Recent Press

“Using bullying tactics that included holding hostage a tax cut for West Virginia retirees, and pay raises for state police, teachers and school service personnel, members of the Senate leadership proved they will stop at nothing to create instability and unpredictability for people who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own.

“It’s disturbing that people who are supposed to be leading the Legisature with the goal of helping improve West Virginians’ lives would instead spend all their time and energy on hurting working people. 

“This bill was pushed through in the last hour of the 60-day legislative session, after weeks of strong-arm attempts to find support among delegates for other versions to no avail. When the majority of House members finally caved to the need to pass other important legislation the Senate was spitefully refusing to act on, members voted on a last-minute version that clearly the vast majority of members had no understanding of. It was a complete farce.

“The state Unemployment Fund, which is healthier than it’s ever been, exists to help any one of us who suddenly find ourselves out of a job. Every citizen of this state should think long and hard about why those in the legislative leadership want to cut down that safety net.”

The following is a statement from West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword regarding Senate Bill 841 to cut unemployment benefits, which is moving in the House of Delegates:

“Seizing on an array of inconsistent testimony and unproven numbers, the House Finance Committee has passed an astonishingly cruel bill to steal earned unemployment benefits away from West Virginia workers. Workers, many of whom have worked at places like Cleveland Cliffs and Allegheny Wood Products for decades but are losing their jobs due to no fault of their own, should not be the victims of politicians in Charleston playing political games.

“These hard-working people should be able to rely on a consistent unemployment benefit, one they earned just like healthcare and retirement, and this legislation would not only cut the number of weeks it’s available, but also would decrease the benefit over time.  

“We cannot understand why this bill, which will also raise taxes on employers, is being pushed in the final week of the legislative session, particularly when the fund is perfectly healthy, and could sustain crisis-level unemployment for multiple years.”

Less than 24 hours after breaking news about more than 800 West Virginians losing their jobs in the timber industry, and in the same week that 1,000 more at a northern West Virginia tin mill were told they’re being laid off, the Senate Finance Committee has passed two bills to take unemployment benefits away from them.

“This is quite possibly the most heartless act I’ve seen in my 25 years of representing working people at the Capitol,” WV AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said. “To take earned benefits away from nearly 2,000 hard-working people who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own is unimaginably cruel and completely unnecessary.”

The West Virginia AFL-CIO is devastated after learning about the sudden passing of its former President Kenny Perdue, a life-long advocate for working people and dedicated family man who will be missed beyond measure. 

“Kenny was tireless in his efforts to protect and serve West Virginia working families, having spent four decades working in the labor movement and close to 20 years with the West Virginia AFL-CIO,” WV AFL-CIO President Josh Sword said. “He was a mentor, who inspired me with his work ethic, integrity and kindness. Even more importantly, he was the shining light of his family, and our hearts go out to all his loved ones, his wife, Dusty, his daughters, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. Our collective hearts are broken – we will miss our dear friend.”

The following is a statement from West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword regarding Senator Joe Manchin’s decision to not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate: