On behalf of your UE Local 170 statewide officers, I send you greetings. We have had a busy year, to say the least, since our 2015 state convention.
One of our most important accomplishments came during the 2016 regular legislative session when UE Local 170, along with our allies, was able to avert the immediate privatization of state-operated nursing homes. A bill was introduced by what has proved to be one of the most anti-labor legislatures in the history of West Virginia to quietly but quickly liquidate Jackie Withrow, Lakin and Hopemont hospitals, along with the Manchin Clinic of Fairmont. Communities in Raleigh, Mason, Preston and Marion counties would have lost hundreds of state jobs, along with essential services to additional hundreds of vulnerable and often elderly citizens, had this toxic statute gone unnoticed and unopposed. Our Union was able to mobilize, on extremely short notice, and in the midst of a severe winter storm, several speakers to address a public hearing at the Capitol to rally opposition to the legislation. Thanks especially to the efforts of Chapter 4 President Nola Lilly and our ally, Delegate Peggy Smith, the bill was amended to the status of a study of the effects of eliminating these vital community facilities.
Going forward, we know that such measures will be again put forward. We have recently seen the loss of jobs in the Division of Forestry made possible by the ill-considered elimination of timber severance fees. We have witnessed the freezes of pay and hiring by a lame duck executive administration unwilling to effectively confront a legislature which is taking its marching orders from out-of-state corporate interests. Now that we know what the enemies of maintaining vital public services for West Virginia citizens are capable of trying to do, our struggle is more important than ever.
The only solution, for the present and our future, is to continue to organize and build this Union. UE Local 170 has proved itself effective with a mere fraction of public workers. Just imagine our potential power if our ranks were swelled to the 30,000 employees of state government.
UE Local 170 President