CHARLESTON – More than 150 labor leaders from across West Virginia gathered virtually today for the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s 30th Constitutional Convention to adopt policies and elect officers, including unanimously re-electing President Josh Sword, Secretary-Treasurer Andy Walters, and the fourteen incumbent vice presidents that make up the WV AFL-CIO Executive Board to four-year terms.
The elected board members are: Fred Albert, AFT; Heather Anderson, USW; Bob Brown, AFT; Mike Caputo, UMWA; Joe Carter, UMWA; Dan Doyle, AFGE; John Epperly, State Building Trades; Joyce Gibson, SEIU; Elaine Harris, CWA; Jessie King, LIUNA; Charles Parker, IUOE; Dan Poling IUPAT; Gary Southall, UFCW; and Brian Wedge, USW.
“We are honored to have been given the trust of more than 600 affiliated unions, 70,000 working families, and 70,000 retirees here in the Mountain State,” Sword said. “We face many challenges, not the least of which being the incredibly divisive political climate that has developed in our country and state, but with the help and support of our board and all our members, Secretary-Treasurer Walters and I are eager to move this labor movement forward and make West Virginia a better place for all West Virginians to live and work.”
The day-long meeting was kicked off by a visit from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, who noted that West Virginia is at the “center of gravity” of the nationwide effort to strengthen worker rights.
President Shuler pointed in particular to the importance of several pieces of federal legislation, including the now-passed infrastructure bill, which will bring thousands of union jobs to West Virginia, and the need for the Build Back Better Act, which would help thousands of coal miners who suffer from black lung; enact groundbreaking labor enforcement provisions guaranteeing workers’ basic right to organize and bargain collectively by applying civil monetary penalties on employers that commit serious unfair labor practices; create and improve jobs for home care workers, while expanding access to affordable home and community care for seniors and those disabled; and invest billions in coal communities to attract manufacturing companies that will provide good-paying, union jobs.
During the convention, members adopted a resolution advocating for that federal legislation, as well as policy statements specifying other federal, state and local issues important to working West Virginians. Among the resolutions were those supporting protecting voter rights, broadband expansion, buying local and union-made, raises and benefits for law enforcement officers and other public employees, and pay equity.
“Although we’re in the midst of another critical legislative session here in West Virginia, we are also extremely mindful of the initiatives Congress is considering that could bring countless good-paying jobs to our state, as well as the need to focus on the upcoming election,” Walters said.
Sword added, “While we advocate on behalf of working families, we will also work hard to educate the public on what their elected officials are doing to help, or hurt, their cause.”