UE Local 170 Members lobbying on Martin
Luther King Day.

This year has been busier than expected and has resulted in some changing of our tactics due to the change in our political environment in the State Capitol.  With anti-worker politicians in control of both the House and Senate this past session, we have had little success in advancing the agenda approved by our last statewide convention.  We were successful however in having two study resolutions introduced. 

These resolutions concern worker safety in the state's psychiatric hospitals and worker safety and health for all state workers.  The goal is for appropriate committees in each chamber to approve studying the need for worker safety, which will hopefully lead to the development of a state safety plan with the help of the U.S. Department of Labor paying up to half the costs of running an established state plan to inspect public workplaces and enforce safety regulations.  We will need your active support during the upcoming legislative interim meetings to make sure these study resolutions are not buried.

While anti-labor forces have tried to hinder our traditional lobbying efforts, they were not successful.  UE has demonstrated that we can use direct action where it is needed.  For the first time, UE Local 170 staged a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day lobbying effort in January.  The following month we assembled for our traditional Presidents Day rally in the morning and were addressed by Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler.  In the afternoon, we joined with over 5000 other trade unionists who met outside the capitol building despite heavy snowfall to hear Senator Kessler and other legislators make a call for action for working people to combat the infiltration of the radical political right wing into government with an anti-worker agenda.

UE Local 170 members at this year's
President's Day Rally.

In March, UE Local 170 also participated in a massive union rally again at the capitol, this time organized by the labor movement in response to attacks on the working people of this country.  An estimated 7000 union members from around West Virginia and nearby states gathered as a demonstration of solidarity with the working class and as a signal that organized labor is going to fight the wealthy anti-worker political groups with their agendas that will further impoverish working people, attack our safety net, endanger the environment and weaken our liberties. 

We will need to remain vigilant this coming legislative session as we will have to fight to defeat anti-worker Right to Work legislation, which will be used to destroy unions, as well as the Paycheck Protection bill that will attack the ability of unions to collect union dues through payroll deduction.  This is nothing more than a blatant attack by anti-worker politicians on the only weapon that working people have: their unions.  UE Local 170 will continue the fight for DHHR caseload standards as well as Seniority Protection.  We will also need continue our fight against the privatization of state jobs, usually to companies owned by friends or relatives of legislators. Our supporter, Delegate Nancy Guthrie has introduce legislation that if passed, would force state management to justify the cost benefit of contracting out state jobs.   I ask for your participation in lobbying and attending rallies this year as it will prove to be a difficult one.  Only our collective efforts can prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.  

 

In Solidarity,

Chris Wolford

Vice President, UE Local 170