxpayer-funded projects.
“We are very pleased that Governor Jim Justice and state leaders are talking about what they can do to ensure local workers are hired to work on these road projects, which are so critical to our state’s economy,” Sword said. “Taxpayers want their roads to be fixed and the state’s economy to improve, and they absolutely expect their tax dollars to be spent creating local jobs in the process.”
A graduate of University of Charleston with a degree in accounting, Sword first joined the WV AFL-CIO as Secretary-Treasurer in 2013. Prior to that, Sword, 41, was Political Organizer with the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia. Union roots run deep in his family: His father was a member of the elevator constructors’ union and his grandfather was a union ironworker. He and his wife, Kelly, have two sons and reside in Charleston. As President, he is a member of LIUNA (Laborers) local 1353.
Re-elected to four-year terms on the WV AFL-CIO Executive Board as Vice Presidents are:
Sterling Ball, UFCW; Bob Brown, AFT; Christine Campbell, AFT-WV; Joe Carter, UMWA; Mike Caputo, UMWA; Dan Doyle, AFGE; Dave Efaw, IBEW; Elaine Harris, CWA; Craig Harvey, LIUNA; Kathy McCormick, SEIU; Chuck Parker, IUOE; Dan Poling, IUPAT; Vern Swisher, USW; and Brian Wedge, USW.